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!

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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.

Quellseek Excerpt: The Servant of the Never-Lord

© Astrid Gast - Fotolia

© Astrid Gast – Fotolia

The following is an excerpt from “Quellseek: Army of Empaths,” the novel I’m in the process of writing for NaNoWriMo this year. The excerpt is taken from the opening of the fourth chapter: “The Servant of the Never-Lord” and the POV character is Wellynd Niles, the advisor/spy of Daleen Brax, an un-lord land-holder who owns the lands neighboring Bon Pelees Atarem’s keep. In this chapter, Niles pays Bon Pelees a visit, carrying a message from his master.

“You must get there, and get there soon,” Daleen Brax had commanded him, and so here he was, before the keep gates of Bon Pelees Atarem, sealed envelope from his master safely tucked away inside his leather riding vest. Brax had not counted on the difficulty they would have getting in to see the Bon nor envisioned that they might encounter other travelers along the way.

The least you could have done for me, my kind and generous master, was to send one of your own meanders ahead of me to prepare these suspicious louts, he thought sarcastically. He waved his hand majestically at the watchtower atop the tall outer wall of the keep.

“Take your time, Atarem. Alert your serving ladies, Atarem. Niles has ridden a long, long way and is in sore need of a warm bath, hot food, and a hotter woman.”

The knight mounted next to him laughed heartily as did the other three armed guards. The hooded man in Quell robes they’d picked up along the way was still and silent.

“Maybe the Bona Atarem will attend to you. They say she’s not fond of her husband,” joked the knight.

Wellynd Niles smirked. “Not fond of him?! She’s a Sanis, man! And he’s Atarem. I’m surprised either of them have lived this past eight months without slitting the other’s throat. I don’t know what madness our majesty was suffering from when he suggested this sham of a marriage as a term of the blood-feud truce. And as for me, I’d rather bed an taiga iceman’s wife!”

“Comes down to the same thing, doesn’t it? Sanis’ sure are cold people, for all they live in the warmest clime on Esphaera.”

Niles laughed. “Ha! You’ve spoken well-and-truly, sir! My fair boyhood was spent in these parts and northern women know how to keep a man warm.”

The knight grinned. “They do at that. Perhaps those serving women will remind us of that.”

“Alas, the Bona Atarem I wouldn’t mind sharing a bed fur with is not at Blackened Falls, but Hook Harbor. Now, there is a fine woman, just come of age. But…to my dismay, my master is determined to have her.” He brushed a strand of his long, black hair out of his eyes and looked up at the watchtower again, irritated at the long wait.

“I’m sorry for your loss, sir.”

“Sir?! Do I look like a gods-damned knight to you? I’ve told you half-a-hunnerd times, call me Niles, or Wellynd, or if it suits you, one of those other endearing epithets that the rest of them use…just not to my face. That would spoil the joke on me, don’t you think?”

The knight chuckled. “It would indeed, Niles.”

“Now…” he said, looking again to the watchtower and high keep walls. “Where the hell is the sentry? Doesn’t someone see that we’re down here waiting to be let in? Don’t they have a knocker or bell or somewhat to let them know they have company?”

“We could have sent Rochester.”

Niles reached out and rubbed the head of the meander that rested  in front of him on the pommel of his horse’s saddle. The greenish-brown lizard unfurled and shook out its sheer wings.

“We couldn’t have sent him. He’s still recovering from that pellet wound. I’m just glad my stableboy was there to see him come down.”

“No idea who shot at him?”

“None. No Atarem’s around…not many left. Same for Sanis’. They’ve just about done for each other. A spy of Rauling, perhaps, but that’s a long guess. Rauling is too far off. My guess is that some of the hands were mucking about with their slings and thought he was a wild meander. Now, not a one of them has the balls to own up to it.”

Finally a man appeared along the top of the wall looking down at them.

“Who’s calling?’ he cried.

“Wellynd Niles. I bring the word of my master, Daleen Brax.”

The man turned his head as if he were speaking to someone inside the watchtower and then faced them again, this time aiming a crossbow at them.

“Well…I never.”

The knight beside Niles snorted with laughter. “Never, my friend? Never?”

“Oh ho! So we’re friends now, are we? I’m a dangerous man to call a friend, Sir Wallis.”

“I can see that,” Wallis chuckled.

Cover of “Quellseek: Army of Empaths.”

