IMAGINE THIS: Faeries and Families

FaeryUn-2x3One of the first stories I ever wrote was based on the idea of a family curse (?) passed from grandmother to granddaughter down through the ages. It skipped every other generation, so the mother of the next to inherit had no idea about what was happening, but her mother did! I sold that very first story (Deirdre’s Dragon) to an online magazine…my first sale! But that initial story didn’t quench my thirst for the idea. I needed a larger format. A novel! And so, my first novel FAERY UNEXPECTED was born😀

I still love these characters and may eventually find my way back to Claire’s world and discover just exactly what happened next. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy meeting Claire in these opening pages…

FAMILIES ARE GREAT, but there are times when they stink. I mean, I love my mom and dad, but wouldn’t you think they’d at least have asked me if I wanted to spend a month on the French Riviera with them? Honestly! I could’ve made arrangements to go, even studied while sunning in the south of France. The first few weeks of high school aren’t that important. But the parents refused to listen to reason. Instead, they arranged for Gran — Mom’s decidedly weird mother who never went anywhere without her even weirder toy dragon — to stay with me while Mom and Dad defected to Europe to laze in the sun. I figured by the time I survived the first week, I’d have earned a vacation of my own.

What a rip. I’d been searching for a solution to my high school dilemma, and they’d handed me the answer and then snatched it away, all in the space of a two minute conversation. Man! My first day at Jefferson High was racing down on me and I still didn’t have a concrete plan for leaving the middle school nerd behind. I didn’t need to be the most popular girl at school, but I definitely wanted to improve my social standing.

In middle school I’d been a dork, and Danielle, the cheerleader-from-hell, teased me mercilessly about my good grades, happy family, and that stupid book report on fairies I’d done in seventh grade. Hello, I’d done my Shakespearean research, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone? But that didn’t matter. She called me ‘Fairy Clairey’ for the rest of middle school. Even got her friends in on it. Made me sound like a complete idiot.

For a whole, shining minute I’d had my answer — before my parents ripped it away by uninviting me on their little European jaunt — but if I closed my eyes I could still picture the beautiful vision: me swaggering through the front doors of Jefferson High three weeks into the first term; my usually pallid skin crisp from a month of sun and sea; my unruly mop of short, curly black hair fashionably styled in the latest Paris do; my outfit straight off a tres chic fashion runway… Danielle would have a cow, and I’d be the reigning queen of the class. I might even have a chance at getting a boyfriend.

But no. Instead I got stuck with crazy Gran and her bizarre stories of dragons and centaurs and the magical adventures of her childhood. Gag!

So here I sat on the first day of September at Portland International Airport with my parents, waiting for Gran to show up. I stared out the window, watching her jet unload. I leaned my forehead against the glass and listened to my parents’ quiet conversation.

“Relax, Emily,” said Dad, a tall square man sporting thick glasses and a warm smile. “She can’t get lost. Everyone from the concourse channels past this waiting area. We won’t miss her.”

I glanced at my parents, but kept my forehead against the cool glass. Mom was dressed in creased gray wool slacks, ice blue blouse and a gray cardigan embroidered with small birds and vining leaves. She smiled and tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear. “I know, but it’s hard not to worry. I just can’t get over feeling like I should’ve gone to get her. She’s so helpless without Daddy. He did everything for her when he was alive…she never even had to fill the car with gas.”

“Yes, he was old-school to the core,” Dad agreed. “But I think he underestimated your mother. Don’t make the same mistake, Em. Deirdre is tougher than you give her credit for.”

A flash of golden light out of the corner of my eye made me glance back at Gran’s jet. For a moment, I swear I saw something hovering over the plane. More than simple heat haze rising from the tarmac, something shimmered in the air above the airplane, like a window into another world. I blinked, and it disappeared. But the green-blue after image burned behind my eyelids…a castle in the sky.

Great. Just the thought of Gran’s stories and I was already getting all stressed out and weird. Give her a month and my elevator wouldn’t go all the way to the top.

I used to love having Gran visit, but that was before I grew up and realized she was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. What little kid wouldn’t love a grandmother who told them dragons were real and made them believe they could ride the wind on the back of an awesome, intelligent beast? Every kid wants to believe in magic.

