All posts by Sandra Hults

Because I haven’t had enough coffee for a title…

Current reading:  Prophecy –  Cassandra Morgan / Mage: The Awakening,  2nd edition

Inspired by:  The Chain – Fleetwood Mac

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Books and roses, two of my favorite things. 

 

So a first happened for me on Thursday…

I got asked to speak at a writer’s group.

For those of you that know me well,  I am not at all comfortable with being the center of attention.  I am always stepping back for more knowledgeable,  more eloquent people.  I come across better in my writing than I do in person.  I have an inordinate fondness for the word fuck. I am not always appropriate or fluent.  I’m just me and, at times,  I feel that’s inadequate for the task I am given.  Do I bite the bullet and do it anyway? Sure. It just comes out kind of awkward.

Public speaking is a concept that terrifies me.  Hell, at my first book signing I was too keyed up to do a reading .  My teenager graciously agreed to do so.   So being invited is a big deal to me.  To the friend that invited me, thank you.  To the people that graciously listened and asked questions while I tried to stammer through a coherent explanation to my process, getting published and everything involved with that craziness,  thank you in duplicate.  It really mean a lot to me that you feel like I have advice to give.   And honestly,  I’m  a firm believer in paying it forward.  When I started a support group did not exist.  I knew no other writers in my local area to connect with.

Until I met my husband,  people did not get that need to create inside me or respect the fact that it was a need in the first place.   I did not understand the need half as well as I do now.  I take that back.  One person understood but at the time he was so mired in his own situations that I did not lean when I needed to.  You know who you are.  M’bad.  ❤

I meant what I said at the end.

No matter what,  keep going.  Don’t hesitate.  Life’s going to keep right on moving whether you do or not.

What have you got to lose?

So, in a nutshell,  I got to meet some new folks who suffer from a lot of the struggles many of us do.  Lack of time,  stories fizzling out,  ideas that always seem stuck in work-in-progress land.  In truth, it happens to all of us.  I have two or three unfinished, unfollowed through on ideas.  Maeseloria takes up a great deal of my time and focus.   Admittedly, the single track for my creativity helps with my focus.   And, in truth, Maeseloria evolved from multiple stories that I played around with for years.  I just found a thread to tie them together and it worked.

At any rate,  to those in the group that may be reading this…thanks for having me.  I’d be delighted to join you again sometime soon.   If you need feedback, brainstorming,  even a pep talk…or if you just want to shoot the shit,  you have my email address.

In other related news,  I see the light at the end of the first-round revision tunnel!  The last chapter has been hand revised and needs keyed.   That should be tackled this weekend.   I’ll keep you posted.     I am going to try and post more often here but life has been crazy as of late and the motivation on my part lacking.   So with that being said,  I am requesting feedback from all of you.  What do you like to see on this blog? Do you enjoy the snippets and potential storylines?  Do you like the life updates? The social commentary?  Do you wish I would post more often?   Throw me some feedback in the comments guys or email, or tweet or Facebook me.   I’m pretty easy to find.

 

 

Cut me from the Light…

Current Reading:  Prophecy –  Cassandra Morgan

Inspired by:  Shatter Me – Lindsey Stirling

Yes.  I readily admit to being a slacker about my blog as of late.   I have been busy with Shadow’s Journey revisions and work and life.  I recently had a local author event at Gathering Volumes.  The event went well in spite of the freezing cold and rain.  If you want to see photos, check out the May edition of the Maeseloria Monthly.    For those that have been waiting for the next installment of Alex and Marc,  allow me to proceed. If you missed the first installment leading up to this, check out the blog post Reunion.  Happy reading!

 

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How appropriate.  Alexandra thought when she observed the dawning daylight. She turned towards her brother.  He leaned against the wall next to Emma’s front door with his arms folded over his chest.   The look on his face was thunderous.  “Years ago,  Fate above, we must have been children.”  As he spoke he pushed from the wall and fell into step with her.  The path led away from Emma’s home.  “I made you a promise that I would never leave your side again.  Do you remember?”

“We were not children, brother-mine.”  Alexandra responded as he took her hand.  “Just naïve.”  Her words were gentle,  thoughtful.  The warmth of his hand was much missed.  In those dark catacombs the thought of her loved ones kept her alive and allowed her to keep fighting.  She suspected admitting such a thing though would simply fuel the fire that burned within her brother.  Emma was  a curious puzzle that she would address with him soon.  For now, however, Alexandra savored the warmth of Marc’s hand in hers and the familiar comfort of his mind occupying her own.

