Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

megrad2

Graduation from SPC on May 4, 2013

I have not made a post in quite some time. I apologize. When you’re a college student/author/publisher/editor/part-time employee it’s hard to find time to blog.  I am enjoying a nice summer break, though, so I hope to be able to catch up on my posts.

First, let me catch you up on the recent past. After a grueling spring term, I graduated from St. Petersburg College with my Associates of Arts degree on May 4th. It may not seem like a very significant accomplishment to some folks, but it means the world to me. I am an older student (47…not afraid to say it) who was told in high school by a guidance counselor not to waste my time with college. I wish he could have been there as I not only proved that it wasn’t a waste, I did so by graduating summa cum laude with a 3.95 G.P.A. and by being a finalist for one of SPC’s most prestigious academic honors, the Apollo Award. I didn’t win, and that doesn’t matter. Just to be considered for it is a huge accomplishment that will no doubt have a lasting effect on my life.

Ahead lies my goal for a BA in English Literature. I’ve chosen to remain in this area and transfer to the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg campus. I’m not quite ready to move out of Tampa Bay or Florida yet. The St. Pete campus of USF is gorgeous. It sits right on Tampa Bay with lovely water views from nearly every building. I’m looking forward to starting my classes in the fall…one of which includes a literature class on the occult. Hell yes!

Now for the present and future of other aspects of my life.

This summer while I am off I have many goals. Here are a few.

  • Employment. I lost my student job at SPC, so I’ve been working on updating the resume and creating a portfolio. I hope to use it to land my next job.
  • Writing. I have lots of writing goals for this summer.
    • More Blog Posts. That’s a priority. Need to get back into writing more frequent updates and doing the writing prompts again.
    • Parker’s Pygmalion. I’ve decided to upload my Phi Theta Kappa award-winning short story to Smashwords as a free e-book. I have to start doing this indie thing soon anyway, and this is a good story to start with. If it works out, I will likely add it to Kindle on Amazon as well.
    • Kill the Crow. I’ve begun putting the stories into one document. I still need to finish writing and editing a few of the tales for the book, and get it formatted for publishing. Once  that’s done, I will upload it to Amazon…maybe Smashwords again, too.
    • Quellseek: Army of Empaths. I have people who will murder me if I don’t finish this novel,  so I’m working on it. The biggest problem I’m encountering is that the plot bunnies have tortured me with another great idea, one which I’ve started the research on already.
    • The Dragon Siblings. See above. I’ve got Phandara and T’kanyae (a.k.a. Kane Anthony) Morphyrades story starting in my head and I’ve begun a research project on it involving (fictional and real) sorcery and alchemy.  I don’t even have a title for this yet and have no clue about the scope of it, because Quellseek and that series MUST come first. The tale of Rafael Errick, Emory Atarem, Marta Sanis, Alverin Ness, and Wellynd Niles/Well-and-Truly must be brought to a close and that could take 2-3 years to tell it all. The Dragons will happen at some point, though. They’ve sort of already happened in some pre-cursor/same multiverse short stories.
  • Publishing and Editing. 
    • The Were-Traveler. Yes, I also edit and publish a speculative fiction magazine. It’s a rewarding venture I dove into like a madwoman and for the moment I’m enjoying it. Not quite ready to give it up yet. I recently posted the descriptions for up-and-coming issue themes. I’m looking forward to some of the upcoming themes. I may have to pen something myself for the Lovecraft/Poe issue. So tempting.

Life is going to be a challenge for me once school starts again in August. I have decided to attend USF full-time, which means I will have even less time for the other parts of my life than I do now.

Going to do as much this summer as possible…got to get it while the gettin’s good.

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2013: Adaptations

© Redshinestudio - Fotolia.com

© Redshinestudio – Fotolia.com

Here we are, this year coming to a close and staring down the barrel of a new one.

