Category Archives: Writing

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.

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…

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.

 

 

Hidden

Inspired by:  Lindsey Stirling – Beyond the Veil

Brought to you by:  The Figment Writers

Hello!  October  17 is the release date for Maeseloria: Light’s Guide.  I cannot be more excited to share Christi’s story with you.   On Monday,  I will be hosting a Facebook Live event at 8 pm EST.  Please stop in and say hi,  the big reveal for this book will be at 8 sharp so don’t be late!      Let’s see…news news.   We are less than a month from the local author fair.  If you are a local person,  the Local Author Fair is at Way Public Library in Perrysburg from 1:30-3.   Hope to see you there!

There will also be a signing/release event for Maeseloria:  Light’s Guide at Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg.  I will be there from 2-5 with some pretty awesome giveaways planned.  Make sure you stop in.  We will have all four books available for both purchase and the author’s signature.  I look forward to seeing you!

Now, on to the business at hand…this week’s writing prompt.   This week, our beloved hostess with the mostest gave us a single word prompt,  hidden.   For this,  a new character outside the realm came to mind.  This is an amazing realm created by my friend and editor.  Let’s see if we can do it justice.

Adrienne Morgan crept from the castle just after dawn.  Princess Terra would be asleep for a few hours more.   Even the realm’s best diplomat needed a moment to herself beyond the pressures of station and realm.  She snuck from the castle in a pair of black pants, coat and blouse.  This morning,  Adrienne was dressed for the morning’s chill rather than society’s dictates.  Her strawberry shaded hair was tied in a loose knot at the nape of her neck.    Her bow rested against her shoulder like an extension of herself and the quiver of arrows that joined it felt like home.

Home was not a place she had seen in sometime.   Her parents left their country manor nearly two years before with the intention of finding a suitable mate worthy of their only daughter.   Adrienne was paraded and presented to every noble from not only her clan but many neighboring clans,  including the Marei.  At this juncture,  she resigned herself to being a maid.  Two years and no one offered for her hand.  Two years of negotiating and hopes resulted in nothing.  The very idea that she was unwanted galled her.  Her family connections alone should have brought at least one offer for her hand.   The idea of her remaining in the unmarried state concerned her parents.

That concern prompted them to seek out the princess and offer her as a lady in waiting.  Adrienne thought as she reached the archery yards.   Their desperate act led to a friendship she would trade for nothing.  Terra was the sister she had always longed for.  The princess’ tenacity impressed her.  Though her patience and short temper often led to difficult situations,  Adrienne would have served no other.   Beneath those difficulties, she found her friend compassionate and loving.

A smile crept across her lips as she knocked her first arrow,  drew and let it fly.   The smile faded to a murderous look when she saw her arrows struck far to the left of the bullseye.  Truthfully, she was out of practice.  Her duties kept her from the yards and the thought saddened her.   In truth, if she married her husband would not likely approve of a wife who handled a bow and could hunt as well as he.   Ladies were expected to fawn over the men during the course of the hunt, not outshine their counterparts.

Like lightning,  she knocked a second arrow and fired.   The second shot struck home.  “Much better.”  She murmured as daylight grew before her.  How long could she stay hidden among society’s doves before they whispered she was long past her prime and relegated her to the spinster category?  The thought bothered her.  At some point in her life,  she wanted a husband and family.   Right now,  she would settle for her dawns on the archery yards and serving her princess as faithfully as she could.

A grin crept across her lips.  Perhaps she could convince Terra to go on a hunt with her before winter was upon them.  With Terra, at least, she suspected she did not have to hide.

 

 

 

 

 

In the silence…

Inspired by:  The Sounds of Silence – Disturbed

Current Reading:  The Borgia’s – GJ Meyer

Brought to you by:  The Figment Writers

Gee,  my dear hostess,  you really know how to throw a curve ball to the sick author.  This was out of left field so my response is very loosely tied to the image.   So this was our prompt this week:

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The curve was not as far out of left field as I thought but we are back to fiction this week.  This ties into book 5,  The Shadow’s Journey,  but I have not yet figured out how.  I do think this story line may be very important in light of things to come for Maeseloria.  As soon as I saw this image,  I knew who wanted to talk. Hope you enjoy!