“Perhaps naïve but since we retook the kingdom,  have I ever failed you?”    He murmured as they took the path away from Emma’s.  With a minute flex of will, he pulled them both away into the early morning light.  He knew she allowed him to exert that level of control and power over her.  Marcus understood her better than anyone but Nicholas,  he felt.   When he realized the old man was in on her scheme,  the thought infuriated him that much more.   The training clearing of their childhood sprawled before them when they reappeared.    “I have of much to lose in light of your passing as you do.”  He jerked her to a halt and turned her to face him.  Marc never used force on his sister but the grasp on her shoulders bit into the skin.  “What compelled you to believe you could not trust me with this?”

Their gazes clashed like fire and ice.  “Are you done whining, love?”   Alexandra spoke on tones so gentle that they further provoked his ire.  “I did what must be done.  This consequence included you and yours.  I could not change that.  The tale had to be believe.  This was a consequence of that choice. What would you have me do?  Risk the kingdom at the consequence of your tender heart?”

“For fuck’s sake Alex, do  not patronize me.”  He rounded on her and growled.  “I have someone to lose here beyond you and she might not fucking survive my passing any more than I would survive yours.”  Marc raged against the calm emerald of her eyes. Fate above, he wanted to shake some emotion into her eyes.  How could she not regret this choice and all the pain the decision had caused?

“I would not insult your intelligence Marcus, however tempted I may be.”   Alexandra shot back and arched a white blonde brow.  “Now who is being patronizing?  Riddle me this, Marcus.  Were you so blind as to see that you were not the only one with a life to lose?”  Without a word, Alexandra flexed her will and brought Lily to the clearing.   You may be angry with both of us but you need to understand.   “I have a daughter, a husband, a family just like you.  Must we revisit this lesson because you now have someone so beloved to you that it terrifies you to consider losing her?”

Marc could not find words and struck as their fights so often erupted into when they disagreed. Alexandra dodged the blow and met him stride for stride by countering his physical force with her mental.  “I did what I must Marcus.  I will not allow you to guilt me for so difficult a decision. Yes,  I could have told you but then to what end?”  She asked as his knuckles pounded against the physical shell she set around herself.  He would be bruised later.  “What purpose would it serve beyond easing your own conscience?   You were safer not knowing and we both know it.  Your nature could not have kept you away from me no matter what state I was in.  Your power could have been a detriment to my survival.”  Alexandra scowled as she lectured him.  Fed up with his constant battering of the shield instead of listening, she shoved him hard enough with her mind to send him skittering across the clearing.  The temperature around them was rising as her brother, at last pushed her towards anger.

Glancing beyond them to Lily,  Alexandra whipped the dagger from her belt and buried at the girls feet. The ward was activated with no more than a though.   I will not have you harmed when I brought you here. Least of all by my temper.  “More the fool you are to your own nature Marcus. My point was proven when you tore the realm apart because you realized I lived.   The poison worked against our magic,  Marcus.  The same poison that killed Devin accelerates at the touch of Jade bloodlines.  Of the two of us,  you simply cannot allow matters to be what they will.”

“Do you hear me?  Tessa could have saved him.  Nicholas could have saved him but I could not and I will carry that ghost until I die. Forgive me for excluding you.  Fate gave me a duty and I fulfilled it.  Her brother was picking himself up from the ground and cursing.   His words and his bruised pride did not move her in the least.   “I will not ask you to agree with the choice or the consequences.  I never have but I will be damned if you will not respect them or me and the courage it took to make them. “   Her eyes narrowed.  “You promised, your honor is not harmed by my choice.   You did not leave my side for you were in my thoughts every day for the last year.  The thought of you and those in my care enabled me to survive.”

Marc glared though he saw both her reason and felt the air’s temperature rising between them.  He did not see Lily until Alexandra build the dagger’s ward around her. His heart broke to see her standing there before he turned his attention back to his sister.  “I get it, Alex.  You did what duty required…truly but you have lost before sister-mine.  I have not and do not intend to.  Your secrets might put her at risk and I cannot abide that.”  He turned towards Lily.  Anger bristled in her green eyes.