2012 was a great year. Many good things happened. I won some awards both for academics and for writing. I didn’t publish as many short stories, but I feel like the ones I did publish were better stories. I got paid for my first story, Nowhere Land, and that story got some great reviews. I had my first reprint: my story The ABCs of the Apocalypse was reprinted in The Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2. I had a vampire story, The Bloodletter’s Tale, published in the Flashes in the Dark e-zineI have a story called The Apprentice’s Mother, being published in the Sunday Snaps anthology soon.

I ventured into journalism, writing a story for the school online newspaper about President Obama’s visit to one of our campuses.

I was nominated by my school for the All Florida Academic Team. I had a short story win two academic awards.

I did not do everything I planned to do in 2012. I’m still working on getting my book of short stories finished and out there in the world.

That being said, my list for 2013 contains some items of old business.

There are also some major changes in store for me in 2013, some life adaptations that I’ll be making. But as a friend of mine, Sophie Solitaire once told me: “You have to adapt or you will die.” Sophie is a character in my post-apocalyptic story Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl. 

2013 Goals:

Writing/Publishing Goals:

Kill the Crow — Get the stories that are going in it finished, get them all assembled in anthology format and find beta readers for the book. Find out how I can publish to both Smashwords and Amazon. If anyone reading this can help me with beta reading or publishing suggestions, please comment. I need all the help I can get.

Quellseek: Army of Empaths, Book 1 — This is the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I want to finish it and let it sit for a bit before I start editing. I’ve also begun note-taking and planning the second book of the series: Blood War. 

Blood War: Army of Empaths, Book 2 — The second book of Army of Empaths. I won’t give too much away, but Quellseek ends with some cliffhanger stuff. I want to start work on Blood War right way, while the momentum and juices are still hot and flowing.

Army of Empaths, Book 3 — I want to begin planning what’s going to happen in the 3rd book while I’m writing the 2nd book, taking notes as I go along on anything that might be a loose end that would need wrapping up. We don’t like loose ends.

Short stories  — I’d like to get some short stories written, I don’t know if I’ll have time. If I get invited to write another eMergent story, I’d definitely say ‘yes.’ I love working with Jodi Cleghorn and the eMergent crew.

I’m also planning a children’s fantasy about a dragon princess, but it’s just in the beginning/tinkering stages right now. And I’m playing with the idea of putting  a volume of poetry together.

The Were-Travler My first year as a fiction magazine publisher went pretty smoothly. Ever since the mag was listed on Duotropes, the submissions have been pouring in. It may be that I’ll need someone to help me with it eventually, but I’m having a lot of fun with it and definitely plan to keep it going.

Academic Goals:

Find a new school. In May, I will receive my Associates degree. I need to make up my mind about what university I’m going to attend to get my Bachelors. I need to make this decision soon. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve applied for some scholarships, we’ll see what happens. 

Awards. I’m trying to get another short story ready for Phi Theta Kappa Regional Awards for this year. I’m also entering a poem.

Survive Spanish 2. I need to pass this class in the Spring. It will count toward my BA. I haven’t been able to practice my Spanish much since I took Spanish 1 in the summer, so this will be hard. I may have to get a tutor. 😦

This is what I hope to accomplish for 2013. If I can achieve a fraction of it, I’ll be happy.

I wish everyone a successful and happy new year ahead!

Quellseek Excerpt: from ‘A Visitor in the Night’

Excerpt from Quellseek: Army of Empaths. From the end of Chapter 9, A Visitor in the Night (Wellynd Niles, POV). Wellynd wraps up his visit to Bon Pelees Atarem, a strange stopover even for a spy. He received a visitor to his room which left him disturbed (and not a little frustrated!) and saw a curious sight in the early dawn, a person sneaking out of the keep instead of into it! In this excerpt, Wellynd ends his visit by giving Pelees a revelation. 

“Thank you for delivering your message and may all the Unnamed see you home in safety. Doralinda made you up this bundle of food for your journey.” Pelees handed him a packet wrapped in linen.

“Thank you, my lord. A fine woman, your serving lady.”

Pelees looked surprised. “You were speaking with her yesterday.”

