Monday, December 27, 2010

1000 visitors!! Time for something special...

We've had 1000 hits to "Unwritten", so time for a giveaway! Comment here, and on January 1, when Melange Books launches their new website, I'll draw a name and YOU can win a free copy of my first novel in the Tallenmere series--A Ranger's Tale !!


I'll announce the winner here, and when the book is out in February, I'll send a free copy to the winner. Get to posting!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I woke up stressed today, and then thankful. Odd combination, you say? It took me a while to put it into words, but I came up with something. Writers tend to do that.

Christmas has stressed me out this year. It didn't help that it occurred only weeks after we moved to a new town with a new house and new bills and new everything. I've hardly took the time to sit and ponder the true meaning of it, except for the 7-day nativity I do with the kids each year (thank you, dear friend, for that gift). We've watched a movie or two, cuddled up some, but today I realized that I've got a Savior!

Uh, yeah, you say--that's Christmas, you know, Christ's birthday. Well, I say, it's even better than that. I've got a Savior who loves me even when I burn the biscuits, even when I yell at the kids for sneezing in the cookie dough,  even when I freak out because I forgot to send a card to my fifth cousin Pat, once removed. I've got a Savior who was born a perfect being into an imperfect world, who loves me despite all my imperfections.

So, I can be stressed and thankful all at the same time, and be happy that He gave me the best gift of all. He's trumped everything I can possibly buy, bake, or mold into a bundt pan. I can rest assured, that when one of the kids has a meltdown because Santa brought "Dance Dance Your Feet Off" instead of "Dance Dance Revolution", my Savior still loves me, still loves us, all of us, no matter what the season.

Now, to all my friends and fellow writers all over the world, no matter what you're celebrating or not this time of year, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday, and most of all a few moments of peace among the craziness to enjoy special time with family and friends. Until next time....joy to you and yours.


"Behold...
I bring you good tidings of great joy."

~ Luke 2:10

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are you literally GROWING as a writer?

See, 'cause writing isn't exactly a form of aerobic exercise. It's more of a brain thing. What few calories are burned with those pecking little fingers of yours are offset by that tall mocha latte and the donut you keep nibbling on all morning. Actually, I'm pretty sure the calories from those goodies override the ones lost from the keyboard pecking.

Okay, so here's the deal. We (which I'm sure you understand as "I", but it makes me feel better when I include the rest of the population...you understand) are not getting fit by sitting in front of the computer eating and pecking out our next best-seller (that delusion is another thread altogether). So, we have to make some changes. It's that tired old New Year's resolution all over again. Call it "losing weight" or "getting fit" or "trying not to split our pant seams"--whatever, but the point is, we need to step it up.

Chances are we have a dusty treadmill and weight bench somewhere hiding in the basement, or hidden under clothes or  our kitty's litter box, so let's get that stuff out, set it up somewhere sensible. In front of a big TV is nice. Nature lovers might want a big window where they can watch the birdies and squirrels duke it out over the stale donut remains we just threw out.

Start with something manageable--20 minutes a day. Too much? Ok, 10 minutes. And do some stretches. Throw in a few push-ups. Don't forget those neglected abs. We can sit in a chair and do ab excercises--trust me, I've done it.

To up the stakes, as one writer friend on FB suggested, for every overused word (we could also add adverbs, dangling participles, etc) that we find, the penalty is 10 squats or 10 sit-ups, the choice is ours.


So, after all this Christmas candy/cookie/sugar and trans-fat overload is complete, let's get moving. Grow as a writer in talent alone, get fit, increase the blood flow to our brains so we can peck out that next best-seller.

All right, now who's with us?

Friday, December 17, 2010

900 visitors!! Another excerpt in celebration!

Chapter 15


Galadin


Cali’s locket felt heavy on my neck as I stood at the wheel. I’d left many things behind in my life, but leaving her there alone was about the hardest thing I’d ever done. She was more than just a spoiled, rich girl. I saw it in her eyes when I met her—uncertainty and hopelessness, and when I trained her, she had lit up, like a wilted flower bursting into life. If anyone understood how she felt, it was me, and I’d not shown her the compassion she needed.


The sun had just dipped under the horizon. Shyler joined me at the helm. We set sail, the wind pushing us along, farther from Faewood, farther from Cali. As the sun dipped under the horizon, Shyler joined me at the helm. I’m not sure how he knew what I was thinking; perhaps it was the way my body slumped over the wheel, and how I’d pulled her locket out, rubbing it between my thumb and forefinger.


Shyler slapped a bony hand on my back. He and Bob had sailed with my father all those years ago when they were still in their teens, and I was grateful they had agreed to join me when I started up his business again. They had aged considerably, and I owed them a comfortable life at sea, not a frenzied life on the run with a noble woman I’d foolishly fallen in love with.

His spindly fingers squeezed my shoulder. “Tis a good night to sail.”


I smiled down at him. “Mm-hmm.” 


“I’ve known ya a long time, Cap’n. You’re about a decent a man as I know, like yer father was.”


A lump settled in my throat, and I stared out at the darkening sea. “Sometimes I wonder if he’d be disappointed in me.”


Shyler shook his head, his sun-bleached hair swishing above his ears. He sighed, hunched shoulders sagging even further. “He’d not be disappointed with ya, not for what happened back then. There weren’t a thing you could do about that. If I remember your father correctly, I’d say he’d be right proud, except for one thing.”


I raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”


His squinty eyes met mine. “That you didn’t follow yer heart and go after the woman ya love.”


“But, I can’t just-“


Shyler grabbed the wheel and nudged me out of the way. “Time’s wastin, Cap’n. She might get ate up if ya don’t hurry.”


I stared back at the shoreline. Not quite a half-mile yet. I took off my boots and grabbed a waterproof leather sack, one of many we kept nearby on hooks, just in case we had to abandon ship. The boots went in the sack, along with my dagger and a good bit of gold. I cinched it up tight and tied it on my belt.


When I reached the railing, I yelled over my shoulder, “Send Razor to shore. Head to Arkis. I’ll get word to you there.”


Bob joined Shyler as I climbed atop the rail. They both saluted me.


Bob yelled, “Aye, Cap’n! Go get ‘er!”


I saluted and dove in. The water was fine.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sticking the Landing



It was 1984. An eight-year-old me watched with bated breath as Mary Lou Retton seemed to defy gravity itself and scored two perfect 10's for her vaults in the Summer Olympics. I cheered along with the rest of the country for the little hero who could. Her performances gave us all a surge of joy, of hope that we too could aspire to great things. She made us forget for a time (not that I ever thought much of it back then) about the wobbling economy and the threat of nuclear war.

And, if there was one thing that girl could do, it was sticking her landing. A perfect ending. An applause-inspiring summation to a great show.

