Sunny

Current Soundtrack:  Move – MercyMe ;  Fly – Jars of Clay

Current reading:  Nothing—requesting recommendations for good historical fiction…aside from Philippa Gregory

Sunny.

So our glorious, fearless leader at  The Figment Writers gave us this single word prompt this week and for most of the week I busted my brain to try and figure out some kind of inspiration for the word.  This prompt also came up in the middle of me being neck deep in Light’s Guide revisions.  So I tabled the word and focused on the daunting task in front of me.  Something would come to me later, I knew.

The task was daunting because as of last Wednesday I still had 5 chapters to edit and my goal was to finish before I returned to the full time desk job after the holiday.  So that word was tabled and I lost myself in the visual/structural aspects of Christi’s story.  And, dear readers,  YES,  this is Christi’s book.

So the days go by and I forget all about it because I’m so absorbed in this process and for my fellow writers,  you all know how rough the revision process is.  The “Does this make sense” comes up often because,  as a creator,  I write in the heat of the moment and pull it into some semblance of order after the story gives me what it wants to say.  Suffice to say,  that the revision process is more tedious because of my creative process.  In the same vein, I don’t think I’d trade this process for the world because—to me, at least—that heat and emotional rawness translates the way I want it to.  The few readers I have connect with my characters and that, at the end of the day, is my ultimate goal.

So Monday night I’m wrapping up the Epilogue and it hits me;  this writing prompt I had tabled came back and smacked me square in the nose!  Sunny can mean a number of things to different people. It can be a disposition, weather,  a description of someone…so many possibilities. To me, with this book’s end, the sun came out for the realm I’ve created.  I completed another story and that’s pretty damn sunny to me.   For Christi, the sun comes out. For me,  I get to put her story to bed with a sunny sense of accomplishment.  Now…to enjoy this June sunshine and savor this accomplishment before I start layout and cover design.

 

Stay tuned, everyone.  Maesloria: Light’s Guide is coming in the fall.  Details to come.

Preparation..

Soundtrack provided by Writing’s on the Wall – Sam Smith,  Throne – Bring Me the Horizon

Today’s blog is brought to you by our friends at The Figment.  As always,  a shout out to the hostess with the mostest,  Mia  Sutton.  Thank you for the inspiration. 🙂  On with the show:

“I have not seen clearly, my Queen, but the Morningstar line does not end with you.”  Alexandra’s words returned to her long after the ride had concluded.  What the path ahead held, Light could only know.  Days later, Christiana Morningstar puzzled over those very words.  Her friend’s messages were often ambiguous at best.  Christiana hardly resent the Sorceress for such things.  Fate blessed where it would.  The thought of children brought both joy and terror to her.

Though she knew her station required her to produce an heir she was in no particular hurry to fulfil that expectation.  All was not right with her realm at this time.  A child’s pattering feet around the palace halls could be a catastrophe that she did not need. At this very moment, Christiana Morningstar sat before petitioners.  Her realm was her primary concern. All the same, Alexandra’s words made her wonder what lay ahead.

Most days, the realm’s Reconstruction occupied her days.  Today was no exception.  Her people brought the realm’s needs to her attention. She was dressed in a rich royal blue satin gown embroidered with pearls.  On another woman, the creation would have seemed ostentatious but on Christiana the attire sang with understated regality.  Her auburn hair was pinned in a loose chignon that was secured by the crown resting atop her head.

The capital, the central focus of Maeseloria, was nearly complete.  Public works were organized and run by the grand cleric, Tessa Starson.  Christiana was still in awe of how fast the woman took the realm’s spiritual matters in hand.  Tessa worked with unparalleled enthusiasm to rebuild schools, libraries, and clinics for the sick. The cleric stood before her now explaining a new plan to revive what once was a thriving scholastic community.  “My Queen, did you hear a word I just said?”

Tessa’s amused words broke into Christi’s errant thoughts.  “Forgive me, my friend.”  The distracted monarch flushed to the roots of her hair. “I appear to have a great deal on my mind lately.” When Tessa gave a nod of acknowledgement, Christiana sighed.  “Please go see Evelyn regarding the funding for this project.  I know you will do as you see fit for the betterment of our realm.”  Tessa dipped a curtsey and disappeared from her chambers. Quite literally, the cleric was there one moment and gone the next.  Much like the Jades, the cleric had a talent for teleportation.

“Usually you aren’t this distracted, Sunspot.”  A companionable voice spoke at her elbow. A gasp would have brought other guards running.  If not for that nickname, she would have summoned help in a heartbeat. Jaylor had a habit of showing up in the oddest places.  “My advice not work out?” He questioned.

