Emma

Inspired by:  Sinking – Jars of Clay

So in my last blog post I promised a conclusion to Alex and Marc but that I had a character that demanded fleshing out. At the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday,  my brain decided now was the appropriate time.  If any of you remember Emma Jacobs, you’ll be getting another look at her today.   Enjoy!

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“No, I would appreciate you not displaying such talents in my home.”

Her guest had come and gone three short months ago.  As of this moment, her brother had not discovered her but Emma Jacobs suspected she was on borrowed time.  Fate’s ever meddling presence has begun to interfere with her plans. Fate and her bloody hand was going to draw her forward whether she wanted to go or not.  The interfering deity would continue to harass her until she retrieved the item requested.  Hell, she had taken her clerics vows and obtained Fate’s blessing because her mother and grandmother required such things.

Dawn had not even crested the horizon, she noted with a scowl.  With a huff, she sat up in her bed. Only more nightmares would taunt her if she chose to sleep again.  Reluctant duty beat like a pulse at the back of her head. As the days passed the throb became louder than her heart.  Emma bit back a curse and swung from bed.  When I her feet hit the floor, the curse she restrained fell from her lips. Her mother would have boxed her ears for such oaths. Though Adryn was near,  the mornings were still frigid in this part of the realm.

“Cold, cold, cold,”  She hissed until her feet found the slippers she kept near her bed and her hands pulled a heavy wrapper around her body.   A trail of sleepless nights lingered in those hazel eyes and, in that moment, she realized she was not alone.  “Fate damn it all. I am tired of visitors.” She growled as a faint knock sounded at her bedroom door. How the devil had they gotten into her home and past her wards without her knowing?  Was she truly that distracted?  “Troublesome Fate.”  The muttered whisper indicated her annoyance with the whole affair and the temper that was bubbling just on the horizon.

In her mind’s eye, she reached to see if anyone had left any tell-tale markers on her wards. Nothing.  Her brow furrowed as she grabbed the club she kept under the edge of her bed and padded for the door.  Of the many things her grandmother taught them as children, how to track and how to hide was chief among them.   She wove this knowledge into her wards to keep herself safe.  Though her brother knew the mechanics of such things,  he could never weave wards like she could.   Her grandmother explained that the holy arts would always lean more heavily towards the women of their lines.  The men could draw elements and their skill with weapons and fluency was positively frightening.

She raised the club and opened the door to address her invader only to find her motions frozen in mid-air.  Her hands slowed to a stop as she tried to swing through what felt like a thick honey.  Pert, sea-shaded eyes regarded her with a casual calm sparkle.  “Forgive me.”  The voice that came with those pert eyes was gentle.  “I did not mean to cause you alarm.”  Warmth radiated from this woman as an impish smile curled her lips.  “Can you please put the club down?  I managed to get out without an escort and I would never hear the end of it if harm came to me.”

Suddenly, Emma could move again.  She had not seen such warmth in anyone since her grandmother’s gentle grace passed on.  A memory flickered of she and Edward no more than toddlers. Her grandmother would play that game with them often.  Freeze tag with magic.  The woman’s holy blessing may have suffered with the kingdom’s  fall, her mental talents had not. They were early lessons for children young enough to play with these gifts and not question their existence.  “Who are you and why are you in my home and how the devil did you get past my wards?”  The rapid fire of questions came as reason resumed and the tides of memory receded.  With numb, frightened fingers,  she dropped the club.

The woman burst into laughter at her questions.  “Before we address that, let’s get you warmed up.  I never knew the east was so blasted cold. I promise I will be no threat to your existence.  I picked the location from my brother’s mind.”  Marc would have a conniption were her of a mind to look for her.  They had not quite mended fences yet but that was on the horizon.  Until then,  Alexandra looked to seek out this little beacon in the east that was nagging at the back of his mind.

Emma just stared in utter shock at the woman who had so ruthlessly invaded her home and now sought to comfort her.  The patient inspection on the woman’s features brought another curse  to Emma’s lips.  Clearly the woman was not going until she had her say and clearly she was strong enough to get around any wards or protections she may have put in place.   The woman was not leaving until she had her say, either, Emma noted.  Behind that patient, pert look was a woman given to Fate.  Sorceress.  Her mind whispered.  The woman took no trouble to hide what she was and that frightened Emma even more.  If she could sense this, what could her brother see from the south?

Panic nagged her.  That was when the woman linked her arm through Emma’s own and murmured.  “I reinforced your wards.  No one will find you here if you do not allow it. Your skills are amazing.”  The compliment meant to ease the woman, Alexandra noted, seemed to infuriate her that much more.

“Look, I have no light-damned idea who you are, why you are in my home and clearly you’re not leaving until you’ve given me your reasons for being here.   I only wish to be left alone, nothing more, nothing less.”   Emma spat as she jerked away from the companionable arm.  The warm comfort of this woman would damned well make her crumble and that was the last thing in this world Emma Jacobs wanted.

“None of us wanted this.  Fate had other designs.”  The words were so gentle that Emma shook and tears welled.  “You can continue alone if you wish but you do not have to.  That choice Fate has not taken from you. The rest…” The woman spread her hands and gave a casual shrug.  “The rest if out of our hands.”

Exhaustion, fear, and a host of other troubles surfaced as she looked into those patient eyes.  What was ahead frightened her and suddenly, she could not remember when she had eaten last.  With that last thought, darkness took her. She did not hear Alexandra’s muttered oath or feel the thud of her body hitting the floor.