I struggle with endings. By the end of a story, I don't know if I'm tired of challenging my characters, or if I feel sorry for them because they've been through so much strife. But, more often than not, my endings are rushed. In my hurry to get to "happily ever after", I sometimes leave my readers saying, "Wait a minute, that was too easy" or "But what happened to so-and-so?"

Just one weakness out of many for me, but if I don't stick that landing and wrap up my endings so that my readers can snap the book shut with a feeling of warm satisfaction, then I haven't done my job as a writer. I haven't scored my perfect 10 and sent the crowd to its feet.

Where do you struggle as a writer? What keeps you from the perfect 10?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why I Write Romance

In case you've ever wanted to ask, which you probably didn't, but I gotta blog about something, right?

It's a life-force, a necessary element, a crucial cog in the machinery of who we are. To some degree or another, we all crave romance. Be it heavy or light, you'll be hard-pressed to find a story or movie without at least a hint of romance somewhere. From our earliest childhood stories, we can remember "they lived happily ever after".

Romance warms us, thrills us, takes us beyond the mundane, removes us from the stresses of everyday life. We want it in our own lives, that whimsical feeling of falling in love and beyond, to have a love so deep that we can't imagine life without our significant other. There is a difference, yes, in that first romantic love and the unconditional love we choose to show our spouses. But, it's never something we forget (or shouldn't, anyway), never something we can't rekindle on a great date night.

This is why I write romance. It's like the first bloom of a fireworks show, the first crimson glow of an extraordinary sunrise, like biting into a warm chocolate chip cookie. It's the icing on the cake of life.

Now, where's my hubby? :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

My gift to you...

Super Easy Dark Chocolate Fudge

2 & 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla (use the pure stuff, please)
Dash salt

Combine chips and milk in large microwave safe glass bowl. Cook on high 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. Mix well. Turn into wax paper-lined square pan and spread evenly. Chill for 2 hours. Turn over onto cutting board, peel off wax paper, and cut into squares.

Now, you can either engorge yourself until you are in a chocolate-induced coma or you can arrive at the Christmas party with a pretty plate of fudge and let everyone think you spent hours stirring and watching the candy thermometer. I won't tell, either way.

Merry Christmas, and happy writing!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Writer Blog

Another writer buddy just made her first blog. Head over and say hello:

Winter Blues

I woke up this morning not wanting to get out of bed. More snow. Frigid temperatures. The neighbor across the street gave up on shovelling his driveway when the snow started again. At least we're not in Minnesota, but still...the weather outside is frightful.

My mood isn't much better. It happens to me often this time of year. Seasonal depression, I guess. I hear a lot of people talking about it. Maybe it's all the stresses of the year before coming to a head as the year ends. Feeling like there are too many loose threads, things left unfinished, goals left unfulfilled.

Do any of you experience the same thing? Writing is my usual therapy. Being in the presence of God is the best, which is why we need to find a church in our new town toute suite. What do you do when the winter blues hit?

Edit: So why didn't I think of this? Baking. It's actually a running joke in my family. "Mysti's baking again. Must be something wrong." I started the morning with writing, and then I took a break to bake a giant gingerbread cookie man/girl with my kiddos.

See our creation? It was supposed to be a "man", but the girls turned him into a girl. My hubby's worried about our boy, the youngest of the three. For good reason, probably.


Friday, December 10, 2010

And the next tale is..."Serenya's Song"

But you'll have to wait a while for excerpts. If all goes right, you'll see it next fall. It's the next in the series after "A Ranger's Tale". Meant to be a novella. Hopefully I can keep it that short!

Here are a couple of songs I'm thinking will play a big part in the "theme".

I Want to Know What Love Is by Mariah Carey

When I Look At You by Miley Cyrus

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Writer Blog

Hey loyal readers (all six of you) and those who sneak in--I've got a writer buddy who's started up his own writer's blog.


Read, post, follow! Let's support each other on this crazy ride!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The good, the bad, the ugly

My new office and desk: good.

Throat on fire, fever, and chills: bad.

Spending so long in the doctor's office and pharmacy that we're feeling worse than ever: ugly.

At least I'm back in the comfort of my office. It's quiet down here in the basement. Got my nature sounds CD's, no kids running amok, and some warm tea with honey for my throat. Now all I need is a lounge chair for napping.

What's that? Am I actually going to write in here, you ask? Or just listen to "Caribbean Breeze" and nap all day? Of course I'm going to write, you ninny. I'm writing right now, aren't I? What do you mean blogging doesn't count? Ok, ok, I'm slowly working on rewriting yet another romantic fantasy, and after the new year, I plan to get way more productive than I am now. I DID just move and it IS just a couple weeks before Christmas. Give the poor sick mama of three a break, will ya?

Speaking of more ugly, here's a question for you. This one trips me up big time. I'm not a planner. I've tried outlining some stories. I've got an outline for a historical romance done, and I've done a few character outlines, which can be helpful, but extensive story planning to me is about as fun as waiting all day in the doctor's office with two sick, crying children (just ask me how fun that is--go ahead).

Do you plan your stories? And how extensively? And is there a way to make planning them fun? Writing is work--yes, got that. I work very hard on what I write and revise, but the whole planning it out thing just hasn't stuck with me yet. I'm not even sure how essential it really is, but there's your question of the day/week/whenever I get around to posting next.

The comment area is open. Feel free to write away. I'll get more tea.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Woot! 800 visitors! An excerpt is in order...

From Chapter 5 (Galadin):

As if history pulled me along, I headed in the direction of our old cottage. The stone foundation still stood, covered in vine and brush. I pulled back some of the growth and sat on one of the old stones. Razor climbed from my arm and sat beside me. Life had taken its toll on this place. And me. Maybe Claude had been right. Maybe I was fooling myself. I’d hoped running my father’s old business and doing an honest day’s work would absolve my sins. Forty-five years old, still young for a half-elf, but old enough to know life didn’t work like that. People reaped what they sowed. Eventually, I’d have to gather a bitter harvest.

We hunted for another hour or so, circling around in the direction of Leogard. Another rabbit ran past, and I sent Razor after it. I hurried through the bush, draeberry thorns catching my clothes. Pulling my way free, I stumbled and smacked directly into…her.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you all right?” I asked.

Caliphany lowered her hood and smoothed out her robes. She smiled. I admit I’d held a vague hope we would cross each other’s paths again, but I’d also told myself a woman of her class and a man of mine had no business being seen with one another. Even though I didn’t know who she was exactly, the clothes she wore told me she didn’t mingle regularly with us working classes.

She tucked some hair behind her ear and blushed. “Captain Trudeaux.”

I bowed. “My lady.”

“Please don’t bow.” She avoided my gaze and clenched her robe. “You weren’t at the docks this morning. I thought you had gone.”