Quellseek Songs: Welland Truly (It’s the End of the World)

© Astrid Gast - Fotolia

© Astrid Gast – Fotolia

As part of my ongoing  motivation for NaNoWriMo, 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.

There are a couple characters in Quellseek that are among my favorite types of characters to read (and write). They belong to that class of fictional people I like to call “shit-stirrers.” They are the semi-antagonists….the “what the f*ck is he up to?” kind of characters that you can’t quite figure out what motivates them. They receive enjoyment out of plotting against and deceiving everyone else.

Welland Truly is just such a character, the main “shit-stirrer” in Quellseek.

His name, as far as we know, is actually Wellynd Niles. Here is what Bon Pelees’ physician/advisor, Corman, has to say about him:

Corman smirked. “They don’t call him ‘Welland Truly’ behind his back for nothing. It’s said that if during any conversation with him, he utters the phrase ‘Well and truly, my lord’ more than three times, you’d better go to bed with a guard of fifty armed Quell outside your door…for you are well and truly fucked.”

Niles is currently in the employment of Daleen Brax, an untitled land-holder. Untitled because his father began an uprising against the king which was put down. To punish him, Brax’s lands were incorporated into the kingdom, he was made to swear fealty to King Eggar, and he was never to be granted the lordly title of “Bon.”

Daleen Brax wears the resentment of his father’s failure like an heirloom and employs various tactics to try and get the King to make him a Bon, or failing that, cause as much havoc as possible. Wellynd Niles is his right-hand havoc man.

People who stir the shit don’t much care about the outcome as long as it causes lots of shit for everyone else while keeping themselves squeaky clean.

So for Welland Truly’s song, I’ve chosen “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. It’s the ultimate “shit-stirrer” song.

The Death of the Servant Nissen: Excerpt from Quellseek

@Dundanim - Fotolia

@Dundanim – Fotolia

Quellseek is the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo. The following is from the opening of the novel.

For three horrible days and nights, they watched as Nissen died, lingering in agony and screaming for all the gods and devils that ever were to end his torture, despite the extremely high dosages of opiate he was given…every hour it seemed…until exhaustion from the screaming and straining against the straps which held him down gave way to uneasy and fidgety slumber.

For three horrible days and nights during his un-peaceful bouts of sleep, everyone in the keep prayed to all those unmerciful gods and devils to hear him and grant him a reprieve from this world, which was too much a burden, on him and everyone…selfish as that may sound; it is no easy thing to listen to the torments of a man in the throes of a death such as his.

And through it all, yes, through the most wrenching screams that set ones teeth on edge, though the episodes of blood and bits of internal flesh spewing through his mouth and nose, growing so frequent now that one had to wonder how there was anything left inside him, let alone how he was able to continue to draw breath; through it all, it was Bona Marta who remained at his side.

Nissen was a stubborn man, though, and he continued to cling to life by the tips of his fingernails, which had all turned a blue-black shade, no doubt due to the pseudo-toxins which continued their slow course through his pain-wracked body.

Finally, on the dawn of the fourth day, Bon Pelees paid a visit, and everyone knew then that Nissen was dead. Bona Marta pulled the sweat-soaked sheet over his stilled face, which had purpled almost as much his fingertips in the last hour of his torment.

Bon Pelees sat bowed and huddled, shivering at the side of the deathbed, while Marta hurried to get the servants to wash and prepare the body before disintegration set in.

Pelees opened his weary eyes. His face was gray and taut; he’d fought his own struggles, and they’d left him wearied and palsied.

“He shall have to be on the bier tonight,” Corman spoke from his seat far in the corner by the fire. He’d arrived with the Bon, having stayed by his master’s side during the poisoned illness. “No part of him can be left for the spies of Brax to find.”

Pelees nodded, slowly. “He was a brave man. But then again they all are. Where will I find another like him?”

Corman snorted. “Haverton, of course, unless the Order refuses you. And who could blame them? The Good Seekers go through priests and priestesses at a fearsome rate.”

Pelees lifted his head and favored Corman with a angry look. “I did not mean that. He will be replaced. And it has been a year, Corman. A whole year. Since the last.”

“True enough. Either your enemies love you better than they do your father and mother, or they find it more difficult to try and kill you…or…” Corman cut himself off suddenly, and blushed, as if he’d said too much…

from “The Death of the Servant Nissen,” Chapter 1 of “Quellseek: Army of Empaths”

Cover of “Quellseek: Army of Empaths.”