I scootched lower in my seat, found a cooler bit of window for my cheek, and tried to convince myself that it wouldn’t be so bad having Gran around for a month. I’d be at school all day during the week. I’d just have to make sure I had plenty of invitations for sleep-overs on the weekends. My birthday might pose a problem, though. What if she decided to throw me a party?

Oh. My. Gawd. I could just imagine what my friends would say if Gran started telling dragon stories. I’d have to head her off. Maybe let it slip that my heart’s desire would be dinner and a movie…just us girls!

I didn’t have time to hatch a better plan because Gran came striding purposefully around the corner. My heart thumped, and I jumped to my feet. She might be weird, but she was family.

“Gran,” I shouted above the general din of other sons and daughters, grandkids and friends calling to their loved ones.

“Here, Mother,” called Mom. “We’re over here!”

“Deirdre,” boomed Dad, visibly restraining himself. I knew he itched to grab her carry-on luggage out of her hands, but couldn’t do anything until she moved past the security barrier.

And then she sailed through the gate and we hugged and tugged, a mass of flailing arms and clutching fingers, until we managed to bob out of the stream of excited humanity into our own quiet pool of reunion.

“Claire! Look at you,” cried Gran, breaking from the jubilant tangle to hold me at arm’s length. “You’re practically a grown woman.

“You’ve blossomed, my dear,” she said with a wink. “But I’m pleased to see you haven’t overblown.”

Well! Nice to know my understated cleavage pleased someone.

“You look wonderful, too, Gran,” I said with a forced smile. She did. If you liked the psychedelic look of the sixties crossed with demented dandelion. Gran sported a cheese orange rain poncho, lime green rubber boots, short, wiry gray hair that sprang from her head with no discernible style or direction, and Roddy, the ever-present two-foot long toy dragon attached to her shoulder on his Velcro perch. But her eyes sparkled merrily and her smile illuminated the dreary waiting area.

My frosty welcome melted and I hugged her with genuine appreciation. After all, blood is blood. She might be a dingbat, but she was my dingbat, and I loved her.

“We’re going to have the best month of your life,” she whispered in my ear. “Just you wait and see!”

“Peter, if you’ll get my bag,” Gran said, taking charge. “Claire, bring Roddy, please, and Emily, tell me all your news!” She disentangled herself from me, dropped the toy dragon in my abruptly empty arms, grabbed Mom by the elbow and headed for baggage claim, her head close to Mom’s.

Dad and I exchanged glances, shrugged, and carried out our assigned tasks. I held the toy dragon up to my face and stared into his beady green eyes. “Okay, Roddy,” I said, only half teasing. “Here’s the deal. You stay out of my way and I won’t accidentally knock you into the trash compactor.”

Dad laughed, grabbed Gran’s rolling duffle in one hand and dropped the other on my shoulder.

“You’re going to be fine, Claire. Just fine.”

 

Fire of the Covenant on SALE

60% OFF – In preparation for the arrival of Betrayal of the Covenant, second book in the Dragon-Called series, I am offering the Kindle version of the first book in the series, Fire of the Covenant, at a reduced price – $1.99 (Reg. $4.99). The limited time discount will run from 15 August – 30 September, 2016. Get this first book in the epic series at an unbelievable sale price – never before discounted. Purchase at Amazon at this link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GY7A3WI/

4.8 Stars for Fire of the Covenant (Amazon)

Five Star
Don’t Miss This One!!
“As intricately woven as Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ and mystically enchanting as Rawling’s ‘Harry Potter’, Peter Cruikshank’s first novel is an amazing read. His style is so clear and the characters so real that I felt I was reading in living color. It is an encompassing tale of magic,and majesty, of dragons and adventure, that has a magnetic grip on the reader. It left me anxiously awaiting the sequel, a feeling I haven’t experienced since Jean Auel’s ‘Clan of the Cave Bear.'”

~Ed Kilpatrick

Cover for Fire of the Covenant - large web size

You have been dragon-called to read this book
“Peter Cruikshank’s Fire of the Covenant (Dragon called legend, book 1) is an outstanding debut novel that is sure to appeal to epic fantasy lovers of all ages.”