Razor had started tearing into the rabbit, so I held up my finger. “One moment, please.” I knelt to retrieve him and the carcass before it was gone.

Razor eyed Caliphany when I returned to her side. “I sent my men on to Faewood. They’ll be back by the week’s end. We had some Tilliyan coffee beans to deliver.”

Her shoulders slumped. “I’ve read a lot about Tilliya Island.” Her eyes focused somewhere in the distance, and then rested on me again. “So, you’re a falconer?”

“I’m a ranger. Razor accompanies me from time to time. We sell what we hunt and gather. Sometimes I help thin out wildlife. It’s just my job.”

The words rolled off her tongue. “A ranger.”

I nodded, a bit annoyed she found my profession so curious. I killed things for a living. It was a hard, dirty job, one I was sure she could never understand. I cleared my throat. “I’m glad to see you’re in one piece, though still unescorted. Would you like me to walk you back to Leogard?”

She held up a satchel. “I’m gathering plant specimens.”

“As you wish. Well, good day then. I’ve got work to do.” I began to walk away.

“Wait,” she said.

I turned, and Caliphany approached me, opened her mouth, shut it again, and finally spoke. “I wanted to thank you for rescuing me.”

If she was any other woman, from the lower end of society, I might have thought she was flirting. “You already did, I believe, and it’s not necessary. Good day.” I tried to walk away again.

“Wait.”

Razor screeched and puffed his feathers when I turned back around. “Easy, now. Look, Caliphany, it’s really not necessary-”

“I want you to train me.”

I stepped closer. She blushed. I wrinkled my brow and asked, “Pardon?”

The words tumbled from her mouth. “You know how to handle yourself, handle weapons. I want to learn that as well. Will you train me?”



Monday, November 29, 2010

Playing with the templates

Trying to find something that fits the cover of "A Ranger's Tale". What do you think of this one?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm back...kinda

Moving throws a wrench into everything. If you're moving farther than across town--say, 2 1/2 hours away--it really is a big change. Kids start a new school tomorrow, hubby starts a new job, and I start a new life handling things for my family.

The good news is, I've got a whole new room that will (eventually) be set up as my own office. A new desk is coming this week. We have internet service again, and after a few thousand more boxes get unpacked and we get through the holidays, I'm looking forward to a new year of lots of writing!

Seriously having withdrawals, people. But, I'm looking forward to working on an anthology of three tales scheduled for release next fall, plus finishing up that historical romance I started last year. I hate that I've let that one sit for so long. It shall be finished, so help me Lord.

A Ranger's Tale will be out in February. I'll keep you all updated on it's release. Until then, hope you all have a great holiday season! More excerpts to come...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Honorable Mention for "Buyer's Remorse"

I won an honorable mention (one of the top 25 out of 300) for Women on Writing's summer flash fiction contest. I'm really excited! It's the first contest I've submitted to since high school.

Here's the link if you'd like to read:



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Sale at Midnight Showcase!

All digests and novels, including "Hearts of Tomorrow", which includes my novelette "Let There Be Love" are on sale for $3.99!

Follow the picture link above to order!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yet another scene from "A Ranger's Tale"

Since I'm moving soon and don't know what my blog time will look like for a long while, I'll give you yet another scene. Hope you enjoy! Feedback is welcome!

From Chapter 33...

About a mile ahead, we reached the Greenbriar Hills, where outcroppings of white rocks dotted the rolling landscape like toppled pawns on a chessboard. Jayden and I shared fearful glances. The ambush opportunity was great. We were lucky to have clear skies, and few trees, but it was necessary for us to ride far ahead of the caravan to ensure the way was clear.

We approached the first outcropping, where two rock formations flanked the road. A sense of dread mounted inside me. Jayden stared at the ground and motioned for us to stop before we rode between the rocks.

“Cali,” he whispered, “go back to the caravan. Tell the guards to draw arms.”

“Can’t we just turn around?”

“Too late. We’d never outrun them. Go!”

I tugged on the reins and turned Charlot back. When I reached the caravan, I yelled, “Guard the mages!”

The six paladins drew their swords, and flanked in closer to the carriages, surrounding them on all sides. My father leaned out the window of his carriage. “What’s happening?”

“I think your enemies are upon us.”

“Then I will fight.”

His face held a mixture of regret and determination. A fiery spark ignited in his eyes. I caught a glimpse of my father’s renowned power, the magic that Academy students whispered about in the corridors, magic that had once ensured my uncle’s throne. I felt a swell of pride to be his daughter in that moment, but I had no idea what kind of threat we faced. He was some five hundred years old, and had not faced any foes for a very long time.

I readied my bow. “You might have to, but stay in the carriage for now.”

Tension filled the air like a sickening fog. The only sounds were the horses shifting their feet. Not a bird sang. Not a puff of wind blew.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another excerpt from "A Ranger's Tale"

Chapter 3

Caliphany

Prompt as ever, Sir Malchior stood just inside the door of the preparation room in the manor’s basement. Arms crossed, he glared at me over his spectacles. He had a prominent nose and long, brown hair so dark, it was almost black. I never recalled him smiling and thought his face might break if he tried.

“You are ten minutes late, Lady Caliphany. My time is precious. Shall we get on with this?”

I took a deep breath and stepped onto the dais, mumbling all the way. “You are five hundred years old. What’s the rush?”

Sir Malchior took his seat and raised his head from the scroll he studied. He pushed up his spectacles. “What was that?”

“Nothing. I’m ready.”

“Very well.” He narrowed his eyes and studied my face. “Are you quite all right?”

“I-I’m fine.”

He shrugged. “Let’s begin.”

My hands shook from the near-kidnapping. But I steadied them the best I could, closed my eyes, and drew from reservoirs of concentration deep in my mind’s recesses. A tiny flame appeared in my palm. The fire never burned anymore, but merely tickled. It had taken me some seventy-five years to get to this point, from when I first joined the academy. My father was counting on me to succeed.

I began to rehearse the words I would use to present my dissertation. “Fire, one of the four primary elements, instrumental in both destruction and creation, is not one single entity, but consists of four distinct components. I will now show you each of these components as I separate them from the mother flame.”

The flame grew larger and brighter, a flickering mixture of yellow, red, white, and blue in my palm. I glanced at Sir Malchior, who watched from his seat in the small auditorium. I lifted my other hand, palm up, to hover beside the first hand. Concentrate, Caliphany. Concentrate. Four metal stands sat on the bench before me, waiting for each component.

“The first component.” I carefully enunciated every word in the spell. Pyronea icterica.

Pure yellow fire jumped from the mother flame to my empty hand. I gently deposited it on the first stand. Sir Malchior scribbled some notes. He gestured for me to continue.