Storms

Inspired by:   Hallelujah – Lindsey Stirling

Current Reading:  Stephen King’s-It  (One of my favorite books,  read it for the first time when I was 16. Readers, what was your first favorite, best loved adult read?)

So forgive the radio silence for the last little while, everyone.  Life showed up and took a big old chunk out of yours truly.  My daughter has hit a major change in her health.  Not world ending, or life threatening but a new normal is how I am going to choose to put it.   So, that has taken me off the creative grid for a while, put revisions on hold,  and basically leaving me with the dire need to write or go nuts.  So here we are.

I am not going into details because well, that’s just not how I manage life. The people that need to know do.  So I have been thinking lately and came across a photo writing prompt that got the gears turning.  At this time, the photo cannot be included in this blog due to copyright and I don’t feel like tracking down the photographer to get permission to use it.   At any rate the gears got going because a the image was of a winding path and a tree set back from the road. Overhead was a beautiful storm cloud either rolling in or rolling out.  It felt like either the calm right before or the calm right after the storm. I feel like I am in the calm after and things are starting to still.  To quote Alexandra, “Light knows I’ve been wrong before.” We’ll see where the path leads.  Some times, it just comes down to weathering the storm.

So the image and the song got me going but before I get to the more creative endeavors,  I have a small announcement to make.  On April 29th,  our friends at Gathering Volumes will be hosting a massive event for Independent Book Store Day celebration featuring a whole slew of local authors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I will be on hand with my handsome assistant (read: husband) signing and selling books.  There will also be a gift basket available for a drawing. The latter I’m still putting together. When I figure out what is in said gift basket, I will let you all know.   Also, cupcakes.  Because well,  cupcakes are awesome.

At any rate,  if you’re in the Ohio/Michigan area and fancy a road trip,  go check out the Facebook event.  That will list times and what other events will be on hand. It promises to be a fantastic time.

With that being said,  I know some of you are probably waiting on the next installment with Alex and Marc.  It’s coming. I have a character that is demanding to be developed.  But not tonight because well this little writer feels bedtime calling. To you faithful readers,  leave me a little comment below of what you think about the story arc if you’re following along.  Take care!

Interrupted life again..

Current listening:  A Poem for Byzantium –  Delerium

Current Reading:   Wizard and Glass – Stephen King (audiobook)  and The Lady of Rivers –  Philippa Gregory

So for no particular reason,   the song listed above popped on the radio today and I got stuck in my head for lack of a better word.  For those aware,  it’s been kind of a rough week and a half for our family.  I will not get too much into the logistics but we got thrown a rather strange curve ball that seems to be straightening itself out.  With that in mind, I have been creatively stuck due to stress from my 9-5, and my personal struggles. This song always makes me think about the people we miss and the people we have lost. (For the curious, no, no one has died,  this writer is just feeling mildly morose tonight while her creative wheels get unstuck.)

This one might be a bit off the beaten path but hey, here goes.

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Sunset lit the sea on fire.   The thought should not have surprised her.   Her life was often a fire at one point or another.  At the moment,  the fire seemed to have reached massive proportions.  In fact, she was amazed most of them could find a civil word for her.    Night would be upon them soon, she knew.   More than the darkness lay ahead and the thought troubled her.  What troubled her more was the gaping chasm between her heart and that of a much beloved sibling.

“I did not expect you. Your sister yes, but not you.”  A wan smile curled Alexandra Jade’s  lips.  This evening she was hardly dressed for her station.  One of Nicholas’ cast-offs framed her upper body and a loose pair of pants covered her lower half.   Her platinum hair tumbled in carless waves down her back.    Christiana had not requested that she return to her usual duties.  In fact the Queen had been quite circumspect as of late.   This little Sorceress suspected that distance to maintain the illusion of outrage the royal family must exhibit in the wake of her actions.

“Usually you are not one to stay your hand when a task needs doing.”  Sion Jade settled into the sand next to her.    “Usually of all of them, you are the first to follow Fate’s path to the end. What stays your hand this time, cousin-mine?”   The words were gentler than most many had ever heard the man speak.   In fact,  Alexandra knew herself  Sion reserved that level of gentleness for his twin and no other.  “I drew the shorter stick.  She said I’d get farther with you than I would with Marc.”   He explained and slung an arm around her without waiting for her consent then laughed when she stiffened.

A moment later, Alexandra noticed he wore gloves and went out of his way to prevent contact with her.  The thought brought a soft chuckle to her throat.  “ I do believe I have destroyed quite enough lives as of late.  I saw Lily Eisen when she returned from the manor. “    For once, Alexandra flushed to the roots of her hair.  Lily’s words on her return had not been pleasant or kind.  Clearly the woman held her responsible for her brother’s departure from the capital.

“And when has the opinion of others bothered you,  dear  Sorceress?”  Sy said with a  quick grin that had her glaring at him.    “I am not wrong and you know in your heart I am not.  You are just feeling guilty.”    He could sense what was on the tip of her tongue and he would draw blood if needed. In that he was not quite as kind as his sister.  Tati said she would likely be too gentle on Alexandra and sent him in her stead.  “Our Queen summoned us both, in fact.  She wanted to see the rift between you two righted. Her majesty has tasked us with reuniting you two, do you find yourself up to the task?” If Alexandra’s element was water, Sy suspected, he would be soaking wet.  Her scow was dark and temper flared in her sea shaded eyes.

“I am never not up for the task, Sion Jade, well you remember that.”  Alexandra shot back.  In truth she was annoyed with both herself and the matter at hand.    Her brother was moping and trying to protect them all in the only way he knew how—by extricating himself from the situation so he could think.   “What makes you so certain my brother is ready to talk?” Sion’s smirk had her chuckling.  “I see. Tati went to see him, did she not?”  When he nodded, Alexandra figured out the rest of Christiana’s order.  “I suppose I should not be surprised.”

