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.”

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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.”

The Best of Friday Flash 2 Launch Day and My ABC’s

Launch day for Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2 is here.

This is the second anthology of works by authors that post and tweet links to their stories via the #FridayFlash hash-tag on Twitter. Friday Flash is an awesome Twitter community of writers who work together to help each other grow creatively. We read each others stories and comment on them. You don’t just get feedback on your stories through Friday Flash, though, you build relationships with other authors. And in this gig, you need to build relationships.

When I started posting stories on Friday Flash just a little over two years ago, I didn’t know a soul. Now, I have a ton of friends from FF on Twitter and many of us have also connected on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and even Linked-In. So, if you’re reading this and you are a new writer looking for a) a venue to get feedback on your work; and b) want to virtually meet some of the most kick-ass writers on the net, head over to Twitter and get started.  The Friday Flash web page has more information.

Now for the good stuff…the book! I just missed out on getting into the first volume of Best of Friday Flash, so when it came time for the second one to collect submissions, I had no doubt which story I wanted to send in to Jon and the gang.

The ABC’s of the Apocalypse was originally published in an anthology for Static Movement called Cosmic Catastrophes. I had sent the rough draft to my friend, writer and editor Jim Bronyaur, who sent it back with the words “I F**KING LOVE THIS!” written in black marker at the top. Now, Jim’s a horror guy. For him to say this about a science fiction piece of mine…well, I felt pretty damn good about it. So I sent it to Static, and they published it in Cosmic Catastrophes. After it was published, I posted it for the Friday Flash crowd. It was one of my best loved stories from Friday Flash and garnered the most positive comments of any Friday Flash story I ever posted.

The concept of the story is not a new one. I borrowed the style from a creepy fantasy story I read and liked by Tim Pratt, called Annabelle’s AlphabetAs for the theme, I was inspired by Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, except that Amy in ABC’s has the opposite problem that Charlie Gordon had.

I am happy that BOFF2 liked ABC’s and included it in this anthology alongside some of the best flash stories around.

I will be getting an extra copy of BOFF2 delivered to me in a few days and will be giving it away during a contest soon.

Stay tuned for more information…and you can order a copy here, if you don’t want to wait for my lottery: Order BOFF2 .

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…

Igniting Creative Spark: Going Outside the Comfort Zone

Photo courtesy of Zachary Tomlinson.

Sometimes you have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable when you make decisions to take your writing to a different level.

For me this involved a recent foray into journalism.

I normally adopt an “I’ll-leave-your-opinons-alone-if-you’ll-leave-mine-alone” stance when it comes to politics. I’m honestly very middle of the road. My philosophy is very much like Neil Gaiman’s: “If there was a party whose main platform was being nice to people, freedom of speech and supporting libraries I’d sign up for it.” I don’t get into virtual, all-caps-on, shouting matches on Twitter or Facebook over politics. I just don’t think that it does much good. I may occasionally repost a meme about teachers getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop or internet privacy or censorship. Those are my pet peeves, but I don’t do it very often.

But  when an opportunity of a lifetime emerges, a chance to also test myself as a writer…well some things are just too good to pass up.

I almost enrolled in journalism school ages ago…years before the major life change I made two years ago to go back to school at forty-something to get my Masters in English Literature. But life happened…I got a full-time job, got married, and didn’t do journalism school. So, recently, when the guys at The Sandbox news asked me to write some articles (book reviews were discussed at the time) I said I’d do it. Partly because my writing has been in an idle place and I’ve been looking for some way to rev it up a notch, but mainly because I always wanted to write for the school newspaper, and when I first started at SPC, they didn’t have one.

Then…an amazing thing happened. Just a few days later we received the news that President Barack Obama was coming to deliver a Grassroots speech at our campus in Seminole. And I was asked to go along with the other reporters and cover it. Me! See a president of the US give a speech! I was overwhelmed and more than just a little bit scared. I don’t do politics, remember.