“The second component, pyronea ruberica. I separated out a bright red flame and placed it on the second stand.

“The third component, pyronea albidica.” A stunning white flame leapt from the shrinking mother flame into my empty hand. I placed it on the third stand.

Sir Malchior scribbled again. The nearly perfect tear-shaped flames danced on their stands in front of me. Only one more—the blue flame remaining in my palm.

I continued, with unexpected confidence lacing my words. “And now the hottest component of all, pyronea azurica. This was the part where I would show off, surprising Sir Malchior when I bounced the flame from one hand to the other, making it leap to the last platform.

The flame leapt to my other hand, but then my mind lost its focus. Unwanted visions of those brutes on the dock flashed before my eyes. I imagined their hands upon me, and could barely resist the impulse to rub their lingering stench from my face. I realized everything was falling apart when I finally pushed aside the memory of those green eyes.

Galadin, his name was Galadin.

The blue flame jumped from my hand to the bench, flared and projected itself directly toward Sir Malchior, who raised his head just in time to notice. His eyes flew wide open; he screamed and ducked. The flame hit the stone wall behind him and shook the room. The others flickered and faded until they were gone.

“I-I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. Are you all-?”

Sir Malchior shot from his seat and removed his hand from the top of his head. Smoke rose from the patch of bare scalp and the ring of singed brown hair around it.

“You…are…hopeless!” He stormed out just as my father entered the room. Sir Malchior wagged a finger at him. “Your daughter. Your daughter!”

Father blinked, then turned his disappointed gaze on me. He winced when the front door slammed. I tried not to cringe. Hands behind his back, he stepped toward me. I swallowed, wishing my mouth wasn’t so dry. I willed my eyes to meet his, framed in the stone of his unsmiling face.

He calmly brushed his platinum hair behind his shoulder. “You were late this morning.”

“I know. I’m sorry, Father.”

“Come with me. I would like a word with you.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How do you like the cover?

Here's a preview of the front cover for "A Ranger's Tale", coming February 2011. Check out the right sidebar!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Another excerpt from "A Ranger's Tale"

Downstairs, in the tavern, we ate a hearty meal of roasted chicken, potatoes, and wild rice. We sat at a corner table, where the music and chatter all around us afforded a chaotic anonymity. Galadin wore a white shirt, with tight cuffs and generous sleeves, loosely laced at his collarbone. His tawny hair was clean, but unruly as ever.

He spoke above the tavern’s roar. “So, you’ve never seen Tilliya Island?”

I shook my head.

“I think it’s time I show you.”

“You don’t have a ship,” I shouted.

“I know where I can get one.”

“No stealing!”

Galadin drew an invisible “x” over his chest. “Cross my heart.”

When the waiter came by, I ordered Draeberry wine. Galadin raised an incredulous brow.

“Same for me,” he said, and the faery waiter flew back to the bar. He looked at me with a one-sided smile. “One glass of that, and I’ll be having my way with you.”

The waiter returned. I wrapped my fingers around the cold glass. “Oh? I doubt that.”

Five glasses later, we were dancing. A visiting gypsy band played. Their tambourines, bongo drums, and fiddles surrounded us with sultry melodies. The music animated our bodies, drifted around us in a seductive, rhythmic embrace. He clasped my body against his. We shimmied and swayed—so different than the ballroom dancing to which I was accustomed. His hearty laughter was as intoxicating as the wine. I never wanted this night to end. In his arms, I was free to be myself, to let down my guard and allow my heart to soar. Galadin had made me believe in myself, and if we never shared another night like this, I would always be grateful to him for that.

Among the crowd of strangers, no one cared that we danced like lovers. My breasts pressed into his chest. I gripped his back, and we swished as one being into the rising tempo. When my leg traveled up his thigh, he gripped my knee and I let my shoulders and head fall back away from him. He swung me in a half circle and then pulled me up again. Our faces were so close, his hot breath caressed my lips. I kissed him wildly, and he stumbled.

When I pulled back, he said, “Gawd, you’re beautiful. Jesh quit beatin around the bush and shtay with me tonight.”

I sighed and shook my head. “Sure. Let me help you to the room.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ta Da!

I've now pasted all chapters together--still need some fine tuning, but I've ended up with about 74,000 words of romantic fantasy. I can't believe I actually expanded it that much. Wow! My first book. How cool is that?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mysti's Overused Words

Here is a short list of some of my most overused words. You tend to notice these things when you get down to the final edit of a 44-chapter novel. Thought I'd share the words I'm trying to eradicate:

  1. managed to
  2. swallowed hard
  3. up
  4. looked
  5. walked
  6. that
  7. saw
  8. felt
  9. heard
  10. Leading participial phrases, such as: "Turning my head, I saw Cali's face beside mine." (This one has both a leading participial phrase AND the word saw.)

None of these words are bad and I'm not saying they should never be used. I'm far from being a writing expert, but I like to share what I learn as I go. Any of these, used too often, can weaken the narrative and make it read as too repetitive or redundant.

Like "stand up", for instance. You don't need the "up". If you stand, of course, you're moving UP, so it's redundant to use them both together.

Please feel free to share your own overused words and tips to eliminate them to make for cleaner writing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A line from "A Ranger's Tale"

I like this one. What can I say?

I parted my lips and caught his kiss. He smelled like the forest, like his leathers. I reveled in the heat of his breath, the feel of sandpaper on his scruffy chin, his hands grasping me like I was the only thing keeping him from floating away into the universe.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another excerpt from "A Ranger's Tale"

Chapter 21

Caliphany

The forest surrounding the Howling Caves was much darker than the village. Full of shadow and mist, I thought it ominous. Encroaching storm clouds threatened to shut out what little light filtered through the thick canopy. The twisted penuke trees, draped in long, weeping vines and the lonely howls echoing from the caves brought sadness to my heart. It was as if they were telling me nature itself was out of balance here, and injustice had left its mark.

“You feel it too, don’t you?” Galadin whispered.

Unexpected tears clouded my eyes. “Yes. What happened here?”

Galadin sighed. “Pirates. The Goldtooth and others. They take what they want and leave the land barren. The people here have learned to protect themselves, but the wildlife isn’t so lucky. The bear are starving, since the plunderers kill off their prey. The poison on our arrows should dispatch them quickly.”

A little farther in, we found bear tracks. We concealed ourselves and followed the trail until we came upon a mother bear several feet away. Not far behind was her cub. Saggy skin hung over prominent bones. The little one cried pitifully to its mother, who couldn’t have had any milk to give. I raised my bow, took a deep breath, and shot the mother in her neck. The poisoned arrow worked quickly to put the weak mother out of her misery. Galadin did the same with the cub.

The wind picked up, and leaves blew all around us. We dropped concealment and continued through the forest. Light rain began to fall.

