“The Apprentice’s Mother” Published in Sunday Snaps Anthology

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Sunday Snaps front cover via Chuffed Buff Books.

My latest short story “The Apprentices Mother” appears in the anthology “Sunday Snaps” published by Chuffed Buff Books. Sales from the book will go to benefit the Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.

Susan May James of Chuffed Buff Books is the creative force behind the inspiration for “Sunday Snaps.” It got started when she started posting photos on her website as writing prompts. The image below served as the Muse for my story.

door knocker

Image courtesy of Susan May James.

Here’s the cover blurb for the project:

“This colourful and quirky collection contains short stories, flash fiction, vignettes and poetry of various styles and genres. It developed over the course of 52 weeks in 2010/2011 whereby a series of ‘Sunday Snaps’ were posted online as a creative writing exercise. Writers were invited to use the snapshots as inspirational writing prompts. The result: an eclectic assortment of light-hearted comedy, romance, dark tales, tragedy, slice-of-life stories and expressive verse. While the spires of Milan Cathedral and a café in Toronto provide the backdrop to romance, elsewhere a marriage is arranged, children grapple with loss, and a woman rushes to the side of a life-long friend. With a bit of French cuisine, a spiteful kitty, a mother’s pact with the devil, a birthday kiss and a dash of supernatural revenge, this unique collection offers a tale for all! Stories and poetry by: Sam Adamson, Kim Bannerman, Cath Barton, Dominique Boller, Juliet Boyd, Jodi Cleghorn, Sandra Davies, Miriam Dunn, Rebecca Emin, Annie Evett, Stacey Faulkner, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, D A Volpe Herskowitz, Stephen Hewitt, A J Humpage, Steve Isaak, Mandy K James, Susan May James, Maria Kelly, Mari Lee Kozlowski, Lisamarie Lamb, Shannon Lawrence, Tyrean Martinson, Tony Noland, Linda Olson, Roslyn Ross, Tony Schumacher, and Ren Thompson. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services. For details on the Canadian Red Cross, or to donate without purchasing a book, please click: Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.”

You can order the print edition from Amazon.com at:  http://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Snaps-Susan-May-James/dp/190885801X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1368636263&sr=8-3&keywords=Sunday+Snaps.

And you can get it from Amazon.ca at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/190885801X/sr=8-1/qid=1368636517/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1368636517&seller=&sr=8-1

If you’re in the UK, it can be found at Book Depository…they offer FREE WORLDWIDE delivery: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Sunday-Snaps-Stories-Susan-May-James/9781908858016

Also for readers living in the UK, it can also be ordered online at Foyles for in-store pickup or for delivery: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/sunday-snaps-the-stories,james-susan-may-9781908858016

And, of course, It can be ordered from the Chuffed Buff Books website – http://www.chuffedbuffbooks.com/bookshop/sunday-snaps-the-stories/.

Susan May James from Chuffed Buff Books has said that the kindle edition is in progress and will be available in the future.

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Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

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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.

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 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

Cover for NaNoWriMo WIP “Quellseek”

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I’m insane, I know, what with intense classes and all the other stuff on my plate. It’s okay. I’m not as fanatical about winning as I was in 2010, which I did win…with a 50K plus novel that’s still unfinished.

I just want to get in the driver’s seat and start spinning down the road on this story. It’s been in my head for a good long while and it needs to come out.

I’ve been playing with pics and fonts and making a cover for it. That’s one of the fun parts of the NaNo experience (next to the writing and the camaraderie of 300 K plus other insane people in the world, of course). If you’re one of those insane people, feel free to buddy me on NaNo. We can encourage each other in our mutual craziness.

I’m putting up a synopsis of the story later in the week.

Meanwhile, I envision this young man on the cover as one of my POV characters, Rafael Errick, a Quell in hiding. I’m planning for Rafael to be one of my more intense characters. I picked a good image for him, I think…

Creating a Writing Plan

I cherish the time off I have between college terms. I haven’t had a whole lot of time off lately: my last two terms only had a week and a week-and-a-half between them, so needless to say, I’m feeling a bit burned out.

I’m going to take this month I have off between now and the start of the fall term (which will be my final term at the community college before I transfer to my bachelor’s program…god knows where) to finish up a few writing projects and at long last get started on formatting my book of short stories for Smashwords and Kindle.

I’d like to see Kill the Crow come out early in 2013. I hope to round up some beta-readers  for it and try to find an decently priced editor (if I can) before the end of the year. If you are interested in beta-reading the book, please let me know.

I need to finish some stories for the book, too. I have three open stories that I’d like to fit into the anthology, including the title piece. I’m waiting for two stories to be published in other anthologies so they can be added, as well.

How to get things done if you’re a scatterbrain like me?

Well, one of my favorite ways of holding myself accountable for my actions is by making lists. I like lists. I look at a list and go “Oh, there’s that item I need to do.” I feel a sense of profound contentment, and a certain amount of evil pleasure when I check things off the list. Check. Murdered another one!

Another method of personal accountability for me is taking that list and going public with it.

Here is my writing plan for the next month:

  • Finish short story: Kill the Crow and the other stories that I need to get done for the book and for The Were-Traveler, etc.
  • Start the story I want to submit for consideration to Nota Bene, the fiction journal for Phi Theta Kappa. Right now I have an idea for this, but it’s speculative fiction, although it’s literary speculative fiction. Have to see where it goes, but I definitely want to submit something to this.
  • Finish outline for Waking Annastella. This is my “Sleeping Beauty in Space” science fiction story that I’ve been working on. I have the first chapter and part of the second written already.
  • Begin formatting Kill the Crow for Smashwords.
  • Blog something at least once a week!

This is probably as much as I dare to try and accomplish in a month, since I will also be putting a lot of my energy into applying to transfer colleges (writing college essays) and trying to acquire scholarships to see me through the pursuit of my bachelor’s degree.

Be on the lookout this summer for a lot of #amwriting and #wordmongering from me. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get to participate in a #FridayFlash!