“No, of all people you should not be surprised.”  Sion responded and stood.  “I expect you’ll be departing for the manor soon.”  At Alexandra’s nod,  a small grin curled his features.  “Not like that, I assume.”  He gestured to her attire.   For all his battle experience, he could not have predicted her response.   In a mix of telekinetic and physical skill, Alexandra snatched his ankle and pulled his feet from beneath him.   The retaliation sent him sputtering into the sea.

As he sputtered, Alexandra got to her feet and dusted the sand from her well-worn pants.  “I will depart for the manor and my brother’s company with the dawn.  Let Christi know her request will be fulfilled soon.”  And, with that, Alexandra left the beach.  Marc had enough time to cool off and, she hoped, they could discuss their problem with calm but she suspected that would not be the case. She and her brother often settled their arguments over blade point.  This would likely be no different.

Better late than never

Current Listening:  Rains of Catamere – Break of Reality

Current Reading: (As far as I’m concerned, audiobooks count)  Dark Tower III:  The Waste Lands – Stephen King

So I’m a slacker, I admit it.  Life shows up,  book 5 revisions show up and this tends to go by the wayside.  This first part of the year has been absolutely insane. Usually things settle down about late February but this year that just has not been the case.   So far, early 2017 has been running from one fire to the next.  At least, that’s how it feels.

At any rate,  for those that don’t know,  I have developed an avid interest in tabletop gaming.  This started with my first D&D campaign last year at GenCon and has evolved into an every other Saturday online event.  Well,  for those unfamiliar  with the genre, tabletop role play is basically a storyteller’s dream if you like to game.  You create a character within a specific world and act within that world to build a story. This story can include combat and just about any scenario you can think of.    The only real limit is the games mechanics and your imagination.

Lately, my Saturday adventures have been within the world of Deadlands.  This game is a western type sci-fi and it challenged me in terms of my storytelling and character development because it’s just a smidge outside my normal comfort level.  So I’m sharing the character I created for this world and her…introspection I guess.  I hope you enjoy.

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The doctor had come and gone.  The morning, from what she could see, was clear and bright.  Doctor Palmer,  who had some sort of history with her charge, said she would be at least another week abed before she could expect any reasonable return to normalcy.  Her bloodstained shirt and pants were long gone in favor of a loose shirt and pants that he could maneuver around her bandages with ease.  What the doctor and her compatriots had seen during the course of his examination, Deandra gave little thought to.  The time for southern modesty had long since passed.

Richard Speakman, for all his gruff sternness,  had been a godsend.  He saw to not only her needs but Kara’s and Rodrigo’s as well.  Deandra suspected that there was a further motive to the man but she was in no position to investigate.  As it stood now,  Deandra owed him and one Sioux her life.  In truth, she owed them all her life.  After all, she knew quite well what it was to be left behind.  Her lips thinned to a line. She had more or less been on her own since she was a teenager.

The first week had been a haze of drifting consciousness and pain.  The only thing she really remembered clearly was that both Kara and Rodrigo had not left her.  Kara might as well been stapled to her bedside while her own wounds healed.   Everyone had taken a beating to get away from the Dusky Jewel. They lost Simon McCoy in the retreat too.

When she began to mend, she asked Speakman if he could procure a leather bound notebook and pen for her. Her own had been lost when the stagecoach up-ended the very first day she met Rodrigo and Kara.  The man had complied with a smile.  That smile had its own secrets but for now she would take what help she could get.  Perhaps Kara’s distrust of people was rubbing off on her.

As of late most of her writing had been lent to case reports but often she used such endeavors to clear her head.  Right now, matters were puzzling and her head was a mess of emotions that needed an outlet.  With that in mind,  Deandra pushed herself into a careful sitting position.  If she moved quietly enough,  she might avoid waking a still-slumbering Kara.  At least, she could hope.  Her dark hair was carefully plaited down her back. She did not ask who responsible for the messy plait as she was in no condition to do so herself without pulling at the doctor’s careful stitches.

She put a pen to paper.  At times like this she missed her parents. Her father would have been both amazed and saddened at what the world had become. The concept of ghost rock and technological advancements would have astounded him but distinct lack of safety in the west would have dismayed him to say the least.   In his memory, she did what she could to keep the innocent safe.

Dear Mama and Papa,

Missing you today hurts anew but I have found I am not alone anymore…

She tapped her pen on the page with a thoughtful smile before she continued.   Deandra documented their journey and the success they had at discovering the Dusky Jewel.  From what she had heard as she drifted in and out of sleep,  Rodrigo had told Speakman who then informed the authorities of the camp’s existence.  Her thoughts flickered back to Agent McCoy as she considered his sacrifice.

I still don’t know if I could have saved him but it came down to a choice between Simon McCoy and my friend.  My friend…I haven’t used those words since I was a girl.  I don’t regret the choice in the least but the child in me wishes I could have saved them both.  Speakman says he sees no reason this success should not usher me into a full Agency position but, my god, at what cost?

Writing her parents often eased not only the ache of losing them but the loneliness that came from a girl displaced from her home.  Her aunt and uncle, though very kind, served to educate her and put a roof over her head but, they were not parents. She had school acquaintances but she would never have suspected a single one of them cared enough to throw her unconscious, bloody, body on a horse and try to stabilize her in order to assure her survival.