As he stepped towards his beloved, Alexandra spoke.  Her words were intended to turn his blood cold.  “And what would you have done if it had been her and not Devin?”   When he froze,  she nodded to Lily and vanished from the clearing.  Her dagger remained as an invitation for him to locate her later.    Fate had best believe he would and they would finish their discussion once calmer heads prevailed. His was not.

“Lily.” He murmured as he met her eyes.   With a thought, he disabled the ward.  Once it was disabled, she came at him with a flurry of kicks and strikes that caught him off guard.  He wrapped her up in his arms.  He absorbed each blow though he would be bruised later.  She could stab him at this point for all that it mattered.

“You’re an idiot,  my lord.  A Light blasted fucking idiot.”

 

 

Why Introverts Make Good Writers

I thought this was fascinating and very apt. Let me know what you guys think. 🙂

A Writer's Path


by J.U. Scribe

I return to blogging because I like to write. Never did it cross my mind that my keen interest in writing had anything to do with who I am on a fundamental level until recently. After you read this you’ll understand the connection I started to make with introversion to writing.

It is estimated that at least 1/3  of the population are introverted. For a significant portion of the population, including myself we felt largely misunderstood. We felt something was wrong with us. I may not have been able to articulate it during childhood, but I learned early on that being outgoing, sociable, and assertive were more socially acceptable than being reserved, quiet, and passive.

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Reading habits

Hi everyone!

I suffer from an innate curiosity that is sometimes a blessing; sometimes a curse.  At times,  I cannot help but ask questions and pursue an answer further.  I’m the one that researches while watching historical fiction or if I want more information.  I like research.

So I got tagged in a recent Facebook post and it got me curious about those of you who follow the blog.  The list was simple but I wanted to expand a little.  The why’s are always important to me.  So give me your list, tell me your why if you’d like. Or just present the list. 🙂  (I may or may not have responded to a similar blog post from a fellow author a few months back)

Here’s the Facebook post:

Ten Books

I’ve been tagged to name 10 books that have meant something to me.
Rules: In your status line, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard ~ they don’t have to be the “right” or great works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag 10 friends, including me, so I’ll see your list.

I don’t tag people for stuff like this, so please feel free to consider yourself tagged if this is your kind of thing. I’m curious to see what some of my favorite bookworms respond with.

1. It – Stephen King
2. The Stand – Stephen King
3. Sleepers – Lorenzo Carcaterra
4. The Constant Princess – Philippa Gregory
5. Hamlet – Shakespeare
6. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
7. North and South (1 & 2) – John Jakes
8. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
10. No Greater Love – Danielle Steel

So here’s my why:

Books  1 and 2:  Well worn, well loved favorites.  I read It for the first time when I was sixteen.  The Stand, 17 or 18 I think.  These two books got me turned on to the concept of epic storytelling.  They made me want to write.  Looking at it later in life,  I think those two things got me started. I’m sure King gets a lot of authors started but those two books are special for me.  Besides, they’re just damned good stories.

Book 3:  This book made the list not only because it is a favorite but it’s about survival.  This author really takes you into the minds of these characters and their motivations. I won’t spoil what it’s about but if you have ever seen the film they made from it–the film doens’t do the novel justice.

Book 4:  I read this book after I saw the film The Other Boleyn girl and watched The Tudors.  I love my history. I love my Tudor England. What gets me about this particular book is Katherine of Aragon’s story and the quiet strength she resonated in the face of many adversities.  The story unfolds from her childhood through her first marriage and her life with Henry VIII.  Through many hardships and heartaches, she remained true and as constant as the title of the book suggests.

Book 5: I read this in high school.  There is a copy of this book on my shelf and it still gets taken out from time to time and read.  Hamlet’s tale is amazing and, in many regards a story within a story.  This above all to thine own self be true.   – One of my favorite quotes ever as well as a constant reminder. The more I age, the more that quote impacts me.

Book 6:  Okay, who did not read this book at some point in their high school/middle school existence?  About two years ago, my daughter brought it home again because they were reading it in school.  I picked it up and read it again for old times sake.  Anne’s story is important to me because, to me, all she had left was imagination and in many ways I think that imagination may have gotten her through those long, terrifying days.

Book 7:  This is the only two-fer that made my list.  The reaso n I love these books is because they put a very human face on war.  They explain how people can grow and exist on both sides of the battle lines.  They address the horrors of the Civil War and what happened to families before, during and after. If you have never read these books and enjoy either historical fiction or the civil war–check them out. They’re worth the read.

