Thought I would save those precious electrons that power the interwebs and kill two cover reveals with one blog post. Let me know what you think!
Khirro’s Journey: The Complete Trilogy
Release date: April 25
A coward. A king. A curse. A quest.
Follow the fate of Khirro, a farmer who never wanted be anything more, on a quest to save a kingdom. All three books of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy–Blood of the King, Spirit of the King and Heart of the King–available in one volume. The series has been called “an excellent adventure, “incredible”, “the best read in a very long time” and “a masterpiece” by satisfied readers. Thousands have joined Khirro and his companions on their adventure through haunted lands, in their defiance of scheming magicians, and their fight against an army of the dead. Now is your chance to take up the journey and live the adventure.
The Handmaid (The Lady Corsairs Part 2)
Erotica from Miss Rosie Bitts with Mr. Bitts
Release Date: May 1
The adventures of Anna and Margot–the Lady Corsairs–continue.
After being left behind on a pirate ship filled with cut-throat corsairs, Margot has only the handsome and dangerous Billy the Bone to turn to for help and protection. But at what price will his protection come? With hundreds of miles of the Mediterranean Sea separating Margot from the life she once knew, it seems a journey across the sea isn’t the only journey the handmaid is set to take.
Rosie Bitts is a burlesque diva, chanteuse, impresario and sex in heels. When you’re known as the “Libido of Burlesque”, writing erotica is the next logical step.
Rosie is a performer, producer, keynote speaker, and writer of her multiple award-winning one woman play, “The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts”. She was named a “Notable Canadian Woman” by the National Post, and award-winning author Cherie Priest called her “…the real deal and the whole package.” She has performed all over North America, is the founder of Best Bitts Productions, and is excited to be sharing her sexy with the world through literature.
Mr. Bitts is the pseudonym of best-selling fantasy author Bruce Blake. His Khirro’s Journey epic fantasy trilogy was awarded the Life Changing Read Award by author and reviewer Ella Medler, and his first novel, urban fantasy On Unfaithful Wings, was a semi-finalist for the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012. Life as the trophy husband of a burlesque diva has led Bruce to many places he never expected to go, so it wasn’t a surprise when Rosie wanted to team up to write historical erotica, and the Lady Corsairs were born.
The holiday season is behind us. Gifts were given, parties attended, celebrations celebrated and resolutions made. I know for a fact it’s done, because today I took my Christmas tree to be recycled and tomorrow (Monday) my daughter heads back to school. There are no surer signs of the close of the yuletide season.
I’ve already seen a number of other authors welcome the new year on their blogs, so I guess I’m a few days behind, but I wanted to share with everyone what is in store for the coming year.
First off, I want to be clear that I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest: a resolution these days seems to suggest imminent failure. I drove past a church the other day, and the sign outside said “May your troubles this year be as short as your resolutions.” If a church can’t have faith, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Instead of resolutions, my wife and I partake in a New Year’s eve ritual in which we observe the past year, noting gains and losses and clearing resentments, and then set goals and intentions for the coming year. The difference between a goal and a resolution is that a goal must be specific, measurable and involve a deadline. For instance, you may have a resolution to lose weight, but your goal might be to lose 10 pounds by March 1. A resolution is to finish your novel; a goal is to have the first draft complete by Feb. 1, personal edits completed by March 1 and the book published by April 1.
The other thing that gives power to goals is accountability, and to have accountability, your goals must be shared with others. So here I am to share.
My two main goals for writing this year are to publish four more full-length novels in my usual genre (fantasy) and a minimum of six other projects that I will publish in other genres under pen names. Let’s deal with the novels first.
#2 novel for the year is the third Icarus Fell Novel (Secrets of the Hanged Man). I wrote 50000 words of this for NaNoWriMo and will be retooling and adding to it for April 1 release.
#3 novel is an epic fantasy I’ve been wanting to write for years. The basic outline is in place and I actually have a bit written, but I will likely start again from the beginning. Aug. 1 release.