Galadin studied the sky. “I think the storm’s headed this way. We best turn back soon.”

We had reached a large rock outcropping, where the wide, dark mouth of a cave yawned before us. Growling echoed from inside. My skin crawled. We quickly concealed ourselves, but the huge bear that lurched out of the shadows either smelled or spotted us, and it charged our way. Galadin fired an arrow into the beast’s chest. The bear stumbled, but pulled itself up and charged again. Galadin dropped his concealment and ran backwards while he nocked another arrow, but he tripped over a root and fell on his backside. His last shot only managed to graze the bear’s shoulder, further enraging the animal.

Terror gripped my heart as the bear hurled itself toward Galadin. In one instant, I had an idea. There was no time for doubt. I nocked an arrow with a glowing hand. Searing fire erupted from my fingers as I aimed and shot. A fiery shaft flew from my bow, hitting the bear as it made a final leap toward Galadin. The bear blew apart, filling the air with singed fur and flesh.

Galadin lowered his arm from his eyes, shook bear parts out of his hair, and stared up at me. A grin spread across his face. He held out his hand, and I helped him up.

“You never fail to amaze me, Caliphany Aranea.”

I picked some bear flesh off his vest. “Call me Cali.”

New Theme Music Added

Check out my romantic theme music in the right sidebar. Add them to your own playlist for a night of romance!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Stigma of Writing Romance

Mushy, unintelligent, clunky, cliche, whiny, contrived, lame, gross, clinical, predictable--these are just some of the terms I've heard about the romance genre over the years. When I was a mere reader, I didn't pay much attention to those opinions. I simply liked reading romance. Now that I write it, I often become conscious of those stigmas, and spend lots of time fussing over my stories, trying hard not to fall prey to the stigmas.

Then, I take a deep breath and remember that I must be realistic. Romance, as any other genre, will not be a favorite of everyone. We all have our biases. I know from my own reading experience that there are very good, and not-so-good, romance stories out there. Perhaps it's the not-so-good ones that generate the bad vibes.

So, my number one goal is to focus on the story itself. To keep it interesting, realistic (to a point--it is fantasy, right?), and suspenseful. When the story falls into place, the characters will come along with it, driving it in some areas, and the strong current of romance can run throughout.

Will I succeed? That is yet to be seen, but I'm sure as time goes on, I can improve. Practice makes perfect, don't ya know?

What are your own thoughts on romance as a genre? Do you read it? Roll your eyes at the thought of it? Have you read both "good" and "bad" romances? Feel free to comment...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Excerpt from "A Ranger's Tale"

My first novel, to be released February, 2011. Enjoy this excerpt. More on the way!

[This is the heroine, Caliphany] It had been little over a month since Galadin and I had met. The Festival of Peace would be over back in Leogard. The month of Inver gave way to the month of Feyth. Autumn’s chill settled over me as I ran down the road leading west out of Faewood. The road rose gradually toward the mountains. Night fell, and I depended on the roadside torches to light my way until the road narrowed at its entrance into the mountains.

In the darkness, I scanned ahead and saw nothing but the faint outline of road. Behind, I saw nothing but the lights of Faewood below and the edge of the light thrown by the last road torches. I dropped concealment, pulled my cloak around me tightly, and continued on my way.

When it became too dark to see the path, I stopped and looked around me. I thought about summoning a flame in my palm to light the way, but I decided it might be too bright and could give away my location. A faint blue light shone under some tall trees. From my botanical studies, I knew it to be the iridescence of Alder mushrooms. I picked one of them, turning the mushroom over to reveal the glowing gills underneath.

Luminae aldero si, I chanted, waving my hand over it.

The light intensified just enough for me to see the road ahead, and I smiled. Holding my new light source in front of me, I shivered at the vastness of the mountain forest. Owls hooted somewhere overhead. Something scampered nearby. I trembled. To my right, a footpath veered off the main road. I took a deep breath and ventured down the path, hoping to find a village eventually.

After a long trek, I came to a clearing. No sign of civilization. Instead of going further, I decided to make camp. Never in my life had I slept outdoors. I gathered up some dry wood and placed it near a fallen log. The mushroom light finally faded, but soon the light of blue fire in my palm lit up the clearing. I flicked a small burst of flame into the wood, and before long, I had a warm, crackling fire.

I was quite proud of myself, though beyond the perimeter of the fire’s light, total darkness closed in. Sinking down onto the ground, I rested my back against the log and wrapped my cloak as tightly around me as I could. When my stomach rumbled again, I remembered the evynfruit. I took it from my satchel and bit into it, savoring the tangy, starchy flesh. It didn’t take long for me to devour it. I had just wiped my mouth with the hem of my cloak when I heard a noise behind me.

I froze. It was very subtle, just a small crack of a twig. Then another. Flipping around, I unsheathed Galadin’s sword and crouched behind the log. Whatever was behind me was too close to hide from. I’d have to fight it off. I tried to remember everything Galadin had taught me about sword fighting. My hand shook as I clenched the heavy weapon.

Behind me came a growl, on the other side of the fire. I flipped around again. My heart threatened to leap from my chest. I was surrounded—how would I fight off more than one thing? The growl in front of me grew louder. I held the sword with both hands; my arms shook violently when I saw the reflection of yellow eyes.

I sneaked a peek behind me, behind the log. I saw nothing, but thought there might be more of whatever it was. Turning my attention to the eyes in front of me again, my breath caught when it came charging. A wolf rounded the fire, then leapt straight at me. I held my sword aloft, hoping to impale it. As it landed on me, I toppled over, and it yelped. But, the sword hadn’t even pierced it. I stared at its limp body. An arrow stuck out from the wolf’s side.

I screamed.




Thursday, October 14, 2010

What the heck is Tallenmere?

It's a world of fantasy, of magic, of intrigue. Is it Tolkienesque? Perhaps. But there are no orcs. Orcs are so overdone. And elves in Tallenmere aren't nearly so perfect and mysterious as Tolkien's elves. They have their skeletons in their tidy closets.

Mostly, Tallenmere is a world in which my imagination can run wild. It's the stuff dreams and nightmares are made of. Epic romances can emerge as love at first sight, and terrible tragedy can happen in a flash.

In Tallenmere, you'll find elves--high elves, wood elves, dark elves. There are, of course, humans, that most rigorous and versatile of races. You'll find faeries, barbarians, dwarves, halflings, ogres, and trolls. You might even find a secret race or two as the stories unfold. What you'll always find is romance, mingled with suspense, and you'll never know what the characters might do or go through next (I hope).

We'll begin our journey of Tallenmere in it's largest land, the land of Innessa, named after the creator goddess of the high elves.