Book 8:  I read this book in high school much like Hamlet and Anne Frank but this was the first war story I ever read and it left an impact on me at 16.  I think I loved the love story wrapped up in the middle of war torn Europe.  There are other books that have that same style but lack Hemingway’s depth.  I also think this book had a big impact on my love for history and wanting to track down the history behind the story.

Book 9:  I could write for hours about this book. If you have a creative mind and love a powerful story,  read this book.  Her words stay with me. So does the power of her story.  If you are unfamiliar with Maya Angelou,  go look her up.

Book 10:  I have not picked up this author in more than a decade but I will pick up this story and Message from Nam any day over a lot of other authors.  No Greater Love is a story of self-sacrifice in the face of tragedy.  The story, to me, is about putting the good of others ahead of your own, doing what you have to do regardless of the cost,  because it is right, because it needs doing.   For me, the main character’s will to see her family not just survive but thrive touches me.

 

Okay, so those are my ten.  To my readers,  tell me what you guys read.  Funny thing is there is not really a single Fantasy novel on that list.   Share your suggestions with me!  I’d love to hear you.  In the comments, via email, Twitter or Facebook.  I’d love to hear from you!

For my regular readers,  my sincerest apologies on the delay of April’s newsletter.  Life got ahead of me and, well, some silly author did not click the button to actually schedule the campaign.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Reunion

Current listening:  A Poem for Byzantium –  Delerium

Current reading:  Stephen King,  It.

So,  many of my regular followers have been tuned in for the story line with Emma.  I have yet to decide if she will be featured in a future book. Your feedback on her character is welcome.  I don’t know that I’m completely satisfied with this passage because it feels rough but I hope you enjoy it!  Happy Reading!


 

Emma woke what felt like hours later on her own couch.  Her red-to-gold hair was a tousled mess and she was in a nightgown before a woman that could only be deemed royalty.  Emma suspected this in the woman’s manners.  Quiet power and authority were traits that were hard to hide no matter how skilled at deception one may be.

Night was still upon them she noted as she lifted her head to glance about the small parlor. The hearth now blazed and her compassionate invader sat beside her.  “Only minutes.” That patient voice answered the flushed to the roots of her hair.  “Forgive me, your guards were down for a moment. When was the last time you ate, child?”

When Emma moved to sit up,  a force pushed her back down to the couch.  “I could not say but could you stop mentally restraining me. I do not have the energy to try and break your hold. Clearly you’re not leaving.”  The woman responded with a nod.  “Very well then since you appear to be more stubborn than my last visitor and, based on your accent, from the same area.”  Her words for some reason made the woman chuckle.  Though her body was weakened, Emma’s mind worked just fine.  “Emma Jacobs.”

“Alexandra Jade.”  In the ensuing silence,  the woman could have blown her home from kingdom come and left her for dead.  Emma’s surprise was that complete.  “And that was why I did not give you my name before you fainted. I dislike that reaction.  I am as human as you are.”   Though she was chiding the girl, Alexandra could not help but smile. What she felt of the girl was a stubborn sort of fortitude she admired.   This girl was a survivor, Alexandra suspected. That nature was not foreign to her.

“What brings the fabled Lady Jade to my door?”  Emma asked on hesitant tones as she pushed herself up on her elbows into a seated position.  The hesitance in her voice and the concern were clear.  She did not want this. This woman should not be here.  She could guarantee her discovery.  Emma knew she would have to leave the home she has always know after this encounter.  No choice remained.   She grew up in this house.   Emma scanned the room.  The structure was far from the grandeur of the noble seats of royalty that stood at each distant corner of the realm but it was home.  Here she could still connect with Edward’s memory though she hid from his darkness.

A gentle hand on her shoulder stirred her from her tumbling thoughts.  “Be at ease. I reinforced your wards when I arrived. The door will open to no one but you. Your safety is ensured. I will force nothing from you.  If I did, I would be no better than what you hide from.”   Alexandra’s eyes were a mix of curiosity and kindness as she spoke.   “You bring me to your door, if you must know.  You’re important though I am uncertain why.”   Her own frustration surfaced in her voice as she spoke.  As of late, her dreams had been a scattered mess. Two paths kept appearing in her dreams and neither answer was clear.  “A single shadow haunts my dreams.  That shadow turns to a light so bright I cannot fathom its origins. That beacon pulses here.  I know you are a Starson by blood.  I can sense my own magic in your wards.  Who taught you?”