“Darkness take you, Jaylor!”  Christi hissed on words well beneath the hearing of anyone else in the receiving chamber. “Your advice worked precisely as you intended.  She got me thinking. Her words stuck with me in a way you likely expected.”  Very nearly, she saw Jaylor crow with delight.  He started to ask what the Sorceress had told her but; soon enough, another petitioner entered the hall.   His curiosity would just have to wait…

 

So I wait…

Soundtrack:  Best I’ll Ever Be (Acoustic) ,   Sister Hazel

Today is brought to you by a writing prompt courtesy of our friends at The Figment. They just opened a brand spanking new website with a link to the forums.  Join us for some creative fun!  Also a brief shout out to Mia Sutton,  foundess extraordinaire,  you can check out her blog at The Chronicles of Chaos.  You rock socks Mia, thank you for all that you do…annd with that being said, on with the show!

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“He would be proud of you,  you know.”  Alexandra Jade spoke on gentle tones.  Dawn was flirting with the horizon when Christiana presented herself at the Sorceress’ chamber door.   By the disheveled appearance and the tired look in their Queen’s eyes, Alexandra suspected they would have a great deal to talk about when she noted the arrival was with the Queen dressed for a morning ride.

Christiana Morningstar was more comfortable on horseback than anywhere else.  When the woman arrived, Alexandra took note of the weathered pants and coat that framed Christiana’s figure.  She made short work of dressing for the occasion and, soon enough, the women were on their way.  As they traveled, Christiana relayed the nightmares she was experiencing.  “Two hands reaching for me out of the darkness….in the course of the dream I am both afraid and reassured.  The nightmares have been recurring every night since we returned from the south.”

The explanation brought them to the current moment and the very words Alexandra provided in response.  “I would dearly love to tell you that I had a clear response for you, Christi but the truth is I do not. I can only guess.”  Her lips thinned to a thoughtful line as she thought of what to say.  “I think they may be cause by the stress of the throne and what you fear most about ruling.”  Alexandra understood the pressures of the throne better than perhaps anyone within the palace.

When Christiana slowed her horse, Midnight, she wheeled to look at her friend.  “Devin.”  As Alexandra nodded, she cursed.  Her brother, through marriage to the woman riding beside her, was intended for the throne.   A poison no one could understand or combat took his life and left Christiana to rule in his stead.  Many of the realm’s nobles whispered about her competence.  The whispers were enough to shake the most confident ruler.  Twins in their realm were rare.  Twins among the royal houses were more so.  All their lives she and her brother occupied each other’s minds with a bond gifted to twins by Fate.

Even now, Christiana reached for him out of habit.  When she hit the wall where his presence once existed, it was an aching, painful reminder of what she had lost.  “Christi.” Alexandra interrupted her thoughts on patient tones.  The ebb and flow of the woman’s emotions were understandable.  “The answer is never as easy as it seems.  Forgive yourself.”  At the Queen’s puzzled expression, Alexandra smiled and continued.  “You are alive.  You are achieving the dreams he would have wanted.  You have nothing to be afraid of. You have not failed him now, or ever.  We could not save him.”  Alexandra reached across and grasped Christiana’s gloved hand.

“Have you forgiven yourself, Alexandra?”  Pain flashed in Christi’s azure eyes as she shot the question back.  In a way, the Sorceress’ serenity piqued her anger.   “How did you learn to let go of his expectations? Of losing him?” That anger brought tears and when Alexandra grasped her hand, Christiana’s tightened on the reins.  Long ago, Christiana though she had laid to rest this mutual pain but now, the feelings surfaced.

“I have. I fight to live out the dream he would have wanted for our realm. So have you.”  The anger struck Alexandra as harshly as a physical blow.  Thank the Light two layers of leather lay between them.  Direct contact with Christiana would be far more forceful.  The touch also encouraged the natural clairvoyance that was a part of her family heritage.  “I learned with time. Your blow was so close, so fresh.  Forgive yourself for surviving, my Queen.  Devin would have long ago.  You have long since lived up to and surpassed his dreams. The court’s whispers be damned.”     Alex felt the tension leave her friend as she spoke and was saddened to see the tears dripping from Christi’s lashes.  When Devin Morningstar was killed, Alexandra lost a loved one but Christi lost a lifetime companion.  A sibling she had warred with, laughed with and grown with.   “Come on, let’s walk.”

The two women slid from the saddle and led their horses.   Rain would be on them soon but perhaps a good soaking was what they both needed.  “You have accomplished what he only dreamed of Christi.  You brought us together. You taught us through your patience and grace what it was to lead. Those hands in the dark want to forgive you, pushing you to move forward.  That is what you fear.”