 

No man need know Fate’s design before his designated time.  In spite of his beloved’s sufferings, he had his own issues to address.  The words rattled around his head like a dead litany and left him adrift at sea.  Nicholas once spoke those words to a beloved sibling.   He wrestled with what he knew Fate would call not only him to do but what simply must be.  Neither brother knew what legacy his sister left them.  His daughter could not be given the Taltos heritage.  She was a royal and would be called to the Light like her mother before her. Thus,  his dark inheritance could never be Kira’s.  Nicholas scowled as he stared out into the night.

The sun had long since set on the capital.  In a way, he was as comfortable with the night as a Kindred.  Nicholas walked the line between light and dark so often that the thought never concerned him as it once did.  Once, ages ago,  he thought his Faith deserted him in that dark cell. He was secure that his soul belonged to the Light. Why else would Fate have shouldered him with this responsibility?  In truth,  he was more secure now than he once was.  Yet, if he was so confident in Fate’s design,  why did he hesitate to bring the truth to light for the Redwynd brothers?

His travels brought him to, of all places, the cathedral.  The hour was late and he expected the holy place to be empty.  Nicholas’ strides brought him through the doors and to an empty pew before he could give it conscious thought. What drew him to this holy place?  Nicholas drew a deep breath and released it.  “You do not wish to disturb the lives they’ve built, brother mine.”  The voice shook him.  Had it really been almost a century since that dulcet voice touched his ears?  His sister’s rich, earthy tones touched his ears.

“Bri…I…”  Nicholas started as the world began to blur.  The specter before him shook her head and silenced him with a raised hand.  This gesture was common signal between them.  Time was short.  These moments would not allow for the way his heart fractured at her face before him. He nodded and locked his jaw to keep that flash of raw pain in.  The wound never healed.  Time did not afford him the luxury of goodbye.  In a sea of loss, this one pained him the most.  Family meant as much to his clan as the one his sister married.

“I know.  I’ve watched. As much as you wish it love, you cannot keep this secret.  You know Fate will call them as it will.  All you can do is protect my boys along the way.”  Brianna’s tones as gentle in death as they were in life.  His sister had fire, to be sure, but she softened that temperament with a gentle grace he had never seen in another until Alexandra.  “Teach them as only you can. Know that I loved you and missed you until the day I died.”  His sister’s dark hair curled in the same mess he remembered in life.  Her amber eyes were the only thing that differed from the classic Taltos looks.

In spectral form, she settled into the pew beside him.  “This was the only place I could break through.  The blessing was strong enough to reach you.  The cleric you trained brought the blessing back.”  His sister’s voice was filled with an awe he never heard before.  “I prayed for this. Wherever you were, whatever you have done, your actions were to this end, Nic. What Jamison destroyed, you brought home.”

“What good did it do you at the time, Brianna?”  Nicholas scowled.  The point brought rage he thought he had long since put to rest. True, he saw her point but Nicholas resented their separation more than most could have understood.  Her chiding look brought a rush of color to his cheeks.  Brianna, he swore, could reduce a man to a child with that look.  “I logically understand.  Truly, I do but this does not mean heart accepts it.  I do not want this for them.  Specifically, I do not want this for the younger one.  You know what heartache this has brought me.  Even now, the secrets keep a wall between me and mine.”

“As they have for generations before us, Nicholas, do not be ignorant. Fate will give them these burdens whether you want to or not.”  Brianna’s matter-of-fact tones, though brutal, were correct.   In life she may have resented the burden her brother carried alone.  In death, she understood their legacy was a larger part of Fates design.  “Teach them. Prepare them, brother mine.  Thank you for putting me to rest with the family.”  Then, with whispered words of love, his sister was gone.  Nicholas sat alone in the cathedral well into the night.  Could he burden the youngest Redwynd with the family legacy?  How long would Fate allow him to leave them to their happiness?