Innessa is divided into four provinces. To the west lies Leogard, home to high elves, humans, and halflings. It's the largest province, and is ruled by the high elf King Leopold Vaeloria. The capital city, Leogard (yes, same as the province), can be seen for miles, surrounded by a tall, white wall. Until Leopold's reign, Leogard was closed off to much of the world. Now, with Leopold's devotion to the god Omri, he has opened up the city to the rest of Tallenmere, and conducts his own crusades in nearby lands to bring Omri's peace to the hurting.

In the east is Faerion, home to faeries and dwarves. It's capital city is Faewood, a popular tourist destination, known for it's music, architecture, and food. The Eastwood mountains of Faerion are vast and mysterious, filled with some unusual creatures, some of which can be quite deadly.

To the north is Hezral--cold, rocky, and home to some very hardy humans. They're fishermen and traders, and rumor has it they have a vampire problem.

In the south lie the swampy lands of Yggrich--home to warring bands of ogres and trolls. Every now and then, they emerge to cause problems in Leogard. Good scouts are needed to keep these uglies in check.

Thanks to all who've visited and turned over the 500 mark! I've no more books to hand out yet, but when we get to 1000, by golly, I'll do something special.

For now--I'll open it up to any questions about Tallenmere you might have. Post em, and I'll answer the best I can.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm not dead

I just feel that way. Sinus infections do that to me. And preparing to move. Boy do I need a va-ca, Even just a chance to sit down and write. I'm not sure when that will happen again. It's rather depressing.

In bloggy news, I'm thinking of starting a series all about Tallenmere--the fantasy world where my romance tales come to life! You will also be able to ask questions, and I will do my best to answer them, as long as it doesn't give away spoilers :) Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Contest news!

I've made it through the first round of judging in a flash fiction contest--in the top 100 out of 300 stories so far. I'm pretty excited! Hopefully, I'll make it to the top 25 at least, and better yet, the top 3, but if not, at least I've gotten this far. I should know the final results in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 1, 2010

We have a winner!

The winner of our 400 visitors raffle is Cheryl! Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Review for "Let There Be Love"

"Just read the short story you gave me this AM...you are an excellent writer! The story moved fast, and you developed the characters well. Rich details. Wow! I didn't know you had it in you! May God richly bless and use you in ways you never imagined!"

Thanks for the wonderful comments!

Don't forget the raffle--comment on yesterday's post for a chance to win one more copy of "Hearts of Tomorrow" before we move in November!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We've had 400 visitors now...guess what time it is?

IT'S RAFFLE TIME!

I've got one more free copy of Hearts of Tomorrow, which includes my novelette, Let There Be Love. Comment here on this post for your chance to win!

I'll draw a winner on Thursday or Friday of this week, depending on responses, so hurry up if you want a copy signed by yours truly.

If you win, I'll ask for your info and mail or deliver depending on your location.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Finished!

The novella turned novel is now completely rewritten! Forty-three chapters of magic-filled, suspenseful romance. Nothing feels better than writing "THE END"--except, perhaps, writing "THE END" after the very final edit.

That's the next step, but for now, I'll take a wee break from it and come back with fresh eyes so I can cut and add on where necessary.

By the way, if you've read Let There Be Love, let me know what you think. You can comment here, email, or private message. Even if it didn't work for you, let me know--I want to improve!

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Review of Let There Be Love

From a writer friend/critique partner:

"I just read Let There Be Love! Can I be the president of your fan club?

I enjoyed Sibylis and thought she was a great three dimensional character. She was both strong and dark, but also loved her friends and family. [I've removed some spoiler info here--you'll have to read to find that out!]

I love stories with tyrannical characters, political intrigue, and dark secrets that can get people killed. Plus, this story had romance! It was perfect and original! [More spoiler info involving a character that appears in my work in progress--you'll have to read to discover that tid-bit too]

I could go on and on about how much I liked it, but I need to focus on building you a fan club.

Congratulations again on the publication of your amazing story!"

Thanks for the great review!

Would you care to add one? If you've read, leave a comment here, or feel free to send an e-mail or private Facebook message. I'll post your comments (minus the spoilers and your name).

Thirty-nine and Counting

Working on chapter 39 today. The end is near. The climax has happened; it's all down hill from here. Except there may be a final twist or two. These poor characters have been put through the wringer. I can't wait until I can tell you all about it. Next spring should bring some nice surprises!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Roller Coaster

Do you find yourself on a criticizing roller-coaster? Even in the course of one day, I alternate between "Hey, I can write!" to "I can't write at all." How do you capture and hang onto the confidence? When I feel confident, I can sit and write for hours. It fuels the process, I guess. And then I'm open to learning new things, to editing what's not working, etc. When I get the blahs, I just want to walk away.

Today's starting off blah. I hope the roller coaster starts climbing again. I like the rush of the twists and turns, when the ride whips along, taking me to unexpected places. Being in the blahs is like waiting in line for two hours watching the lucky ones in front have their fun.

Maybe coffee will help.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The End is In Sight!

I can't believe a novella has become a novel. I'm not even sure the word count yet, but I've just finished with chapter 36. So, now I officially have two novels (one historical and one fantasy) in the works. Crossing my fingers that I get them both finished by the end of the year.

My intention was to finish the historical first, but now that the other one is so close to being finished, I've got to get it done. I see the light at the end of the tunnel! I'm going for the light!


We have a winner!

Congratulations Stacey for winning today's raffle. You'll receive a copy of Hearts of Tomorrow, which includes my novelette, Let There Be Love.

Stay tuned for more raffles, polls, random thoughts, and more on Unwritten!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's RAFFLE time!!

In celebration of the almost 300 visitors to Unwritten, I'm hosting another raffle of Hearts of Tomorrow. Yeah, I know it's only at 299 at the time of this post, but if you're the next one reading it, you're number 300, so make a comment here on this post, and on Tuesday of next week, I'll draw a name.

If you're the winner, I'll ask for your info, and send you a signed copy (by me) of the anthology which includes my novelette, Let There Be Love. Post away!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Am I The Only One?

Who has trouble coming up with creative ways to describe ordinary actions? I find my characters do a lot of "looking" and "smiling" and "frowning", and when they're done boring themselves silly with that, they go "walking".

Anyone else struggle with this? I'm pretty proficient with dialogue. I can crank out some decent narrative, but when it comes to things like:

"Put the gun down!" Harry screamed, looking at Mike.

Mike smiled. "Nah. I think I'm gonna watch you die."

It just needs some oomph. Any suggestions on how to spruce up common actions?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Theme" Music List Added

Check out the sidebar to see some of the songs that are inspiring my writing at the moment. Nothing like these selections to get me in that heartbreaky, romantic, dramatic mood. I recommend Napster for your downloads. Enjoy!