At times, her aunt and uncle had no idea what to do with her. She suspected that they breathed a sigh of relief when she entered the Agency and headed west. New York was not home.  Hell, from what she heard she suspected that the south might not be home anymore. Where did that leave her?   A smile curled her lips as she thought about her assignment,  which Speakman assured her,  would remain part of her objective whether she was promoted or not.

The Mexican Blade is as deadly as his nickname but he ruffles people’s feathers over the mildest thing.  He is outspoken and usually drunk but he means well.  He went for the doctor that saved my life, from what Kara told me.  Speakman also indicated he threatened to shoot the doctor if he did not come immediately.  So,  I suppose the cat is out of the bag about my affiliations but I do not believe he realizes my exact purpose here.  Watch him, they said. Keep him alive, they said.  They did not really indicate why but orders are orders.  Why my superiors would want such a notorious outlaw kept alive is beyond me.

Deandra paused again to reflect on those orders and the impact they had on her life. Duty was duty, she decided as she glanced over at Kara.  She suspected that her friend was just giving her the illusion of sleep to give her the perception of privacy. Kara was sometimes good like that.  If she wanted to know,  Deandra would tell her what was on her mind.  Yes, duty was duty but friendship was another monster entirely.

 

Every path I make, every road leads back

Current listening:  How Far I’ll Go – Auli’i Cravallho

Current Reading: The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillipa Gregory

So, long time no write. Things have been busy here in life.  Work is crazy. Home life is crazy and I’m just squeaking in time to do revisions.  Still no breathing room save for an occasional snippet here and there.

So the song above got me thinking about a particular character and a thread I want to follow.  This picks up with Tanya after she’s spoken with Christi.  Check out the post before last if you would like to catch up.

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Light above, how did she end up babysitting her cousin in such affairs? Tatiyana though with a scowl.   Christiana summoned her to the capital from her home in the North to such an end.  She too had felt the force of Alexandra’s arrival.   In truth, the Queen indicate the twins might be the only people capable of either talking to or beating sense into either one of them.   Sion and Tanya agreed to a plan of attack and executed it with a frightful fluency.  That plan of attack started here at Jade Manor where Marc was more or less licking his wounds.

“Up cousin.“   Tanya growled and jerked the coverlet from her still sleeping cousin.  Her life with Dominic had her awake at odd hours.  At the moment the night was well underway and rain battered the house.   The rain reflected her annoyance at this particular task. Once, years ago,  she sought to correct Marc’s behavior.  The beating she had given him then should have been enough.   She scowled. “Get up or I drag you up,  Marcus.  I do not care.  You are going back to the capital if I have to drag you unconscious. You’ve hurt enough people with your behavior.”

He felt her presence and her magic just before entered his chambers.  Her magic tested the Manor’s wards.  When she jerked the covers away,  he  muttered an oath dark enough to blister the most desensitized ears.  She could not have known he slept sans clothing.  Tanya had been in multiple camps with soldiers.  His comment did not offend her.  “Hurt enough people, you say?” Marc muttered and sat up.  He shot Tanya a dark look. “Did anyone bother to take stock of the hurts deal to me in the entire affair?  Or did no one bother to fill you in about why I left?”   His arrogance hid a wealth of hurt and anger at the current state of affairs.  Light damn it, he missed Lily but he could not risk her for the sake of his sister’s secrets.

“We all have our roles to play, Marcus.  You know that.  Fate does what she will. You know that too.”  Tanya murmured and sat on the edge of the bed.  She failed to notice her cousins state of dishabille and spoke on gentle tones that he was unaccustomed to.   “You both are much like your element.  So much potential to destroy and yet containing the warmth to encourage life.  Perhaps the understanding comes more easily to me because I am fluid like mine.  Go home Marc.  Your sister misses you.  Lily’s pissed as hell at you and Ariana is looking for your help to ease her heartbreak.  Would you choose to nurse your own wounds in favor of leaving theirs to fester?”

Her question brought a scowl to his lips but before he could respond, she continued.  “What is here for you but the lonely halls of hurt and regret?  What is here for you but your anger and an empty home?”  Tanya finally looked at him and flushed to the roots of her hair.   How could she have not noticed his lack of clothing!  “Forgive me. I will be downstairs once you’re dressed, Marcus.”   Her quick, embarrassed exit from the chamber was followed by a warm wave of his laughter.

A few minutes ticked by as Tanya willed her cheeks to cool.   Soon enough Marcus joined her downstairs.  Without a word he said nothing and pulled her into a tight embrace.  “Thank you for not skewering me on sight, cousin.  You’re the calmest presence I’ve had in this house in days. I apologize for your embarrassment.”   He felt Tanya bristle at the contact and thank the Light again that she had not drawn Hope in response.   Marc set her back with a gentle smile.  “I know you mean well and you’re right,  I have some wounds to heal and forgiveness to seek but this is a two-fold problem.  Christi sent for you did she not?”

When she nodded he guided her to the couch and sat down,  indicating that she should join him.  When she sat he willed the fire to  life before them.   “I cannot deny our Queen’s direct order.  That is flirting with treason and I am not that but I refuse to go back before I repair this rift with my sister.  Lily will take time. I know that.”  Marc explained. When he first arrived here weeks ago,  he  was so angry he could not see straight.  He was still angry.  This was uncommon in him.  Like his element, his temper usually burned out fast and forgiveness came just as easily.

Tanya chuckled.  “I somehow thought you would fight harder, dear boy.”   His laughter perked a brow in her.   “But I see you are not the man you were years ago.  You know Fate does what she will and your sister did what she felt was best.   Not right but best to maintain the illusion  and fool our adversaries into a sense of security.   She needed you to believe.”