That question battered around his head when his beloved Alexandra interrupted his thoughts. Beloved, would you care to explain this?  She reached for him and replayed her dream’s image.  The string of curses that answered the images indicated to her that the dreams had some relevance.  Fate answered his questions before he was ready to address them.  If you do not speak to Jaylor I will.


 

As always gang, feedback is welcome.  I hope those of you on the mailing list enjoyed the October newsletter and the second installment of The Guardian’s Fall.   Two weeks until The Light’s Guide release.  I can’t wait to get that book in my hands to see how the physical copy turned out!  I will share with you all as soon as I have it.   Until then,  stay out of trouble, gang!

Phobias

Inspired by:  Lost Girls – Lindsey Stirling

Brought to you by:  The Figment Writers

So, at the request of our hostess, I will answer this week’s writing prompt in two ways—both fact and fiction.  This week’s prompt:

Write about a phobia that you have.

Right. So, very few of you know me in person. (Those of you that do; this is not an invitation to put the author in a box.)  But my biggest phobia:

I am very claustrophobic.  Enclosed, crowded spaces cause panic attacks. So there you go. A quick announcement: The Facebook Live event on Wednesday has been moved to 8 pm.  I apologize!  A work conflict with my 9-5 arose.   On to the fiction.

 

His beloved was frightened of the gift that ran through her blood.  That blood mingled with the realm’s lifeblood for generations.  Nicholas knew where she was and who accompanied her.  He sent Dominic himself after he explained Alexandra’s situation.  Dominic assured him he could help.  Could he teach her to be comfortable in her own skin again?  Nicholas feared he would lose her to this. Fate had come between them too many times before.

He sat in their chambers and eavesdropped on her conversation with Dominic.  His Alexandra would have expected him to be a silent specter in her head.  His presence was allowed, he understood that.  Her trust in him radiated from that single action.  Marcus was the only other presence she allowed in her head on a regular basis.

His frustration was clear as he felt her struggle.  Dominic could be more brutal than he in terms of teaching.  Dominic did not have a lifetime of teachers at his disposal as Nicholas did.   The Deveraux were never called to educate, to guide.  He almost interceded until her laughter touched his ears.  When was the last time he heard her laugh?  Nicholas’ lips thinned to a thoughtful line.

His gaze drifted to the little form huddled beneath a pile of blankets in their bed.  She came in not long after her mother left. A ghost of a smile that echoed his beloved’s crossed his features.  Kira was one of the few beautiful legacies he would leave.  Their child was bright, apt and he swore before Fate he would do what he must to give her a more peaceful world than the one she was born into. Though they never told her, he suspected she knew her father.  Both he and Alexandra agreed to keep his identity quiet until Kira was old enough to understand both his sins and his redemption.  The child never questioned his presence in her mother’s chambers.

Nicholas straightened when he felt Alexandra pull on her element.  His gaze was locked on the hearth as he felt her emotions swell. He felt her heart and mind panic. Nicholas feared for her as he did each morning she attempted this exercise.  Light damn it! He felt so helpless. Shock rippled across his features as he felt her terror subside and the draw continued.  Hope blossomed in his heart as he felt that draw strengthen and Dominic’s words drifted through his head. When Fate presents you with a challenge, you survive and overcome.  That is your nature, Alexandra Jade. That is your gift.”

Nicholas smiled and murmured. “Thank you, my friend.”   A soft chuckle crossed his lips his best friend’s response.  It’s nice to be the teacher for a change.  Nicholas felt the tone change in Dominic’s next thoughts. Without her there would be no Light. You brought her home. I can teach her to survive what Fate chose for her.  With that, Dominic silenced and focused on his charge.   Another glance at the bed told Nicholas Kira was as much a bed hog as her mother.

Nicholas mentally pulled the blankets up over his daughter and settled in for a long night by the fire.  She would come home, indeed.

 

Happenings

Too many irons on the fire make Sandra something-something grumpy…This grumpiness can be solved by coffee and chocolate. Ha!

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With that being said, things have been extremely crazy as of late so I thought I send you all an open letter with an update! Let’s see if we can get through all that is going on. Recap!