Heartache choked Christi’s throat as she responded.  “And what if I forget him?” Alexandra’s laughter, though warm and not unkind, snapped Christi’s head up to look at her friend.

“Never, my dearest. Not in this life or any other will you forget one so beloved.  The Light would never allow such an atrocity.  You will always see him in your memories….in your children’s faces.  Believe me.”   Alexandra shook her head and chuckled again when the woman’s auburn brow perked at mention of children.  “I have not seen clearly, my Queen, but the Morningstar line does not end with you.”   Thunder cut their conversation short and, soon enough both women mounted their horses and began the journey back to the palace.  Alexandra only hoped her consolation was enough to soothe the woman’s worries.

 

Touch

Soundtrack provided by:  Lindsey Stirling, Beyond the Veil, Lifehouse, Unknown

Today’s inspiration brought to you by this week’s writing prompt on The Figment.  If you’re a writer in search of the occasional outburst of inspiration,  check it out.  My last blog post was inspired by these amazing folks.  For folks that know these characters, this will be a treat. For those that don’t,  please enjoy the writing.

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Whose hands reached for her in the troubled darkness? Were those hands beloved echoes of the past, the present or her future?

Just before dawn, Christiana Morningstar woke with a startled gasp.  Early morning birdsong greeted her ears yet, for the first few moments, she did not acknowledge their existence.  Darkness shadowed the daylight shining through her windows.  “Just a dream…” She murmured as she sat up in her bed.   The palace would soon be abuzz with activity, she knew.   The Queen of Maeseloria rose from her bed and donned a robe over her nightgown in haste.  She would miss her morning ride if she did not hurry.

After a few minutes seated before her vanity, her breathing slowed and the shell-shocked look began to fade from her sky-shaded eyes.   Running her brush through her sleep tousled auburn locks eased her rushed mind.  As she calmed, she began to reflect on the options her dreams presented.  A hand appeared out of the darkness.  Whether the gesture offered comfort or chaos, she could not determine.  She did not know if it offered harm or help yet she instinctively understood the decision would require a leap of faith from her.  A leap of faith she was not certain she could take.

“You know, Sunspot…”  A well-loved and familiar voice intruded on her inner reflections and, for the second time within an hour, Christiana Morningstar stifled a scream that would have brought her guards running. “Those heavy dreams aren’t meaningless.”  Jaylor Vincenzo swung in off the balcony with an ease that had Christi shaking her head.  Years ago, the man stepped into fill her murdered brother’s shoes.  In essence the once-assassin and occasional thief saved her life.  “And you should not be sleeping with your balcony doors open.  Even in times of peace, people want your lovely head on a platter.”

Christi sighed as she began to plait her hair for the morning.  Her glare reflected in the mirror as he approached and flopped into the chair by her vanity with that same uncanny grace that seemed to course through his veins.  He was her dearest friend and ally.  The realm as they knew it would not exist without him. “Based on your reports, the better question would be who doesn’t?” Her dreams were her business and she had no intention of sharing.

Jay gave her a hard look.  “Stop leaving the doors open, please.”  The man asked for little from the realm to which he sacrificed so much.  When she nodded her agreement, his smile returned.   “Do you want to talk about it?” He sighed in response to her negative answer.  “Fine, talk to Alex about them. See if she can help you interpret them.” This was not the first or the fifth time he returned to check on her and found her in a scattered state. “For me.”

Christiana’s lips thinned to a line.  “Very well. I will.”  Before he left her,  they spoke of his last covert mission to the South.  Her cousins were mobilizing and he also mentioned he would need to speak to their resident sorceress about another matter before she sent him on another mission.  Jaylor Vincenzo was the driving force behind the realm’s  covert operations unit.  Many lives were saved by the information he provided.  In the same vein, he acted as her blade to remove opposition.   At times, she worried for the blood on his hands.

After he departed, she began to dress for her morning ride.  Perhaps daylight would offer clarity.  Would that touch be her salvation or damnation?

 

 

What have you done today?

Soundtrack provided by:  Heather Small,  Proud,  Sara Bareilles,  Brave

Current Reading: The Millenium Series,  Stieg Larsson

So I am starting a new addition to the blog, above each blog post will be the “soundtrack provided by” that influenced the idea and whatever I may be sticking my nose in at the time.  I am an avid reader and if you have any questions about the books I’m reading or are curious to track them down yourself,  please leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I’m delighted to discuss.