“It’s the story of Princess Willoe – who is much happier with a sword in her hand than socialising with the ladies at court; and her twin brother Prince Rowyn – who would rather be studying in his uncle Brom’s tower than swinging a sword on the training ground.”

“Unfortunately for the twins their grandfather, the King of Cainwen, has other ideas for them with Willoe to be married off and Rowyn to take up the life of a man-at-arms.”

“But there is something special about these siblings and the King isn’t the only one who has plans for their future. Pursued by the priests of a religious order who would use the twins’ talents to dominate the world, Willoe and Rowyn come to learn of a covenant made by one of their ancestors with the King of the dragons – and the heartbreaking role they have to play in it.”

“Or do they?”

“Fire of the Covenant contains all the elements you’d expect from a classic epic fantasy romp with more battles, magic, elves, dwarves (or dwarf-like creatures), dragons and deities than you can poke a sword at. And while there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers turning the pages, the real strength of the story lies in its characters.”

“Cruikshank has crafted some wonderful characters to fill his well-realised world, with likeable protagonists, deplorable villains and a supporting cast that are full of surprises. I found myself caring about these characters and wanting to know more about them as the story unfolded.”

“Fire of the Covenant kept me engaged right to the very last page and had me craving the next book in the series. Highly recommended.”

~Dave Kearney

Cover Reveal: Betrayal of the Covenant

I am happy to share with our readers the cover for the upcoming Betrayal of the Covenant, the second book in the Dragon-Called series. Join twins, Willoe and Rowyn on an epic tale of coming of age, the passion of love and sacrifice, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness, and an adventure that encompasses the known world of Saoghal. Meet Elfs, the little Tinks, the ferocious Kata-henis ridden by the Elfs, and more Fantasy creatures – including DRAGONS!

REVISED LOGO cover for Betrayal of the Covenant - web-friendly - 120ppi

Tracked by minions of the evil Shin-il priest, the Dragon-Called Twins, Rowyn and Willoe, journey on a quest to the Hoarfrost Mountains.  Lands rife with dangers, including Sköll Wolves and Ice Giants, and may hide more than just the sought-after Sword and Staff. Devices created by dragons that are rumored to control the Others and the Fire Within, while preventing one of the twins from dying to satisfy the Covenant.

The key to opposing the Shin-il priests and taking back Taran lies in an all-out assault on Tierran’s Wall – built to be impregnable. Sellswords, Blood Stalkers and Shades, creatures as much dead as alive, will do anything to prevent the twins from succeeding. Unexpected allies may provide the help they need to overcome these obstacles, but an unimaginable betrayal may end the Covenant and destroy the twins’ ability to defeat the Great Evil, the Olcas Mogwai.

Cover for Fire of the Covenant - web-friendly - 120ppiCheckout Fire of the Covenant, the first book in the Dragon-Called series. Currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and many other sites.

Legend says a Covenant between an ancient race of dragons and a Halfling King vanquished a relentless evil. More than a thousand years later, the evil has returned, better prepared and hungering for vengeance. When the legacy falls to the twins Willoe and Rowyn, sixteen-year-old descendants of the mythical king, they struggle with the truth they discover behind the Covenant’s deadly cost.

With the aid of their cousins Aeron and Casandra, the twins must learn to wield the power of the Dragon’s Fire that flows through their veins to defeat the minions of the great evil, even though success may require the greatest of sacrifices.

In a story with a host of characters and multiple story lines, Fire of the Covenant begins an epic adventure of self-discovery, the passion of love and sacrifice, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness.

As intricately woven as Martin’s “Game of Thrones” and mystically enchanting as Rowling’s “Harry Potter”, Peter Cruikshank’s first novel is an amazing read. His style is so clear and the characters so real that I felt I was reading in living color. It is an encompassing tale of magic, of majesty, and of dragons and adventure that has a magnetic grip on the reader. It left me anxiously awaiting the sequel, a feeling I haven’t experienced since Jean Auel’s “Clan of the Cave Bear.” – Amazon Review

4.8 Stars for Fire of the Covenant

Five Star

News, Releases, and SALES!