  • Final edits are progressing for The Light’s Guide.  I hope to post the Prologue here the week before the book releases October 17.  A huge shout out to fellow Figgy Mia and The Figment Writers for steering me towards the Hemingway App for help with the editing process.  Also, if you guys are looking for help with writer’s block,  check out an app called Trello.  It takes my post it idea to the next level. Or, head over to the Figment Writers and join our Facebook group.
  • Also, if you have not had the opportunity to pick up Hope’s Child,  stay tuned for a special deal with the October issue of the Maeseloria Monthly.  If you missed the inaugural edition,  you can check it out here   If you didn’t get a chance to subscribe, you can click the button on the left hand corner of the newsletter to do so.
  • Let’s see…what else. OH,  if you have not hit up my Facebook page,  you will miss a special event on September 14 at 7 pm EST. I will be on Facebook live answering questions about the books, writing process.  It will be fun and interactive and I would love the chance to meet the folks that follow this blog. Come check it out!
  • There has been an update to the contact information on my site. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience. My contact email, going forward,  will be sjhults@bex.net. Please submit any questions, concerns, feedback about my work to this address or, if you really like what you’ve read, leave me a review on Amazon.
  • The deadline for questions for Sandra’s Corner and the October newsletter is right around the corner! I need your questions by September 15 for them to be in the newsletter. Sorry for the typo!
  • Lastly,  for those of you in my local area, I will be participating in my first author fair on November 13.  If you want the information as far as dates/time/place, inbox me, hit me up on Facebook.

I sincerely hope my excitement translates.  I’ve got so much going on that I can’t seem to wrap my head around it all.  Promotions and book 5 is knocking on the back of my head.

In the meantime,  stay out of trouble guys.  🙂

Stumbling through the wreckage

Inspired by:  Best I’ll Ever Be – Sister Hazel

Courtesy of:  The Figment Writers

So…regular readers, how often do you see this song in the “Inspired by” section of my blog?  This song was introduced to me by a friend a few years ago.  The song is a lyrical kick in the ass.  I have written many shattering scenes to this song because I get this visual of a person standing in the rain over a grave. He’s trying to cope,  trying to understand why his life was so drastically changed by a single moment. Will things get better?  Here are the lyrics to this if anyone is curious.  To me the song is a powerful statement about grief and the cycles of loss.   So the following bit of fiction is birthed from that.  If the writings surrounding this storyline seem disjointed or not connected;  that is completely intentional on my part.  Please enjoy.

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The graves were echoes of the past.  Alexandra mused.  How many years had passed since she returned to their little manor just past the realm’s border? Though the building and gardens were in working order,  Kira was but a babe when she last saw this place.  The graves that lay before her were well tended and no more than place markers of her past.   Graves were the best she and Marc could do when their adoptive parents were killed.  There were no bodies to bury but the act gave them solace. “We were so foolish and young.” She murmured to the empty night air.   Three weeks had passed since Nicholas returned her skills to her.  Stubborn was the best way to describe her current state of mind, she mused. Each morning,  she worked to touch her skills.  Failure was not a state of affairs she accepted well.

Each morning was a test of power versus her sheer will.  This morning, she could maintain her skills for five minutes before panic threatened to overtake her.  Though Nicholas explained that she would need her shelter when she struggled, no one could manage her powers but her and she refused to allow others to control them on her behalf.  Her magic was wild,  she knew.   Fire itself was a wild element that only the strongest willed could bend.  The only more difficult element, she suspected, was earth.  How skilled would one have to be to wrest the earth form her Fated course?

That elemental wildness called her here. The palace was home but this place called to her heart too.  She was raised here, after all, and spent a portion of her life in blissful ignorance about her true history.   “We all suffer from foolish youth.”  The voice made Alexandra whirl and begin to draw on her skills.  “Most of us outgrow it eventually.”   Dominic Devereaux stepped from the shadows.  “Light above woman,  put those hands down before you ash me!” His jovial tone disarmed her immediate reaction.