In the last couple weeks, I have found myself inspired by a group of writers I more or less fell into thanks to a coworker.  The group is a bunch of writers, bloggers, and poets who are extremely passionate about what they do. That passion sparks me.  So, to start today’s blog, I’d love to give a shout-out to The Figment Writers and the group’s amazing creator, Mia. This group has been an absolute blessing and I recommend it to any writer who would love to network and get to know some highly creative, awesome people.

With that being said,  the group has a weekly writing prompt that have gotten my creative juices going in a variety of ways.  The first week was an Oscar Wilde quote that had got my  brain going and this week, the prompt was a simple word. Triumph.

So this got me thinking.  People make a pretty big deal about my published work. I’ve never signed with a publishing company and have basically stayed self-published.  I made this choice for a variety of reasons—the first and foremost being that I just don’t have the time to devote.  I realize that more now that I have met writers who treat their writing as their profession.  I applaud those that that can dedicate themselves. I just don’t know if I will ever be at a point in my life where I can do that and provide for my family.  Time only knows what the cards hold.  God knows I’m still figuring it out sometimes.

At any rate, back to Triumph.

Feelings of triumph are difficult for me because I take so very many things in stride.  I never take the time to absorb those triumphs or value the accomplishment itself.  In fact, my spouse occasionally has to force me to take time off.

Flashback four years.

I published my first book,  Maeseloria: Birth of Light through CreateSpace in 2012. My celebration was diving into the next story and continuing my next body of work.   The funny part about this is that I just didn’t see it as that big of a deal. Writing is something I love, something I do,  so the natural transition to me was just to keep telling the story.

And then I told someone I did it and promptly watched their face light up and proceed to lose their mind about the whole affair.  For the record, nothing embarrasses me faster than getting excited about my accomplishments to my face.  Mind you,  this person then also went out on our company people page and announced to the company what I had done.   The next month was a series of red-faced, stammering explanations to the question I am never quite comfortable answering:  “What do you write about?”

Three books later, I’m better about that .  I have felt elated, nervous, terrified, giddy and overjoyed about finishing a piece, publishing my work but triumph was never in my wheelhouse of emotions about my books. The prompt got me thinking. Well, why the hell shouldn’t I feel triumphant?  Between the four books, I’m looking at almost 1100 pages of words and a world that I created.  I should, to quote my best friend,  own that shit.  In the last four years I have accomplished things other writers only dream of.

Will I ever be a millionaire like most people perceive successful writers to be? No, probably not.  Other people’s perception of success has never been my driving force and probably never will be.

To me, that’s not the triumph of writing. The triumph is bringing your ideas to life.  The triumph to me is seeing your message, your characters touch people.  To me the triumph is when a reader gets mad at me over an event in the book.  To me, the triumph is writing a scene that brings a reader to tears because it touched them. (True story, the crier in question was my own mother to boot.)

I don’t know if I’ll ever be what society deems a “successful writer” to be. I don’t care. I get to tell my stories. I get to put to paper a world I have only ever dreamed about.  That’s triumph.  That’s what makes me proud.

What are your triumphs?

Quiet

I would love to tell you all this blog would be all about writing all the time but let’s face it, life happens.

Every year my husband, daughter and I participate in a local event called the Glass City Marathon. Specifically, we walk the 5k.  The event has become a family tradition 3 years strong. We have little things we do every year to commemorate the race. Normally, breakfast is involved and we sit around and laugh about the morning.  This year, my daughter and I decided to do something a little different.  At the expo before the race, we came across the booth belonging to a local artist who makes bead bracelets from local materials. If you’re unfamiliar with our area,  the material is called Lake Erie glass. The glass can be found from remnants at the bottom of the lake from multipe occurences;  shipwrecks, littering.

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So I told that story, to tell this one. This morning, during the 5k I had an “ah-ha” moment.  Just after sunrise; freezing my butt off and a lightbulb clicked.  Not a creative one, mind you but a light bulb all the same.  The years go by too fast. That was the first flicker.  I looked at my daughter, who is 15, and I realize we may not have too many more races until she’s flown the nest so to speak. That was the second flicker. Then I paused to absorb the moment.

The peace of the morning struck me and I realize that…life may not be what I want a 100 percent of the time, but damn it, I’m happy. Time may be short but every moment matters.    With my daughter and her obsessive love for being on stage and my husband and his craziness.  (Up to and including dancing like an terribly uncoordinated teenager in public.)  It’s busy,  I’m still struggling to carve out a creative niche but there’s laughter, some tears and it’s just…life. And with that, I leave you with one of my favorite movie quotes:

 

Doc Holliday: What did you ever want?
Wyatt Earp: Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There’s no normal life, Wyatt, it’s just life. Get on with it.