Deep Cleaning Needed

Yesterday, I finally finished deep-cleaning my kitchen. Windows, doors, and curtains are their correct colors. Gone are the greasy dust bunnies that lurked on top of each cabinet door and piece of trim. The ceiling fan and light fixtures are sparkling.

What's this got to do with writing? Editing, my friend. Deep cleaning a room is like editing a story. Regular room maintenance--sweeping, de-cluttering, etc--is like writing a story. Getting the nuts and bolts down so to speak. But then you have to eventually clean up the stuff nobody sees on the surface. And when it's done, it all really looks cleaner.

Editing a story is much like that. On the surface, you may end up with a first draft that looks pretty good. Then when you go back to read it later, you find those greasy dust bunnies lurking that aren't perhaps all that obvious. You can still cook dinner in a dusty kitchen, after all. But, when you clean up those greasy dust bunnies of over-used words, bad grammar, and plot holes, the story starts to shine. It was ok before, but now it just looks (and reads) cleaner.

Except, editing is the hardest part, like the deep-cleaning of a room. It's the initial writing that's fun, right? You get into that evil wizard hurling fire at everything in sight. But, when you go back to edit, you see that the wizard just has to die, or his dialogue is horrible. It's hard to kill your "darlings". Like my kitchen, I often let my stories sit for a long, long time before I give them a good deep-cleaning. When I do though, I notice the difference, and I can finally sit back and enjoy it. Because, unlike kitchens, once a story is completely polished, it doesn't need cleaning up again. I rather like that.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Have you read these before?

http://www.writing-world.com/romance/cliches.shtml

She's a naive virgin. He's a lustful womanizer. She's weak. He's strong. He schools her in the ways of physical love. Yeah, we've all read them. Heck, I've probably even written it. This article from Writing-World.com explores the topic of clichéd romance plots. I think I'll print it up and tape it by my monitor. Nothing wrong with a naive virgin every now and then, but I'll try to remember to spice it up and make her a gun-toting, strong, naive virgin at the very least.

What are your experiences with reading so-called clichéd romance? Is it cause for you to close the book?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

La, la, la....whoa!!

Avoiding Plotholes: Inconsistencies, Character Behavior, and Story Structure

I just finished reading a rather steamy fantasy romance over the weekend. The writing was pretty good, the characters interesting, the storyline unique. However, I hit a huge plot hole that I don't know how the author or an editor missed (not to mention some pretty bad typos too, but I won't go into that). In this story, the main female character discovers toward the end of the book that whatever she writes will come true, as she happens to be a sorceress and didn't know it. Anywho, the villain is after her and her fantasy macho lover who's from another world. The villain wants to get to this world to rule it, etc, etc. She is desperate to get down to the tournament arena where her lover is fighting the bad guy, but the police have put the woman under guard in her hotel room....she gets the idea to write down "The police will pay no attention to me when I leave the room." So, off she goes past the police officer guarding her, down to where the fight is taking place so she can help her lover.

Anyone see the plot hole here? Why didn't she just type, "The bad guy has a massive heart attack and dies. The End." ?? This particular issue wasn't addressed, to my disappointment. If he had perhaps been so powerful that she could not change anything that HE did by writing it, then that should have came up (perhaps I missed it, but I ain't goin back).

This article from Women on Writing addresses plot hole issues, which I will be paying closer attention to as I write my tales.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today's Winner is...

Becky Jarvis, who gets a signed (by me) copy of Hearts of Tomorrow. Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Emotional Scenes

There are times, like today, when I write a scene that literally makes me tear up and almost cry. Even when I know what the outcome will be. I hope that's a good sign, that my readers will feel the same emotion when they read, and that they won't put the story down before then. That's my goal, anyway.

To be able to write so that my readers see, feel, and relate to the story and not the words--that is what I am aiming for. Any writer can throw nice big words around, but putting them down in such a manner that it brings the reader in to the scene instead of having them stumble over it, is challenging.

But I figure if I'm crying as I write something, that the scene is probably good as is...I guess we'll see :)

Don't forget to comment on the previous post for your chance to win a signed copy of "Hearts of Tomorrow"! I'll draw a name tomorrow or Friday....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy 200th visitor

In celebration of the two-hundredth visitor to Unwritten, I'm holding another raffle to win a signed (by me) copy of Hearts of Tomorrow, the anthology which includes my novelette Let There Be Love.

Just leave a comment here on this post and I'll draw a name Thursday or Friday depending on the responses I get.

Adults 18 and over only please--happy reading!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Set the Night to Music

I love to listen to music when I'm writing. Specifically music that seems to match the theme of my story. Sometimes, I get ideas from the songs, or they just keep me in touch with the tone I'm going for. Do any of you writers use music as a writing stimulus? Do you pick "theme songs" for your stories? Tell me about em here...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

If You've Read "Let There Be Love"...

Care to write a review? You can do this in a couple of ways. Either by commenting on here, or go to the link where you buy, click on Lulu, and leave a review on Lulu's site. If you've only read LTBL, mention that, but if you've also read the other author's stories, mention them specifically.

Good or bad, I want to hear from you!

I need Facebook Friends!

Hey, peeps and future fans (a girl can dream, can't she?), I've got a Mysti Parker page over on Facebook. If you haven't already, click on my Facebook badge in the right column here on the blog, and friend me. You'll get updates on new stories, giveaways, random thoughts (you're dying to know what's in my head, I can tell), and whatever else I might dream up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Didn't I See That?

Don't you love those de-motivational pics? My husband and I crack up at these. This one speaks to me though--not in a Mr. Ed sort of way, either.
It reminds me of all the "problems" I encounter in my writing. They ought to be obvious, and sometimes they are, but more often than not, I have to rely on other readers to point out the horse in my hole, er, issues that effect my story.

Which is why I highly recommend getting some good critique partners if you are serious about writing with a goal of publishing. These, unfortunately, shouldn't include your friends, coworkers, spouses, significant others, parents, Sunday School teachers, or your mechanic. Ideally, look for other writers who wish to be critiqued as well. They'll point out your proverbial horses in the hole, and if you do it often enough, you'll finally start to see your own horses in the hole before they become a problem.

Many critiquing sites exist either online or in your larger towns. You can even form your own, if you know some other writers locally. If you're a reclusive full-time mama like me, I'd suggest www.critiquecircle.com. Membership is free, unless you upgrade to a premium membership. You'll find a place for any genre you're interested in there. Since I joined last fall, I have learned to spot my horses in the hole better than ever before. Now if I can just keep them from falling in there in the first place...

We have a winner!

Congratulations bakabailey! You've won a free signed copy of Hearts of Tomorrow, which includes my novelette Let There Be Love! Stay tuned for another raffle soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's RAFFLE time!!

Are you a romance fan 18 years and over?