After I calmed down, I reasoned that a chance like this doesn’t come along very often and it was not just an opportunity to see a US president make a live speech, it was also an chance for me to write a journalistic piece…write it to the best of my ability, all the while trying not to air my own political views. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, a challenge…and there’s nothing I like more than a writing challenge. We writers need to challenge ourselves, and sometimes that means stepping outside of our comfort zone and writing about things we’d normally steer well away from.

So I wrote this…my very first experience with writing for the mass media. I hope you enjoy it: The President Visits Seminole, Emphasizes Education. 

Image courtesy of Maggie Susens Livingston.

Newbie Indie Seeks Advice on Covers, Publishing…

Hey, all.

After I posted the preliminary book cover on Facebook and asked for some opinions, a Twitter friend suggested the crow image would look cool with a gun-sight over him. Another Twitter writer friend (who is an ace at graphic design) offered to add the gun-sight for me. Icy Sedgwick did a great job, and even made a couple of monotone versions, which I think are fabulous.

I’m asking for your help. This is all kind of new to me, so, before I show off the new covers, I need some other advice.

What market should I put my baby in when it’s finished? Smashwords, or Amazon Kindle? “Kill the Crow” will be a collection of short stories. Right now, I’m still trying to decide if the stories in the book will be strictly horror or if I’ll also include some sci-fi & fantasy pieces.

Please give me some advice love in the comments below.

Now for the covers:

Kill the Crow Front Covers

Cover #1. Rose background, white text.

Cover #2: Rose background, red text.

Cover #3: Mono background, white text.

Cover #4: Mono background, red text.

Cover #5: Mono background, white text, blurred gunsight.

Cover #6: Mono background, red text, blurred gunsight.

I like the last two, because the blur on the gunsight makes it look more realistic to me.

Which is your favorite?

Also, if you have any links to articles or blogs that can help me as I take my first tender baby steps into the world of Indie publishing, I’d really appreciate it. I have a whole month off from classes coming up, and I intend to read up on self-publishing in my spare time.

Thank you!

2012: The Year of the Dragon, or, The Year I Plan to Breathe Fire

Chinese astrology is fascinating.

I was born in the Year of the Snake, 1965. (Always knew I belonged in Slytherin. Heh.) But I was conceived in 1964, which was the Year of the Dragon. This is probably why I love dragons.

Dragon-years are good years for me, and this one will be no exception.

During the fall of 2012, the first leg of my journey toward becoming a college professor will be complete. I will graduate community college with an Associate of Arts degree and move on. Where to? Likely I’ll transfer to the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, although I’m getting some nice emails (and even gift baskets with chocolate!) from other schools.

I’m going to focus more on writing fiction in 2012. 2011 was my toughest academic year thus far, and I was pressed to make it through this fall with only a slight dent in my GPA. I wrote lots and lots of school-related stuff, but nothing I could submit for fiction publication. That will change.

Writing goals:

  • I have a few stories to finish for the horror and sci-fi/fantasy collections.
    • When We Were Kings, fantasy, origins story. I can’t say any more without spoilers, but I LOVE this one!
    • Kill the Crow, horror. Revenge is black and feathered!
    • Eyes in the Dark, horror.
    • Lighthouse Man, science fiction
    • And a few others
  • Novella, novel: I’ve been planning a harpy novel, but the Muse won’t leave me alone about the “Journey of the Misbegotten.” Imagine an alternate world, with an alternate Hell. Imagine the devil as a mad scientist named Howard and his minions are his genetically tampered amalgamations. When Howard the Evil Creator’s greatest possession (the nine oracular pigeons) go missing, he sends a crack team of his sorriest amalgamations on a quest to track them down.
  • I’ll be writing another Literary Mix Tape story, I hope. About the song Hotel California.
  • Harpy novel. Hope I can get it started this year. Thanks to Laura Meyer for helping me think through my MC’s name: Mallory.
  • Keep working on “The Mages of Morrow” novel. Really, I’ve written over 50,000 words on the thing. I’d like to see it go somewhere!
  • BLOGGING! Going to do more of it. Still going to do prompts and such, but I want to start putting up more regular posts…regularly.

Several good things are planned for 2012. Some of them even include dragons. 😉