Truth be told, she did not leave Maeselorian lands without escort in the form of Nicholas or Marcus. That she could be here alone was certainly a sign of changing times,  Dominic decided.   Nicholas came to him two nights ago and asked for his help.  The man had more than a flirting familiarity with what lengths Dominic went to just to survive in the dark.  After all, he was a child of Light just like the rest of them.

“Well if we are to be honest, which I prefer since I know how you Jades abhor liars.”  Dominic teased a smile before he continued. “I was sent by more than one party to look after you.  They all decided I was the least likely to trigger stress in you or pressure you. I believe a word or two was mentioned about being stubborn enough to try when everyone else was out of harm’s way.”  Dominic gentled his next words as much as Fate would allow him.  “Those dear to you requested my help.”

She was hardly dressed for court formality.  A loose pair of black pants and blouse covered her tiny frame and her platinum locks were plaited back in a wrist-thick braid that bounced against her bottom.  His words prompted a brow to perk with curious amusement.  “And who were the parties involved in this decision? I feel I may have to address the issue with them directly.”  A good natured calm radiated from the man and,  though they were not close, Alexandra valued him for the love he bore her cousin Tanya.  For the first time in days a smile that was not forced to prevent others from worrying curled her lips. At mention of his assistance, her curiosity grew. “What sort of help could you provide, Dominic?”

“A gentleman does not name names,  Lady Jade.”  Her pert nose wrinkle at mention of her title prompted his laughter to drift through the night.  “You dislike your title as much as another warrior I know. Walk with me a bit?”  He offered an arm as was appropriate for a social interaction.  When her fingertips rested on his sleeve, Dominic smiled.  He knew the lady in question would leave little room for misunderstanding with his beloved.  He led her through the rather splendid gardens of the manor.  Alexandra’s wards would keep him from the house but the grounds were safe enough. He disregarded her latter question for now.  “When did you lay the wards on the house?”

“No, he does not but I suspect my cousin was involved. Perhaps she and Nicholas decided you were the least threatening.”  Alexandra indulged in a bit of her own teasing and allowed him to steer  her through paths she knew by heart.  “When I was a girl not old enough to understand who I am,  or what it meant to be a child of Light.”  Her answer was quiet, thoughtful as they wandered.  She smiled.  “We were fighting  your former employer, dear boy.”  In the next few minutes, Alexandra explained the night her brother was returned to her. By pure chance, she laid wards on the house strong enough to deter any Kindred.  The wards, Dominic noted, were renewed recently.

Dominic scowled at her choice of words then chuckled.  “I heard stories of his rantings after you escaped his dungeon and he somehow failed to retrieve you.  I never knew why for the old demon would never say. He only muttered about how you should not have been able to do what you did. You and that brother of yours have a history of that or so I have come to understand.”   He patted her hand as they came to a crossroad in the garden.  He looked to the woman beside him and was reassured when she laughed and gestured to their left.  “That was the purpose of my visit.  You and Marcus are an unknown entity to the realm.”

He steered her to a bench and settled himself next to her.  Here at least the blasted wards would not interfere with his skills.   “Before you argue with me ,  allow me the courtesy of finishing my thought.”  The chiding brought color to her cheeks, Dominic noted with approval.   At least she understood he was not going to preach to her about what she and her brother were fated to be. “Blah blah, prophesied children of Light…restore Light to the realm.”   The gesture that accompanied his words made her laugh. “That’s not what I mean.  I mean that I have seen people driven mad by war and power. I have seen minds which never recover from that level of power and death.   We have all felt your strength of will at one point or another.  If anyone can beat this, it is you. None of my brethren ever could.”

Dominic admitted, much to his shame and sadness. “I watched them go mad as war and destruction progressed.  Every one of us that were original exiles had to be put down like rabid dogs.  I alone survived.  Most that you destroyed during the war were third,  fourth generation Devereaux. The methods they used to maintain the family cycle was disturbing to say the least.  I could not help them but I can help you.”  Dominic’s gaze flicked up and met hers.  “And I do not mean by running from the problem or putting your skills on hold until you’re ready.”  Dominic paused to consider his next words.