I will draw one name tomorrow for a free copy of Hearts of Tomorrow, which includes my novelette Let There Be Love, along with four other great stories.

All you have to do is leave a comment here. If you are the winner, I'll ask for your info so I can send your book to you!

**EDIT: Raffle extended until Tuesday--I'll draw a name then and pick a winner!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Waiting, waiting...

I chose the free shipping option for the "Hearts of Tomorrow" prints. Needless to say, that was also the slowest option. Soon as they arrive, I'll ask everyone to post a comment, and I'll draw names to pick a winner. You'll get a free signed copy, shipped to wherever you are. Or delivered if you are local.

Hopefully, this will occur next week, and I'll consider it a celebration of reaching 100+ visitors to my blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Looking Back

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Drop a line here and tell us about it.

Let's see--for me, I don't remember the very first thing I wrote. I do remember a very early essay though, called "The Sad Christmas". My grandfather died on Christmas Eve when I was four or five. A few years later, maybe the second or third grade, I wrote that essay about his death. Even then, I liked to write. It helped me cope with things I didn't understand. It was therapy on paper. A way for a shy girl to speak her mind, to articulate what she couldn't put into spoken words. It's much the same today, my therapy, my outlet for a mind brimming with imagination.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking for a Writing Class?

Try out Gotham Writers' Workshop. Visit http://www.writingclasses.com/. The classes aren't cheap, but cheaper than a college course. And there's the convenience of doing them in your own home. You get to read, write, critique, and discuss your work and other writing topics with your classmates and instructor. They have a wide variety of classes to choose from, so if you are looking for another avenue to learn writing skills, give em a try.

And, no, this is not a paid advertisement. They get my money, not the other way around.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Thoughts

Mondays have never been my favorite day. Yet, today, I feel stronger, more positive. Death has a way of making you realize how much you take things for granted. My sweet nephew passed away last week, and saying goodbye was really hard. Despite the heaviness that pulls at my heart constantly, despite the tears that threaten to fall at all hours, I know that he is ok now, and I know that we have to go on. We can honor his memory by not taking anything for granted. All our blessings are just that--gifts from God that we should enjoy.

So, I will keep writing. The ideas will be put to paper. Hopefully, readers will find as much joy in reading my tales as I have in writing them. If any of you have read Let There Be Love, let me know what you think. I want to learn and grow, so if anything didn't work, I want to know that too.
Whatever you do this week, remember to count your blessings and enjoy God's gifts!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Want a print version of Hearts of Tomorrow?

I've got a few copies ordered. That means it'll soon be time for a raffle. Stay tuned for details....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hearts of Tomorrow just released!


This anthology includes my first romantic fantasy story, Let There Be Love. Order your copy today, courtesy of Midnight Showcase Fiction. Just click here:

Warning: These stories are for adults only, 18 and over.

Monday, August 2, 2010

An Excerpt from Let There Be Love

While we're waiting for the release, I thought I'd share an excerpt from chapter one of Let There Be Love. Enjoy!

The Ironhaven University was a short, but bleak walk from New Mortyr. Sibylis dreaded the daily trek, where raw sewage floating by in the ditches turned her stomach. The homes and businesses were all built with the same gray stone, with a few narrow windows, where every resident could look out to see a strange contrast on their smelly streets. At practically every corner stood sooty gold-plated statues of the emperor, and at the bottom of each one was engraved a motivational slogan, such as "Let us thank our Emperor for peace and prosperity".

Sibylis smirked at the statue just outside the School of Dark Arts, its arms spread wide in a sickening fatherly gesture. Beside the statue stood one of the many newspaper vendors, selling the only newspaper in Ironhaven, The Emperor's Wisdom. She often wondered what the city had been like in the days of Xegon, when it was said that the dark elves of Mortyr and the humans of Ironhaven had shared the land in peace. All she had ever known was the progressive tyranny of one corrupt human ruler after another, until Sarvonn assassinated the rightful king and rose to power. Now he called himself Emperor, posing as a benevolent leader, brainwashing his people with these wretched statues and propaganda.

Sibylis entered the great library and tossed her bag onto a table. She began to search through the musty tomes on the shelf and found Understanding the Undead, written by the ancient warlock-king Xegon himself. Thumbing through the pages, she tried to discover another secret hidden in the cryptic journal. She paused when a familiar voice whispered to her from behind.

“Why do you insist on studying necromancy, Sibylis?”

The dark elf male sat a box of new tomes on the table, began to sort them alphabetically, and placed them on the shelves.

“My reasons are my own, Ashten. Leave me to my work,” Sibylis whispered.

Ashten D’Vynn sidled up to Sibylis, opened her bag slightly, and peeked inside. She jerked it away and pulled the drawstring shut.

“You’re going to be shunned wherever you go, even among our people.”

Sibylis answered him with silence and flipped through the pages of the old tome.

“Look, I know you’re hurting…” he began.

She jerked her head up to meet his gaze. “What do you know of pain?” Sibylis snapped.

“She was my twin sister. And they were my parents. I was deployed with the army and couldn’t be there…to even try to save them. I have no family left at all. Do you forget that?”

Sibylis lowered her head and tried to concentrate on the words in front of her, but couldn’t seem to make sense of what she had just read.

“You can’t bring Ashanee back, Sibylis.”

“I don’t want to bring her back, but I want to do more than just stand and watch another person I love die in pain."

Sibylis lowered her head and averted her eyes, regretful she had divulged such emotion.

Ashten laid his hand lightly upon hers. “Then why not be a healer?”

“And be forced to mend Sarvonn’s army? Never!”

The head librarian raised his head from a nearby table and sneered at them. Ashten tightened his grip on Sibylis’s hand.

“You may be forced to raise an undead army for them—have you considered that?”

He leaned in closer as he whispered and his violet eyes peered down into hers. For a dark elf, Ashten was tall. Sibylis was tiny. The top of her head barely reached his chin. He had been drafted as a fighter with the militia, but had badly injured his leg during one of the Emperor’s raids in Leogard. Though he had healed quite well, he still had a slight limp. He was grateful, actually, when the militia had deemed him unfit after his injury, so he worked as a courier between Mortyr and Ironhaven, and took on other menial city jobs as well.

Sibylis almost jerked her hand from his grasp, but felt somehow comforted by his touch. She had grown up with him and Ashanee. Her best friend’s twin brother seemed like her own family. They shared a bond formed out of the pain of loss no one else could understand. She wasn’t even sure if she understood it.

“When I am powerful enough to raise an army, I will have acquired the means to lead my family to safety,” she whispered.

“For your sake, Sibylis, I hope you can. If they can kill my family because their taxes were late, I hate to see what they might do to yours if they discover your secrets.”

He gently squeezed her hand one more time and returned to his duties.