“Yes. I was getting a bottle of ghurzin from your storehouse. She is very concerned for you, my bon. As are we all.”

Pelees looked angry. “She spoke out of turn, I fear. I shall have to chastise her.”

“Don’t. Please, my lord. She spoke only out of her worry. She suffers greatly.”

“I know,” Pelees nodded. “She was very attached to Nissen. It hurt her when he quelled my poisoning.”

Now here’s a chance for me to do some good on this visit, at last,’ Wellynd thought.

“Is that what you think, my lord? That she loved your Quell?”

Pelees screwed up his eyes, not comprehending his guest’s meaning. “She must have…the way she cried when he died.”

Wellynd Niles put his heel to his horse and started to trot away, following his other guards and Wallis who were already leaving the stable. Then he stopped and turned to regard Bon Pelees Atarem thoughtfully.

“Hmm…yet her meander was the first one to leave Blackened Falls when you were poisoned, before your Quell was even feeling the full effect of it.” He grinned. “Well…I’ve heard it said love is blind. It must be stupid as well. Beg pardon, my lord. Thank you for your hospitality. Until we meet again.”

Then Wellynd Niles spun his horse around and headed out of the stable, leaving the Bon gaping after him in confusion, before Pelees could feel the full measure of the insult and call him back to have him flogged.

© Astrid Gast - Fotolia

© Astrid Gast – Fotolia

Quellseek Excerpt: Natural Son

One handsome masculine male with nice eyes

Image courtesy of dundanim.

Excerpt from my work in progress novel, “Quellseek: Army of Empaths, Chapter 12: Natural Son:

You are lucky,” Pelees began. “You’ve not had any part in the troubles. You’ve had no Sanis or one of their knights popping out of the bushes to put a blade to your throat. You haven’t had to marry one of them to try and forge a truce.”

“Thank the Thousand! I don’t want a Quell wiping my ass,” joked Alverin. “And the truce is a gods-damned farce. You know that, right?”

“Nobody knows it more than me, brother. I wish I’d been born the bastard.”

Alverin’s smile slid into a bitter, sour frown and his eyes grew dark. “Don’t wish for such a thing. I would not wish it on my greatest foe.”

“I can think of a few foes I’d wish it on. Father should ask the king to give you his name…that’s been done before. With some of Rauling’s whelps.”

Alverin laughed. He knew Pelees was serious, but he could not stay so depressed in his brother’s company. “You love me not, brother. All I want is a quiet, simple life. I have no ambition. As a bastard, I don’t expect to be a great force in the world. I leave that to you, my Bon brother.”

Quellseek Songs: Alverin Ness (Dare You to Move)

One handsome masculine male with nice eyesAs part of my writing process for my novel Quellseek: Army of Empaths, I’m seeking out songs that I can use to inspire my muse before we sit down at the laptop to write. I’m going to be using songs that I associate with my POV characters.

I have to admit it. I had a hard time finding a song for Alverin Ness.

He only has two POV chapters in the novel, but his character will have tremendous impact on future events in the story.

Alverin is the natural son of Manyx Atarem. Manyx is a known philanderer, but the only bastard child he’s ever acknowledged is Alverin.

Alverin lives mostly with his mother in a small village outside the Hungry Hills, where he has to contend with people looking down on him and (what he really can’t stand) his mother.

Although he is the son of a Bon noble, he has never been involved in the blood feuds that exist between the noble families, particularly the one against Atarem and Sanis. As a bastard, he’s always been beneath everyone’s radar. Not worth the time or effort it would take to kill him. So, he’s never had to have a Quell (physical empath bodyguard)…something for which he is thankful.

He’d like nothing more than to remain in his village with his mother, marry the girl he has a crush on and have a quiet, simple life. He gets to see his father and half-siblings when he visits Hook Harbor.  Even his father’s wife, if she treats him a little coldly, is not mean to him.

He likes his life the way it is.

But everything is about to change for Alverin Ness and his whole world will soon be turned upside down. He will face challenges and danger as finally, after fourteen years, people have the Atarem Bastard in their sights.