My alter-ego, Deb Logan, has been experiencing some really good luck in the last few months! First her short story, TERRORS, was included in an awesome anthology: FICTION RIVER: SPARKS.

Next, another of her short stories appeared in CHRONICLE WORLDS: FEYLAND which hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list and really boosted Deb’s author ranking!

Then, she sold a short story to Dreaming Robot Press‘s 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide which is scheduled to come out early next year!

Hooray for short stories and great anthologies!

Okay, that was the NEWS part of this post. Now we move to RELEASES😀

WDM Publishing just released TERRORS as a stand-along Spun Yarns short story! *happy dancing*

TERRORS Terrors-6x9
By Deb Logan

Audience: Juvenile | Paranormal | Short Story

Artie Woodward sees the invisible beings that haunt our world. She recognizes their evil but doesn’t know what to do about it, so she’s learned to hide from their notice. Until Jed Kendrick moves to town. Suddenly, Artie has an ally, a friend, someone else who sees the unseen. Only Jed doesn’t hide. Jed fights back!

Electronic Edition Publication Date: July 2016
Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

FaeryUn-2x3And finally, in the SALES category … Deb is participating in a 53 author Urban Fantasy HOT SALE on July 28 – 30! Just think, 53 books priced at either $0.99 or FREE! Be sure to check it out! With that many authors, there’s bound to be something of interest😀

Deb’s YA urban fantasy, FAERY UNEXPECTED, will be included in the $0.99 group (down from its usual $5.49!), so grab a copy while the sale lasts!

Save

Cover Reveal: Flare by Rabia Gale

I’ve read the first two books in this series and loved them. So it was a no-brainer when Rabia Gale approached me about the cover reveal. I can tell you, you’re in for a visual treat. All three covers are brilliant and vibrant in their colors, just like the stories behind them (I’m assuming the third is going to be just as good as the first one and will buy a copy as soon as it is available).

Let me introduce you to Rabia Gale and her “Sunless World” series:

 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my upcoming release, Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World, an epic fantasy series with a steampunk flavor.

Flare COVER REVEAL

Rafe and Isabella are back

The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light.

After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction.

Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop him—and undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.

Flare will be out in September 2016!

The Sunless World series

The Sunless World BLOG

Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews

This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – Amazon.com review

The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).

About the Author

Rabia Gale Headshot I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my work—you have been warned!

A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.

Find me online at:
Website: http://www.rabiagale.com
Newsletter: http://www.rabiagale.com/thank-you/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rabiagalewriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rabiagale

The Joys (You Heard Me!) of Revision

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before. I’m revising a novel, The Eye of Kog, by which I mean going about it in the same way most other authors do. It’s an incredible feeling: I’m running with “joy” in my title today but I think the best word might be “stunned”. Thought I’d ruminate on why, and see if anyone else has the same feeling.

Not Writing Anymore!

Astonished1That’s the first thing, the breaking of a habit that leaves me feeling as if I’m constantly stumbling forward against a vanished resistance. I was writing this thing for so long. If you work on several WiPs simultaneously, you may not get this, but I dropped my “other” tale long ago. Every day walking around not hearing the first of half of anything my lovely wife says, every time I miss my turn driving to the store because I’m distracted, every half-hour before sleep, every night: the tale, the chapter I was on, where the characters were and what was going to happen next.

Sure, I knew the tale in the sense of the big picture. I knew it intimately in fact: I have for decades. But I don’t outline, or character-map- there’s no bridge between in-the-head and on-the-paper, just a big leap across that space. It’s a little like having seen Star Wars twenty times: you know it, right? But now you have to sit down and replicate the screenplay, shot by shot.

Anyway, that was an intense level of involvement, and I couldn’t believe how long I went on with it.

Two years.

Of Long Standing

Yes, I was writing The Eye of Kog at that pace for nearly two solid years, and I can prove it. Whenever my author friends and I finish a chapter, we lob it up on our mutual comment Lecturing2board over at Write Stuff Extreme, and then exchange feedback on each others’ work. If you don’t do this, start. Seriously, not one word to me, not one shaken finger about outlining or note-taking or anything. Get a beta group. Don’t make me come over there.