As she spoke, Marc nodded.  “Perhaps.  That is a matter I will discuss with her in due time.  Do you intend to stay the night?  I would be delighted to have you at least until tomorrow night so you can return to your home well rested and reputation for kicking my ass intact.”   Tanya agreed with a laugh and the pair spent the night talking.   Just after dawn,  Marc put Tanya to bed in the guest room and meandered back to his own chambers. They agreed that her twin would send Alexandra to him once his end of their mission was complete.

Quotes and thoughts

Current Listening:  Spectrum of Sky – Break of Reality

Current Reading:  The Constant Princess – Philippa Gregory  (Great read if you love historical fiction)

So my favorite hostess got me thinking with this week’s prompt.  I had to think about this one and put it in some kind of context of the insanity we are smack dab in the middle of today.   For those of you that consider what is happening today in our country a “return to normalcy”,  you’re part of the problem.   There is nothing normal about what is happening in our country today.  Blame people, blame the opposition, blame politics, blame whatever suits our little fancy but calling it “normal’ is like trying to convince a fussy toddler to take a nap.  Good luck with that.

Moving on,  this week our hostess gave us the following quote:

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl

So  I had to think about this one a bit to decide what I wanted to say.  I could go the easy route.  I mean, hell, I write fantasy so that isn’t too much of a stretch, right? Today, in light of the current state of affairs,  I decided to go off the rails.  If you don’t care to read anything more about the political/social climate in this nation, stop reading here.  If you want to know this writer’s thoughts on the matter, keep going.   Is there magic left in the world or are we all to jaded to appreciate the simple beauty of living?    If you do see magic in the world still,  where do you see it?  Humor me in the comments if you do.    I see it in the laughter of good companionship.   I see magic in a child’s laughter.  I see magic in music that goes for the gut.  I see magic in the power that words have to challenge our way of thinking.

Challenge is a hell of a word right now.  From a political standpoint,  we have a hell of a challenge before us.  To the people that are stating “let it go, he won”,  enough already.   This country is built on the freedom to speak up when we disagree.  Civil discourse and debate are woven into the fabric of our nation.  This has nothing to do with anyone being liberal or a sore loser.  This has to do with people standing for what they believe is right and guarding what they believe their personal ideologies are.   People standing for a right that people have lived, bled and died for.  I do not mean our soldiers though I have the utmost respect and love for them because of the decisions they are faced with.  Many things they are required to do by their very nature I cannot fathom.  I mean people who have protested, marched and given their lives to see what is wrong with our country righted.

I am a middle aged woman and I have seen my share of justice and injustice in the world.  I have criticized and been criticized like most of us have.  I have debated and argued and left things at agree to disagree.   If you want to see what true non-violent civil discourse looks like,  go look up some of the news footage from the civil rights movement.   (Check out CNN’s special on the 60s.  There’s an entire episode dedicated to the civil rights movement with news footage and interviews with many civil rights activists at the time. People who stood up for this came from all walks of life. I personally learned a great deal from it. If anyone has any other great references on the topic, drop me a line. I’m listening.)

For those of you that think these problems do not exist today,  you have your head buried in the sands of complacency. The problems never went away.  Ask an African American.   Ask a beautiful woman what happens when she walks down the street.  Or any woman when she talks to a mechanic for that matter.  (Personal experience on that.)  People have a right to protest what they disagree with.   People have a right to that civil discourse on either side of the aisle.  This is how change happens in our nation regardless of what you believe or think,  whether you are liberal or conservative.   The labels do not matter.   To believe otherwise is to betray the foundation of our nation.   If you want change, get involved in your local communities.  Stay informed.  Ignorance of the problem will not give anyone a resolution.

That, my friends, is the magic of our country.  Other countries would kill to have our freedoms.  People have traveled from all over the world to live here.  Speak up. Make a difference.  The words “I do not agree” are not offensive.  The words “I stand for (insert issue here)”  are not offensive.  Do not be afraid to use them. If you think about it,  those same sentiments birthed our nation.

I think I am going to leave you with a quote from a man that has always impacted me in his words and thoughts about our nation and where we need to go as a people. The first quote is often shortened but the entire quote seems more relevant today than any words I can personally think of.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   (1963)

One more…

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, 1964

What do you guys think?  Inbox is open, comments are open.  Track me down on Twitter if you want,  I’m always up for a lively discussion.  Attackers though,  will be deleted or ignored so keep it civil gang.

 

 

And we’re back…

Inspired by:   Master of Tides – Lindsey Stirling

Brought to you by:  The Figment

Hello friends!

So tonight I have a few things to post about.   For newcomers to the blog, welcome.  For old hands,  I hope the world is well with you.   For my writer friends I have an interesting proposition that has come to my attention.   I’ve blogged before about the magazine Holl & Lane.  I still cannot say enough good things about these  amazing people and what they do.  They are hosting a writing competition called  the Heart & Soul Book Awards.  Check it out here.    I know I will be participating.  Keep an eye on the time if you want to do it! The deadline is June 15.

I am getting started on edits for  Shadow’s Journey.  Prologue and Chapter 1 are done but need keyed.  January is such a crazy month for me. My full time makes for lots of overtime and business need. So the job that pays the bills takes priority for now.   And,  in two  and a half weeks is my five year wedding anniversary.  Ten years together, married for five is astounding to me.   So suffice to say the early part of the year is busy for reasons not related to writing.