As his chapter opens, Pelees has come to escort him to the court. Bon Manyx wants the family united at the side of his friend, the ailing King Eggar. The last time Alverin saw his brother and father was at his brother Evander’s funeral pyre. Now he must go to the court, where all the Bon families of the kingdom are gathering to attend the king on his deathbed. He is not looking forward to being in the presence of the other noble families, most of them enemies, who have nothing but contempt for the Atarem Bastard.

So what kind of song did I choose for this unfortunate boy facing a world of challenges that he must either rise to or perish?

I chose Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” because to me it says that from his birth and throughout the battles to come, Alverin Ness has to step outside of himself…and become more than what he is, or his enemies will destroy him.

“Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be”

-Switchfoot

Quellseek Excerpt: Quellseek Comes to Endicott

The character Rafael on the cover of “Quellseek: Army of Empaths.”

The following is an excerpt from “Quellseek: Army of Empaths,” the novel I’m in the process of writing. The excerpt is taken from the opening of the fourteenth chapter: “Quellseek Comes to Endicott” and the POV character is Toleus, the brutal Quell from the Fortress at Haverton. In this chapter, Toleus and the Seekers have arrived on Quellseek to the little village of Endicott in the Hungry Hills. The brutal practice of outing the Quell members of the village begins:

Fire was roaring on a makeshift Plentim bier, armed men were placing pokers into its hot, raging maw. People were running in all directions, screaming; men pulling their wives along by their arms, and mothers in their turn, pulling younger children or cradling infants and toddlers protectively against their breasts. Panic was slowly turning to order, though, as the villagers soon realized the entrances and exits of the town were effectively blocked, guarded by solemn men clad either in all-gray or all-black. Men with drawn swords and angry eyes.

Toleus stepped out of the chaos and shouted an order.

“Everyone under the age twenty-two stand off to one side! Do it! Now!”

It took several minutes for his order to be completely carried out. Some parents were reluctant to part with their children; or in the case of young couples, who clung to one another while being prodded with the ends of swords into the Test group, refusing to let go of each other… which was fine with Toleus…the Seekers would know that either could be tried for the others Testing.

Last into the fray of onlookers were a father, mother, and their teenage son, herded by four Seekers from the direction where the less-populated area of the village lay.

“Merchant. Had to beat down his door,” called one of the Seekers to Toleus. One of the other Seekers grabbed the boy by the scruff of his tunic and hauled him into the group of those who had not been born during the time of the last Quellseek.

“Rafael!” the woman cried.

‘Mother. Good,’ thought Toleus. ‘We’ll work on her first, when comes his Testing.’

When they were all sorted, Toleus stepped up to the fire and removed a poker from the flames, its tip glowing yellow-red and hot.

“All right, now.” Toleus said, with a menacing grin. “Who’s first?”

Quellseek Songs: Emery, Pt. 2 (Lovers In A Dangerous Time)

Bona Emery Atarem – Image by Dmitriy Kapitonenko

I’m getting ready to write Bona Emery’s second POV chapter, tentatively titled “Desean.”

She’s made the journey in safety to her brother’s keep at Blackened Falls, and is greeted by him in his study. Bon Pelees has a new Quell with him, a man called Aleros. Aleros was sent to replace Nissen, who recently died for Pelees, but Aleros has his face hidden behind a hood. Remembering her own ordeal with hooded knights, Emery becomes suspicious. Bon Pelees tries his best to ease his sister into what will surely be a shock for her: Desean never confided in her his true nature—the fact that he was Quellmade—a clone produced by the Quell Order.

Once more, Emery is forced to relive the nightmare of her captivity and Desean’s death at the hands of the five hooded and unidentified knights.  And once more, she refuses to answer the question, even when her brother asks her: “How did you manage to escape?

But that’s a question to be answered inside the pages of Quellseek, my friends.

As Emery continues to brood over Desean’s death, this song comes to my mind. It’s a song for star-crossed lovers like Emery and Desean.