When was your last “ah-ha” moment?

PS. Bonus points to any fellow lover of that film.

 

 

 

News, News, News

Hello!

So a little over a month ago I blogged about this amazing site called Hometown Reads.  The media buzz has continued with an article featured in the Toledo Blade .  So many fascinating authors have been added to the site in the last month.  I cannot encourage people enough to invest in local authors; local business.  Those little things, to me, build a village so to speak.

With that being said,  I am happy to share that Hometown Reads is expanding beyond the Toledo community.  You can still get to the site by clicking on the badge below for authors in Toledo.

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If you live in the Cleveland or Ann Arbor area,  make sure you check out the pages for these cities. There are some fascinating books on the site.  If you know anyone that has a published book and is looking to get some exposure, these folks are absolutely fantastic in getting the word out.   My first book was sitting on the shelf since publication in 2012 and, unfortunately, I simply did not have the time to devote to the marketing aspect of our craft.  This site has given my book a new life and the lovely people I’ve networked with because of it, well..I can’t thank them enough.

So…calling all authors in the Toledo, Cleveland, Ann Arbor  areas,  they’re still taking submissions.  Also,  a little birdie told me they are accepting submissions for the Columbus, Cincinnati and Detroit areas. The submissions are limited to one book per author–so if you have friends that write series like I do,  make sure you let them know.  So support your friends and local authors! Visit the sites and share, share,  share the works you’re interested in.

And, of course, if you’re interested in my work, please check out the Books section of the site, or drop me a line through the Contact Me section of the site.  I would be delighted to hear from you!

Thoughts on creativity

Have you ever set down a project because you wrote yourself into a corner and weren’t sure how to proceed?  Months go by and you’re working on a new project, discussing it with someone and suddenly this unfinished project pops into your mind.  The genre is completely different than your typical work and you have the internal debate about putting the time in to revising it and working with it.

Have you ever treated other projects as a fun escape from the work of your writing? Or use different avenues when your characters decide they want to give you the silent treatment?  I use multiple outlets when it comes to striking characters.  The other outlets temporarily divert me but I always come back to my core writing.

The funny thing about this project?  This project distracted me for almost 50 solid pages of manuscript.  This story was supposed to be a short story but seems to evolve into a larger work. I’m okay with that.  I believe the story was one I started between Birth of Light and Duty’s Song.   The work needs some hard core revision and smoothing so we’ll see.  I have enough revision going on right now.

What other avenues do you use to give yourself a creative outlet when the writing isn’t always there?  For me, the creativity has to go somewhere.  I knit. I cook.  I make fleece blankets.  What other hobby gives your creativity somewhere to go?

In search of inspiration…

Does anyone else struggle with the question “where do you get ideas?”  Or better yet, do you struggle for inspiration when you’re stuck? Also, if you write or create, what do you do to get yourself un-stuck so to speak?

For me, these questions have always caused a moment’s reflection.  Truth be told I freeze as much at this question as I do at the question “What do you write about?”  As far ideas go,  the attack at all times, all hours and without mercy.  I usually have a little notebook or post-its  with me. If I don’t,  I have digital access to google docs or my Quick-Memo on my phone. As a writer,  many times that faucet of creativity is either running full blast or completely off.  I am not sure about other writers but for me it’s one extreme or another.

I am learning that carving out my writing time for a set time of day helps when the faucet’s off.  I would love to tell any of you that want to have this that it works when you have a full time job, a family and more obligations than I want to put to paper at the moment.  A wise friend advised in her blog that boundaries and being true to your writing time is important.  (If you’d like to read the full post and check out her work,  go here.) Like all things, this is a work in progress.

So when the faucet’s off, what do you do to get the pump running again?  I listen to music. Go for a walk.  Brainstorm with a friend. Music tends to be the medium that speaks to me most.  I range from instrumental such as Lindsey Stirling or A Break of Reality to Linkin Park,  My Chemical Romance,  Lifehouse or Sam Smith.   Feel free to sound off on the comments below.   If you want to sample any of the artists I’ve listed, also give me a shout out.  I’d be happy to share.

Have an amazing weekend everyone!

Who likes free stuff?

Hi everyone!

“I hate free stuff.” Said no one ever. So for those that have expressed an interest in my work, I am giving away two signed copies of my first book, Maeseloria: Birth of Light. All you have to do to win is head on over to my author page on Facebook,  follow the instructions and you’ll be entered to win one copy of the book.  You can get to my Facebook author page by going here.   Good luck! Thank you for your interest!

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