Alexandra burst into laughter when Emma eyed her with the shrewdness of a fishwife dickering with a docks man over the price of his catch.  The Sorceress could tell the girl was taking measure of what information she chose to share.  Alexandra could understand. “Fair enough.   Allow me to  feed you before we talk.  You are quite correct that I am far more stubborn than your last guest.  He found you when he was out looking for me.”

The woman stood as Emma absorbed the shock and moved through the house in search of the small kitchen where she could prepare food for her charge.  When Emma attempted to stand, the room spun for a dizzying second.   A few more minutes, she decided. Once she found the strength to rise,  Emma found her bustling about to put together a simple repast.  “Your brother?”  One could not know of Alexandra and be unaware of her brother.  The rumors that swept the land about the brother and sister were both frightful and awe-inspiring.  Like many, Emma thought so much power should not exist within a single being.

“My brother.  Our power has its pitfalls and the rumors tend to misplace our humanity.”  Alexandra explained with a small smile.  Emma was deliberate in what she allowed her to see. The thought almost  prompted her to laugh once again. That telepathic care was so deliberate that it reminded her of her own dealings with fellow telepaths.   Alexandra was not unaware of the whispers and opinions of the world around them.  Such things were difficult to tune out after a time.

Soon enough, a plate of bread, fruit and cheese sat before Emma.  The terse order that she should eat reminded her of her mother.   Decades of habit prompted her to do just that.  Her mother’s terseness was never disobeyed by she or Edward.   The information she provided was minimal.  The woman was clearly not going away until Emma gave her some bit of information.  “Very well, I do suppose I can do you the courtesy of answering your question before I send you on your way. My grandmother was Sarina Starson. She passed the knowledge down to my mother.  Mother had a few gifts.  My brother and I, however, were born full blooded with the Starson gifts.”

Alexandra nodded before speaking on thoughtful tones.  “My lineage is no mystery to most of the realm.” A wry smile curled the woman’s lips before she continued.  “So,  what would you choose? Return to the capital or stay here amid the terror that haunts your eyes.”   Her perception was so sharp that Emma dropped the roll she had been tearing into.  “Neither one of us has time to mince words, I suspect.”

“I…need to stay here.” Emma spoke after an awkward pause.   How much could she divulge? What called her was not a duty she could dispense to another nor a burden she could share.  Much to her reluctance, Duty called her all the same.  “Something here is unresolved. I feel it.  I also feel if I fight through and find what keeps me up at night that I will obtain some measure of peace. You will not force me?”  At Alexandra’s laughter, Emma raised  a curious brow.  “And what have I said to amuse you, my lady?”

The laughter ceased at use of Alexandra’s formal title.   The title reminded her of what awaited her in the capital, if not sooner.  Her brother’s return, would not be kind, she suspected. “Nothing, dear girl,  but the idea that I would attempt to force a practitioner of your caliber amuses me.  We do not force our own.  We do not force Fate’s chosen.  All things occur in the Her time, no sooner. You hide who and what you are for your own reasons and I will not press you about them.”  Patience reflected in Alexandra’s eyes. Years ago, that patience did not exist.  “Come to us in your own time.  I will say this, however.”  Patience fled in the wake of mirth.  “You would give our cousin,  the Grand Cleric, a run for her money in stubbornness.”   With that statement,  Alexandra rose.  “I have reinforced your wards,  Emma.  No one will get to you here.  Call for me if you have need of me.”

With that statement,  a puzzled look crossed the Sorceress’ features.  “Another matter appears to have come to my attention.  I look forward to seeing you soon.”  And with that,  the woman was gone.  The Jade siblings both perplexed and intrigued her.   The woman, at least, was not as fearsome as the rumors spoke.  At the same time,  Emma could see the restraint Alexandra used with her.   The puzzle was interesting, to say the least.  Distantly, Emma heard the front door close and settled in to eat and mull over the curiosity of her dreams.

Dawn was just cresting the horizon when Alexandra stepped out into the night beyond Emma’s home. A small smile curled her lips at what greeted her.

“Hello, sister-mine.”

 

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.