“Until you’re ready is for cowards and fools, Lexi.  You are neither.”  The nickname, often used by her cousin, felt foreign from is lips.  That, coupled with his forceful words prompted her to straighten and scowl.  This time, Dominic had no gentle teasing in his voice or intent to soothe her. He had her attention and that goal was what he sought.  “ What you are doing now,  a little every day will help until you can cope with the memories.   But again, humor me. Summon a fireball.”

Dominic held her gaze with a steady will that matched her own.  How could he know?  Alexandra wondered.  When she began to close her eyes,  he shook his head.  “Keep them open.  Summon your element. Closing your eyes at first leaves you in the dark and at the mercy of memory.”  His directive was blunt and more brutal than Nicholas’ teachings.  “I’m not as gentle as he is when I teach.  Time altered that in me. Forgive me.”

With a soft snicker,  Alexandra humored him and summoned a fireball in the palm of her hand.  Her hand trembled as she felt those emotions surface.  “Watch me. Right here Alex.” Dominic directed her focus towards him and not was bubbled up inside her.  With that easy gesture, the panic eased.  “You are afraid.  I understand. I acknowledge your fear because I have lived through it.  Like you, I am no innocent when it comes to destruction and power but I decided long ago not to be victim to it or allow it to suck me into the past. You are not helpless. You are as in control today as you were the day of the final battle. Keep breathing, Alex. “

Alexandra felt her heartbeat quicken as the elements heat began to build within her palm.  Both the paced breathing  and  Dominic’s words kept her focus on the here and now rather than allowing the past to suck her under.  Minutes ticked by as she focused and the intensity of the flame in her palm grew.  His words touched her spirit.   “You were the most magnificent warrior I have ever seen. Your actions were necessary to not just your survival but the survival of the realm.”

Dominic repeated as he felt her focus begin to waiver.  “Keep breathing Alex.”  When the memories threatened he told her to breathe to refocus her attention.  She was here, in this moment. At times, this very exercise saved Dominic’s sanity over the years.  The missions his elders sent him on were often brutal and unkind. They tried to sap his sanity,  his reason.  Their direction often threatened to get him killed.  His little warrior did not understand what he meant when he told her she saved him but he would spend whatever time the Light granted them showing Tanya just that.

“Our Queen would not be on her throne and my beloved dead were it not for your actions that day.”  Dominic held her focus. Not once did she look away from the force behind his words. Truthfully, they were words he waited some months to express to her.  His gratitude to her had little limit.  If not for her intervention, after all, he likely would be skewered on the end of her brother’s sword.   “Never discount what you have accomplished.  When Fate presents you with a challenge, you survive and overcome.  That is your nature, Alexandra Jade. That is your gift.”

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A few notes for you, readers.

The Maeseloria Monthly drops in a little under two weeks. To anyone that may have had issues with signing up via the popup form,  I apologize.  I was unaware that the information was not displaying correctly.  So thank you Mr. Galvin for letting me know :).  This issue has been resolved.  Just click the Subscribe link off to the right and a form will pop up for you to use.   Don’t miss out on The Guardian’s Fall and upcoming events! I have a few entertaining items planned for the month ahead.  Please join me! I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Reflections

Inspired by:  Crystallize – Lindsey Stirling

Courtesy of:  The Figment Writers

Author’s note:  This is a follow up to a previous blog I wrote concerning Alex.  If you wish to read the what happened prior, check out this blog post before you continue reading. Also, if you have not read Hope’s Child, read on at your own risk. 

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Reflections….

I feel the lack of you. Alexandra watched the tide roll in as Marc’s words returned to her.  His words prompted her to look long and hard at the actions of her loved ones since the war’s end.  This was often her place of solace. The tide soothed her spirit when it was aflame with whatever stress or worry troubled her.  Her dreams began all those years ago with this very shore line.  After all this time, was she bitter that her dreams did not bring what she felt she was promised?  Perhaps. The road was so much harder than she could have imagined in her youth.  Yet, when she paused to reflect, Alexandra Jade wondered if she would have all the blessings that surrounded her now without the hardship and loss.