February 1 is also right around the corner which means…you guessed it. The February edition of the Maeseloria Monthly!  For those readers that have been keeping up, I have added a new feature titled 3 Questions.  I will take submissions for this feature as well as Sandra’s Corner.  Your questions and character may appear in the next issue or subsequent issues of the newsletter.  You can contact me with questions or submissions at sjhults@bex.net  .  I look forward to hearing from you!

With that being said, I want to announce the return of The Figment and the weekly writing prompt.  This week’s prompt is Lindsey Stirling’s Master of Tides. Check it out in the link above and please, enjoy the little snippet below.

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She hated the rain.  Lily  Eisen scowled as she moved through the night in search of some sort of peace.  Life as of late was not easy nor fair.  She was struggling.  Her left hand was bare again and,  once again, Fate dealt her a losing hand.  The irritation that flashed in her emerald eyes was far from minor.   She promised Isabelle she would return with the dawn but even now she felt her promise flounder.   Travel in the North during their rainy season was a challenge to say the least.    The damp made her method of travel difficult.  Limbs and rain soaked earth would cause lesser trackers to slide or reveal their position but she trained in all weather.  Her favorite Shadow had seen to it.  He helped her survive the night.  For a short time, she felt the warmth of Light and love.  Now, she wondered if that brief stretch was simply a fallacy.

Challenges rose and love failed her.  Lily shook the thought away and focused on her mission.   Christiana sent her with specific instructions.   Find holes in their defense.  She was nearing the edge of their stronghold.   The Queen had equipped her with enough gems to hide her mental presence from the adepts around her.    This was now her duty to maintain her physical silence.   Her eyes skimmed the shadows as she moved closer to the castle.  The gardens  spread across her line of sight.   The Queen specifically mentioned this area as a weak point.

The pin-prick of a blade at her shoulder set her cursing and her opponent laughing.  The feminine warmth behind the tones told her who her captor was.  “I will do you the courtesy of assuming you are not here to do harm, dear girl.”   Tatiyana Jade spoke and nudged her  forward into the gardens.  She, Dominic and Sion had addressed the security issues within their portion of the realm after the war ended.   When they stepped into the gardens, she sheathed Hope then chuckled.  “No movement gave you away. Your humanity did.”   At Lily’s puzzled look the little warrior explained.  “When one has a Kindred in residence it usually tends to help locate people new to our little corner of the world.”

Lily shook her head.   “I see. Then I cannot be faulted.” She shot back cheekily as she sheathed her own weapons.  “I come with a message.  You and your brother’s presence is required at the capital.  Her majesty needs your help with your cousins.”   At Tanya’s puzzled expression Lily simply shrugged.  “Your guess is as good as mine, my Lady. I am only the messenger. “

“Very well then.  Let us see to what the Queen requires of us.”   Without further word, Tatiyana proceeded to the sprawling house that seemed to loom before them.  A slack-jawed Lily watched as Sion Jade ambled from the shadows with that same irritating mix of elegance and arrogance that all Jade men seemed to wield.   “Even in times of peace, I am rarely without some level of protection.”  Tanya’s tones were absent and sarcastic as Sion just laughed.  “Go see  to a room and a warm fire, brother mine.  Do so before I make you eat your arrogance again.”

“You are quite welcome to try again, sister.”  He teased her and ducked her incoming wallop with such a speedy accuracy that Lily was dumbfounded.  “I will see to our guest as you’ve requested. “  The grin that tugged at the corners of Sion Jade’s mouth was far from what was often seen when he and his sister were in residence at the palace.

At Lily’s surprise,  Tanya just smiled.  “You’ve never seen my cousins spar?”   When Lily shook her head,  the tiny woman steered her through the garden and into their home so she could dry off.   “I suspect that is what summons you have come to deliver. The whole realm felt that level of magic.  She seeks to draw our adversary.”  Lily’s expression confirmed Tanya’s suspicion and when the woman handed over a message sealed with the Queen’s emblem,   the tiny Sorceress did not seem surprised.   “He never was one to take duty well when such matters impact him personally.  Walked out on everyone did he?” Lily did not give a verbal response but merely held up her bare left hand.   “I see.  Very well. Return home at dawn if it pleases you. Sion and I will see to them as the Queen as requested. “

More to come soon!

Destiny

Brought to you by: The Figment

No music in the cards today gang. Also, no current reading.  This came to me during a class I was taking. This week’s figment prompt was one word: destiny.  What do you view as your destiny? Are we bound by fate or God or just extraordinary circumstance?

Just a random idea that might develop. Then again, it might not.  The blog will be on hiatus until after the first of the year so I can enjoy the holiday season with my family. I encourage you all to the same.  Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays if you do not celebrate Christmas.  Take care everyone.   Here goes. Enjoy!

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Frost glittered across the window pane. Emma Jacobs muttered a soft curse and blew on her numb fingertips.  She rubbed her hands together to warm them before she tossed another log on the fire.  Here on the outer edges of the realm, far to the northwest, she could hide from her heritage and from the other royals.  More importantly, she could hide from her twin.

Edward was on a path she knew she could not and would not follow.  The Light called her as sure as the dawn.  She wanted her books; her quiet; her writing.   Emma wanted no part in the horrors of war or the civil unrest that plagued the kingdom at large. Even here, she heard the debate about Christiana Morningstar’s right to the throne.

Propaganda slandering their Queen was spread far and wide.  In spite of the Queen’s retrieval of a holy weapon, people still questions.  As of late, rumors ran rampant that she arranged her twin’s demise and that of the late Lady Jade in order to secure her throne.