So my first post on the board for EK is dated July 14th 2014. I went back to start my revision and could not believe my eyes. Like Treaman’s party when they first sight the lost city of Oncario, I knew it had to be 2015, at most. Two years? All that time… but this was not a short tale like Fencing Reputation. And it involved several characters whose history I did not know as well as those in Judgement’s Happy2Tale. I bet many of you have felt this, the sense of re-acquaintance with things you wrote, characters introduced, action described. Like a chore you forgot you had done, you walk in and your heart shouts “bonus! winning!”

And then there’s the cousin of that feeling, with the same exultation and none of the recognition.

Really? I Wrote THAT!

I know other authors have felt this way because they’ve told me. Maybe it happens more often when you write longer books, I’m not sure. But there’s that paragraph, the section of 1k or 2k or more that is not yours. It’s just in your book. You know? Oh it’s part of the book alright– carries the plot forward, develops the character, balances dialogue with action. But no way I could have written this.

Usually, I feel that way because it’s good: and when I look at the posting date, more often than not it came out right away, on the next day after the chapter before it. Or even on the same day. That’s really hard for me to do, because I’m a day-job dilettante and can never count on steady time to write. Where did this burst of creativity come from? Too hard to figure out. Much easier for me to assume someone snuck in and tapped on my keyboard while I wasn’t looking. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Thanks, whoever you were, for stopping by. Come again.

The Dragon of Perfect

Bumps along the way, though? Oh hell yes.

Thinking1The Perfect Dragon rears her ugly head– well wait, it’s a gorgeous scaly head, the acme of draconic beauty, I’m sure, but the beholder’s eye in this case is mine, and she’s trying to consume me, so… ugly. She rears her head chiefly in two places. One, in the tiny cramped space within her cave, over wording. The other high in the sky as she flies and flames, at the level of chapters.

Different readers trip on different phrases, and you can’t say yes to everyone. I’m so proud of my grammar, my syntax (whatever the hell that is) my idioms and voice and tense-choices. Anyone, absolutely anyone points out a problem and the Dragon Perfect starts to growl and hiss. Did I mention how defensive I am? See, I ALREADY went over the wording. A lot, man! I re-read my chapters out loud, I swap adjectives, I Astonished1bounce out the present-tense verbs that snuck in when I wasn’t looking. And who does anyone else think they are, to post a comment (private board) telling me the way I wrote it was– I can hardly say it– wrong?

Down, Dragon. Every sentence can take one more read-through, where’s the harm. I have spent half an hour in the cave over a single paragraph, and when the smoke cleared I realized my lunging, clawing adversary was my reflection in a mirror. Back-space, tap-tap, fixed. Yeah, more often than not, they were right. Hey, almost like, like they were trying to help me when they posted it.

But up in the air, that’s harder. This is the part of revision where you have to entertain the notion that your chapters are in the wrong order. Or that there are too many. Dragon Perfect swoops in with a full head of steam against such offenders and again it’s Katie bar the door because my Defensive Shield is set to eleven. MY wonderful opus? Rearrange, clarify or even (gaspity-gasp) cut? Don’t you know that’s a three-letter word around here?

Jealous1Long and short, I usually fend off such suggestions. You have to stick up for your work and my brave beta-readers, as loyal as they were, couldn’t possibly hold the themes, the minor characters, the long breaks between visits, in their memory over the course of twenty-four months with clarity. I’m the guy who’s been walking around with this in his head for two years. I have to trust my judgment (inside joke!) on this one. So yeah, those themes, threads, added characters, and chapters pretty much stayed where they were.

One thing, though, I never expected and it even knocked out Dragon Perfect this time.

Add a chapter, my readers said.

And I was like– crazy beta-readers say whaaat?

Add a chapter. Maybe two.