“The answer, beloved, would likely be no.”  His words prompted a warm smile to drift across her lips. Since her implosion,  the nightmares were becoming less frequent.  Nearly a week passed since they warded her skills.  The panic attacks slowed and for the first time in months she could rest.  “You know Fate chooses the path before us—both the blessings and what feel like curses at the time.”  Nicholas Taltos looked her over from the top   of her platinum hair to the tips of her toes.  His life was forever altered by her presence.  He would trade none of his past heartache for this moment.  Of that, he could be certain.  He lowered himself beside her and slid an arm around her.  She leaned against him as though she were born to be there.  At times, he wondered if that was precisely Fate’s design.

“Wishful thinking.”  Her lips thinned to a line as she rested against him.  The conclusion she was coming to was not pleasant but needed discussed with the one person who may be able to advise her in some capacity.  “Things have been easier since you both sealed my powers for a time.”  The truth was the seal remained on her powers only because she allowed it and both men knew that.  She could remove their protections at any time with her own hand and, truth be told, she was afraid that the panic and fear and nightmares would return full force if she allowed a return to normalcy.

“You have allowed yourself to feel more.”  Nicholas explained on quiet, compassionate tones.   “Due to the nature of your skills,  you contain your emotions as much as you can so you do not burn the palace down around our ears.”  A small smile tugged at the corners of is mouth as he hugged her again.  “We appreciate that more than you know,  Alexandra.”  The teasing brought another smile he would trade his existence for.  For a few minutes,  he was thoughtful.  Nicholas had debated for days how to address this issue with her. He had a suspicion and it was not a good one.  His father’s old records spoke of warriors who returned to normal life with scars of the mind.  Magic users were often the hardest hit due the nature of their skills and Fate’s blessings.  “I am going to remove the bonds, Alexandra.”

With force, she pushed away from him and he noted with approval the emerald shine that shot into her sea shaded eyes.  He saw the fear that came with her anger.  Before she could rush off in a splendid display of temper, Nicholas held his hands up in an offering of peace.  “Hear me, little one, please.”  The term of endearment got her attention as it was one that he never used in anger against her.  “These terrors, these dreams,  I believe they are tied to your skills. My father wrote at some length about war survivors and you are that, my love.  This too shall pass if you trust the people that love you.”

“If that is your wish,  Nicholas, I will see to the matter myself.” Alexandra shot back and a moment later her skills came flowing back into her body.  With it came the images of that final battle, that push of her will and all the dead.  The color left her face and she nearly fainted with the emotional force those images brought.   “Light damn it.”   If she were standing,  her legs would not have held her weight.  The world felt as though it fell upon her dainty shoulders.  Fire’s heat poured through her veins as the wall between her skills and her carefully controlled emotions collapsed. The heat radiating from her spread south into the sand beneath her feet.

Her breath came in short, panicked gasps as her element came to life within her.  The images subsided leaving her alone with her body and the fire that burned within her.   “Damn you Taltos, why did you need to know?!” She hissed as she tried to slow her pounding heartbeat before the temperature beneath them became too much for either one of them to stand.  Light knew she could turn every grain of sand to glass beneath them but the fires involved would kill them both.  Did he not understand that her skills could destroy the realm at large?  The world was starting to spin before her eyes.  How much could she stand before she begged them to take her skills from her? To remove all that Fate blessed her with?

“Calm, my love. “  His soothing voice gained her attention.  Steady fingers grasped her chin and tilted her face up until their eyes met.   “Breath with me Alexandra.”  Nicholas held her gaze to bring her mind back to the present and the now.  He took slow deep breaths until her breathing mirrored his own.  Fate could only hope his father’s writings were accurate.  This was the only hope he had for not only her but them.  “Slowly. You’re here. Not there.  The past cannot hurt you.”  As he spoke, he felt the fires within her recede to embers.   The reaction was as he expected.  He had waited until she was near enough to the discovery herself to bring it to light. “We will fight this together,  I promise you.”