This situation brewed tyrants.  Kings and Queens of the past silenced these rumors with executions.  The Queen’s own grandfather resolved unrest in this manner.   In other ages, acts like these were the seeds of bloody revolution.  The thought troubled her but in the same vein the trouble was not hers.  In recent months, she had enough of her own.

Emma’s self-imposed exile was her doing. She would not allow Edward’s darkness to taint her. Her dreams were frightful things as of late.  Light and shadow haunted her.  The winds of change blew through her dreams like a hurricane and she did not understand why.   Her vibrant hazel eyes skimmed the room around her.  The sight of this library comforted her in a manner that few things could.   Books were constant and steady. People were not.

Her grandmother erected this home when her generation was exiled.  At the time of exile, Sarina Starson could barely summon enough holy to heal a paper cut.   Emma had only fleeting memories of her grandmother.  She may not have been able to summon but, Fate above could that woman teach.  Grandmother taught her mother and passed on the Starson lineage to herself and Edward.  How her brother twisted those teachings.  Her lips thinned to a line.  Or he allowed his employer to twist them.  She could not be certain.

She too had heard whispers of the realm’s grand cleric.  Tessa Starson would have been her cousin had the woman even been aware they existed. The two had never met and Emma made certain never to draw enough power to entertain such an existence.  She wanted to be left in peace, nothing more.

Emma knew from her last encounter with her brother that she could not allow him to find her.  Edward would use her. Her blood was powerful enough to pursue his descent into madness.  She was no fool.  Their grandmother had spoken of the books of holy and shadow.  If Edward had what she suspected he did…what her senses told her he did when she opened the door between them, she needed to maintain utter secrecy.  “Where you go, I cannot follow.” She remembered her last words to him.  Emma could feel the darkness pulsing in the South as surely as she could feel the light pulsing in the North when she opened her senses.

With absent violence, she grabbed the poker and tried to stir the fire with a dark look.  Her hair was a richer red than what her cousin’s was rumored to be.  Her hazel eyes flashed gold a moment as power mixed with her frustration.   A knock at the door startled her.  The hour was quite late.  Moonlight had long since chased the sun away.  Snowfall littered the ground.  The white lent an innocence to the world she struggled to acknowledge.  Who the devil would be calling on her at this hour?

“Damned inconvenience.”  Emma growled. Her voice was a rich, warm honey that even in annoyance could be considered endearing.  She tightened the sash on her robe and moved to answer the door.  What stood before her was a man covered in snow.  The figure stood a shade taller than her five foot eight frame.  His ash-blonde hair was dotted with snowflakes while his green eyes sparkled with a mix of boyish humor and curiosity.  “Please forgive the intrusion; I saw a light in the dark.”

Emma flushed to the roots of her hair. The cherry in her cheeks matched the richness of the waves framing her delicate features.  Her snow covered guest skimmed her over with a practiced eye.  Without a word, she stepped aside to grant him entrance.  She could have turned him away but there was no shelter beyond her home for miles.

With a grateful smile, he stepped into the house.  Since his sister’s disappearance, he kept his senses open for the slightest hint of her presence.  The experience was both painful and humbling. Anytime he reached inward for a place she should have been, he found an emptiness he could not describe.  At each sunrise he looked for her presence in hope that some slip on her part would lead him to her. Six months of searching led to this house.  What was going on in the capital or with state affairs he could not be certain.   Finding his sister was paramount to both his continued existence and the realm’s survival.

His senses identified that flare of skill with his cousin more than his sister.   Tessa would have skimmed this girl over and determined her origins in a heartbeat.  With a minute flex of his will, he stirred the hearth to life.  As he did this, he watched the young lady’s face.  The subtle flicker and widening of her eyes almost made him laugh.  “Jason Burke.”  He introduced himself. Marc knew quite well his name would send this woman running like a frightened hare. He also found this level of secrecy necessary to continue his search.

Why was this girl going to such great lengths to hide what she was?  Marc could tell she was formidable by the wards on her lands and within her head.   This was quite a puzzle.  Marc proceeded towards what was now a roaring hearth.  The blank spot in his head where Alex should be was a severe distraction and put him at a sorry disadvantage when dealing with other magic users.  His presence and ability felt muted.  The thought made him wonder if she knew what was ahead when she blocked him the first time he sparred with Lily.

“Emma Jacobs.”  The girl responded then scowled as the fire flared again. Was he goading her?  The man was dangerous.  She felt him tug the fire to life. The pull was no stronger than a mild breeze. His actions were deliberate. Even with her walls up, she sensed that tug. His finesse was impressive.  In response, her defenses were on full alert.  This man was no mundane.  He was leaving his power out like a trail for her to follow to find his true identity.  Emma decided she was not playing that game.

Marc felt her panic rise as if she were at the other end of a hallway and chuckled. Truly he hated this.   “As it stands, I will not press you about your identity provided you do not press me about mine. I have a hunch we will revisit this discussion another time.”  His tone was intended to ease her.  “And since we have dispensed with the pleasantries of a sort.”  Marc loosened his grip on his skills a little and poured the energy into the hearth. Soon enough the blaze was enough to dry him.  

Fate above he missed Lily, he thought.  He had to make her promise now to shadow him.  Even then, he could not be certain she kept that vow.  If his Lily did not want to be found, she would not be.  Her engagement ring allowed her to hide from his senses.  He drew his attention back to the woman that now sat across from him. “Have you sensed anyone like me or has anyone tried to test your wards?”   His tone remained conversational as he warmed his hands.