The Creation Unlooked For

To coin Tolkien’s phrase, I could never have expected the result of feedback would be to Horrified2make my chronicles even longer. Maybe deep down I don’t have enough faith in my tales? But my good friends got to the heart of it. I just hate villains, is all. And I don’t show them much: I hint at them, feint and fake and mention them, or have folks find evidence of their passing, stuff like that. This is epic fantasy, it’s not like they have redeeming qualities!

But the reasons piled up, and I bet other authors know the feeling. Something kindles inside, you start to see possibilities. Nobody shows every second of a hero’s life– when they use the bathroom for instance, though I do show a prince and his squires seeking them. There’s a lot of mindless destruction and bad-doings my villains indulge in, before they finally get theirs. Plenty of stuff to draw on. I’m thinking now about how to advance the plot, increase the tension, improve the tale. AND, by the bye, give you all another much-needed glimpse of a powerful character doing what he does, well worst.

Thoughtful2So again, calm down Dragon. I got this.

Revising is a peculiar joy, with twinges of doubt, wonder and regret flavoring it. Maybe letting go of my daughter’s hand on her wedding day will be a bit like it. I might never think the tale is ready. Pretty certain I’m not. But here it goes all the same.

Have you experienced the joys of revision? Did you read something and wish it had another run before you bought it?

Summer Holidays and Writing

As long as your kids are still in school, summer holidays are a recurring feature. For me that means a lot less time to write but much more time to read. The reason is simple. While my kids accept that I need to work, their constant needs and questions (whom I love to answer) stifle my creativity. So I tend to do revisions or proofreading when they are around.

This year however the holidays started so early that they’re nearly over already. What ate into my writing time the most was the fact that my middle daughter is getting braces. For them she needs two teeth to be pulled (which I had to arrange), visit the dentist specialist 3 times (once for the mold, next for the brace, and last because one of the little metal bits didn’t stuck to her tooth. It came off last night and we had to go back again), and another visit to the normal dentist to get the teeth cleaned professionally. I just hope all that driving around will be over soon.

Strangely enough, this year I seem to be struggling more than the other years. Maybe it’s because of the additional hustle, or maybe it’s because the holidays started so early, I don’t know. I do know that I have to adjust my daily routine. What are you doing to get through holiday times (whether with or without kids)?

What Independence Means to Me (As An Author)

July 1st was Indie Pride Day to celebrate independent authors. Today is Independence Day in the U.S., a holiday that many of my neighbors like to celebrate by grilling in their backyards and setting off illegal fireworks. While I hide inside with my frightened cats, I thought I would take the time to reflect on what it means for me to be an independent, or self-published, author.

I’ve been a writer since I started dictating stories to my mom at age five, but I didn’t have as much interest in traditional publishing. I enjoyed sharing my stories with others but I liked to keep control over them. When the internet took off, I switched from swapping notebooks with friends to sharing on fanfic groups, but a few negative experiences led me to creating my own website for my writing so I had control. Meanwhile, I researched traditional publishing markets, but I was turned off by the heavily restricted contracts. I liked the internet’s freedom to connect directly with readers throughout the world, even though I wasn’t getting paid a cent. No one could tell me what to write or how my stories should be presented.
Three years ago, I finally took the plunge by self-publishing my first novel, Small Town Witch. I spent eighteen months preparing and did a lot of research before I uploaded that book, but I quickly found out how much I still had to learn. Even today, I spend a lot of my time learning about writing, editing, covers, marketing, and everything else that goes into publishing my own books. It’s a lot of work, and since it’s an always-changing world, there will always be new things to learn. I’m far from an expert, but I see that even the most successful and smart indie authors are constantly adjusting to keep up with the demands of readers, new technology, and different conditions on various ebook stores.
But I haven’t regretted one moment of this journey. I know that trying to do everything myself means I’m the only one to blame for my mistakes, but I like the process of trying new things and learning. I’ll never fail, because ebooks never have to go out of print and I can keep improving. I’m not a bestseller by any measure, but every book I put out is a little better than the last, and my sales are growing. Doing the work myself means that I also keep the largest share of the profits. And no one can make me do something that I don’t want.
Could it be easier if I’d been accepted by one of the big traditional publishing houses? Yes, but that’s no guarantee that my books would sell any more copies than they are right now, or that they’d be the same books at the end of the process. I know that my stories aren’t quite mainstream or have a wide enough appeal to sell millions of copies. I’m okay with that. I don’t need to be the next Hugh Howey or Andy Weir. But if there’s a hundred people out there who like my quirky stories, then I’m happy to find them. Independent publishing lets me share my stories with the readers who like them, so I’m proud to be part of this self-publishing movement. And I’m happy that I can also work with other authors like those here at the Independent Bookworm.