Emma watched this casual use of talent in utter shock. He was going to get her caught!  If his last name was Burke, she would eat the Starson crest she kept buried in her jewel case.   “No. No one has. I would appreciate you not displaying such talents in my home.”  

To be continued…

Radio silence and other news

Inspired by:  Promises to Keep – Trans Siberian Orchestra ;   Where Are You Christmas? – Faith Hill

Current Reading:  Taking Suggestions

So, please forgive me for the hiatus.  For those of you that are unware,  November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short),  and the goal of this free program is to inspire writers to produce a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.  I participated in this event for the first time last year and was quite pleased with the result.  The rough story for Light’s Guide was written in 22 days. The revisions took longer than normal but to me, the work produced a better story.

So,  I met this goal on November 23,  2016 but,  this year the story was not told.  I wanted to go out in style this month.  So,  I finished the book 5 manuscript on the 27th.   Maeseloria: Shadow’s Journey is ready for revisions–at 55,000 words.  With that being said,  I decided it was time to pull my head out of the shadows and say hello.

My November was a busy month.   I had my first author event ever and my first book signing.  Both events were an amazing experience and my warmest thank you to anyone who stopped out to purchase a book or just for a chat.   And to the lovely person who brought me coffee at my book signing,  you are a goddess.    Lastly,  a sincere thank you to Denise at Gathering Volumes for being such a huge support and allowing me to have my signing in your shop.  To my fellow bloggers and authors,  if you have an indy book shop in your area–support them.  Shop in their store.  They will be your biggest advocate.

The events were nerve wracking but I learned a lot.  I managed to learn how to talk to people about my book without stammering and blushing.  There’s room for improvement but I learned.   I also realized how many dear friends came out to see me–one of whom I had not seen in a number of years.   Here are some pictures from both events:

 

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I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday and are looking as forward to Christmas as I am.  Christmas is my holiday at our house.   The good will of the season is a huge deal to me.  I try to do right by people at all times—even when I have been wronged by them—but at Christmas time it always seems that much more important.    I had that kind of wonder as a child and I do not know if I have ever really let it go.  There’s something magical about the season to me. What is your favorite part about the Christmas holiday? Or are you a Grinch?

The two songs listed above kind of emphasize that wonder for me.  I love TSO in general but Christmas Eve and Other Stories has to be my favorite album of theirs.    Promises to Keep highlights that childlike wonder that,  for me, comes with the season. .  The second song I heard at a time in my  life when I was struggling,  or maybe transitioning might be a better word.  I was looking for me and, for that reason,  the song will always remain special to me.  It struck a nerve.    So,  with that being said,  I have a gift for you.  A short synopsis from Maeseloria:  Shadows Journey:

Peace in service to the Light…

Peace was an illusion, Jaylor Vincenzo thought.    In his line of work,  peace was harder to maintain than war.   With the wars end, the political structure of Maeseloria was tenuous at best.  Factions birthed in the South would be problematic.  Could he protect them all?   He served his Queen as her shadow, her brother and her friend.  The fate of the realm was often decided at dagger point and his hand.   Was this all Fate would ever require him to be?

Where was his peace?

He stood between Light and Shadow.   His duty was eternal. Would he ever have more?

 For those  subscribed to the Maeseloria Monthly,  the newsletter will be back January 1, 2017.  I look forward to sharing more of  The Guardian’s Fall.    Until then, stay tuned readers.  The Figment weekly writing prompts will return this Thursday.   Let’s see what our hostess can throw at us, shall we?

Take care guys,  stay out of trouble.

 

 

 

Nerves and Nanowrimo

Current listening:  Lost Stars – Adam Levine 

Brought to you by: The Figment

So, the first week of Nanowrimo is nearly over  and it’s super exciting to me.  I have a few new characters I’m introducing  in this book and new storylines and intrigues and just…fun.   I will do my best to keep going on the blog but I make no promises.  I have super tunnel vision when I’m working on a new book—especially during this time of the year.  I’m 16000 words into Shadow’s Journey and I don’t show any signs of slowing down.    If you want to make sure I’m still breathing, stalk me on Twitter and Facebook.

This week’s prompt is the song listed above.  It’s funny the things you learn from experience.  To me this song is about youth and trying to find your place in the world.  Everyone, I think, deserves a learning curve.  God knows I needed one.  I’m happy where I am and have been for almost a decade now.  I  keep pushing and working at this dream of mine.  The dream is to be published.  I got that back in 2012.  Then I met Becky Robinson and the amazing folks at Hometown Reads and that’s challenged me to be better.  I learned to market a little and approach my work from an avenue other than “the girl who tells stories”.

Next Sunday I have my first event as an author.  First…ever.    I have to figure out how to be comfortable in front of people and talking about my work.  I’ll work it out.  I’m too stubborn not to.  Also,  I have a huge aversion to sounding like an ass in front of people who have just met me.  I never realized until this week exactly how much goes into putting an event together.  I’m sitting here planning table layout,  to do lists,  creating email sign-up sheets,  fixing newsletter sheets so I can have something interesting for people to take home.  The good news is I’m just about settled on the planning.

I am trying so hard not to spaz about it.  I can’t even begin to explain but I will say this.  This is where I wanted to be,  what I wanted to do.  I wanted to share my stories with people and this is the next logical progression.  As terrifying as it is,  it’s where I need to be.   Another scary step forward I suppose.     What’s the most terrifying thing you’ve ever had to do to push yourself forward?   What’s the scariest dream you’ve ever pursued?  This is it for me.  Just getting up and talking about what I love to do.  So if you show up for me on the 13th,  thank you for the support and please be kind to the very flustered author.