CHRONICLE WORLDS: FEYLAND

Chronicle Worlds_Feyland eBook Cover-finalI’m a huge fan of Anthea Sharp’s Feyland novels, and was thrilled when Samuel Peralta’s Chronicle Worlds anthology series gave me the opportunity to play in her world! Having read every single Feyland story, I’m very familiar with the world’s delights … and its dangers.

“On Guard” was inspired by a family vacation where my twelve-year-old grandson was so entranced by a video game that he lost track of time and had to be coaxed into family activities. I could easily imagine my grandson playing Feyland, but “On Guard” was born when I decided to make his pet Norwegian Forest cat the hero of the tale.

Here’s a short blurb about the story:

Wallace, a fierce Norwegian Forest cat, has guarded the boy since he was an infant. Despite advancing age, Wallace isn’t about to shirk his duty now that the boy is old enough to play a dangerous game. Wallace doesn’t understand his boy’s fascination with Feyland, but he knows a threat when he sees one.

Chronicle Worlds: Feyland is available for only 99 cents for a limited time from Amazon! Grab your copy today😀

Playing with Words: Sword & Sorcery

I recently wrote a story to submit to a “sword & sorcery” anthology. I wracked my brain trying to think of a tale to tell that met the requirements. Finally, I decided to revisit a character I created several years ago. Some of you may remember Kaitlyn from “Ensorcelled.” Here’s how her new story begins:

Kaitlyn felt him die. Felt his spirit depart this world, though it had been years since she’d seen his beloved face.

She stumbled, though the path through the white-barked aspen trees was well known to her and the morning clear and bright.

Fear and grief assaulted her mind.

She felt his power return to the reservoir of ambient magic. Felt a cresting wave of urgent desire break against her will as the magic in the very air around her ebbed and flowed, seeking a new balance.

The Firestone awoke, scrabbling for energy as it tried to claim more magic, claim more of her life.

She collapsed to the bare ground, bracing herself against the rough trunk of an aspen. Dropping her gathering basket, she hugged her knees beneath scrunched and disheveled skirts and petticoats.

“No,” she whispered through gritted teeth, sweat beading her forehead. “No. You will not advance. I refuse to allow it.”

Closing her eyes, her brow furrowed in concentration, she weathered the magical spike, struggled against the fingerless golden glove that covered her right hand and forearm, against the slender tendrils that sought to extend toward her elbow. With gritted teeth and clenched fists she fought for control…and won.

The fine tendrils retreated, the golden glove quieted. The magical storm calmed.

Tears slid down her heated cheeks. Partly in relief that she’d once again mastered the Firestone, but mostly in mourning for her dead friend. Aelfric, the master sorcerer to whom she had once been a contrary and headstrong apprentice.

She rested her head on her knees and reflected for a moment on her loss while her pulse slowed and her breathing quieted, becoming even again. Aelfric was gone, the master who had guided her through the turbulent adjustment after she’d so rashly used the Firestone to defeat the evil wizard, Darius. She’d won a war and saved her brother, but at a terrible personal cost.

King Lorien had hailed her a hero, but the common folk had the right of it—they named her the Solitary Sorceress.

For that was the price the Firestone had demanded of Kaitlyn, that headstrong fourteen-year-old apprentice. She had dared to summon the powerful talisman from its resting place and it had come to her in its quiescent state, a simple gold ring. But when she had claimed its power to defeat Darius, when she had placed the ring on her finger, it had bonded with her flesh, sending tendrils into her very bones, wrapping her hand and wrist in a golden sheath that had extended to her forearm before the battle ended.

The Firestone made her invincible.

It also made her untouchable.

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