#4 novel is another epic fantasy, the idea for which recently wormed its way into my head where it lives, nattering in my ear. At this point I don’t know if it will be a one-off or a series, though I have my suspicions that, once I get into the story, there will be a lot more to it than I might think. Dec. 1 release, in time for Christmas.
As for the minimum six other projects (I say minimum because I currently only have one planned and a vague idea for the others, so I am unsure of their lengths), the first will be completed by the end of this month and ready for publication. The others will be published every other month, or perhaps quicker. This goal will be updated and adjusted as I find out exactly what it is I’ll be writing.
On top of this, there will be the three parts of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy released in one volume, an omnibus edition of the first three Icarus novels, and I am about to re-release all my short stories as individual quick-reads for 99 cents each.
All of this is leading to my ultimate goal: a minimum of 25000 ebooks sold this year.
If you would like to follow along with my progress, tune in to the blog every once in a while, or you can follow this link and sign up for my newsletter (another goal for the year being fulfilled).
See you next time!
I have a great life. I’m married to a wonderful woman (who is a top burlesque performer), I have two great children, and I spend my days writing, editing, and doing other facets of business related to the production/publishing company my wife and I run together. I love my life, but still I get jealous of others at times. When I met Autumn Birt, who writes a great travel blog called No Map Nomads, I felt that twinge as the green monster reared its ugly head. Then, earlier this week, she released her new book Danger Peligros and I assisted by posting an excerpt. Reading it, my thirst for adventure travel disappeared…I’m more of a hotels and room service kind of guy, it turns out.
Let’s join Weifarer and Raven for another adventure to keep me in my place.
What are Peligros? That is a tough one to explain. They are the best and the worst of your day, travel, life. They are what draws us out from safe and comfy homes – the little itches that make such abodes feel too confining, too much the same. They are the essence of that moment when everything has gone horribly wrong and you are left thankful to be alive with parts that still add up to a functional whole. They are that moment when someone you don’t know lends you an unexpected, warm hand. They are when your luck goes from nonexistent to good, because you wouldn’t need good luck if things hadn’t looked scary for a time, now would you?
You know what a Peligro is, only you just didn’t know what to call it.
Raven and I have been traveling since we met on Martha’s Vineyard oh-so-many years ago now. From those early days barely surviving learning to sail on Vineyard Sound to more recent motorcycle trips through the Canadian Maritimes, we’ve had our share of trouble and of luck. Danger Peligros! collects some of those stories of our misadventures so that when you follow a Peligro out the door, you might be a little better informed!
How NOT to Cross Vineyard Sound
Ignorance protects the foolish and the young. And boy, were we lucky it did! This nearly unsuccessful crossing of Vineyard Sound taught us to laugh at our mistakes – once we were sure we were going to live to tell about them.
We were both wrong. Raven was right: we should have left earlier. I was certainly right and we definitely should have stopped in Oak Bluffs for gas. Beyond that, there was so much we didn’t have a clue about it was only the powers that protect the foolish and young that got us safely back to the mainland. Ignorance is bliss, especially if what you are ignorant of is the knife’s edge of success or death.
The sailboat was a beat up and well used MacGreggor 25. Bought on Martha’s Vineyard, we had lived aboard it for two months while working on the island. We’d sailed it exactly twice. The second time we had broken a block due to improper rigging of a boat which we knew absolutely nothing about. We had a lot of theories though.
Anchored in Katama Bay, we were off the charts, away from marinas and anyone who would have given us practical advice. Like the charts were way wrong and the outgoing tide was far above the listed 4 knots. And maybe our “chart” should have been more than a fancy waterproof placemat anyway. Or that maybe we should have rigged the boat correctly before trying to motor across to Cape Cod, just in case we had to use the sail. But no, we were alone with just a few clammers fishing the muddy sand at low tide, the sea gulls, our haphazard sailboat, and ignorant bliss.
It was only mid-summer, but we needed to leave the Vineyard early. Time to raise anchor and head up to Maine, literally. Of course, we weren’t crazy enough to sail THAT far. We were going to just putt across Vineyard Sound, pull the boat in Woods Hole, and tow it up to Maine. The crossing is only 8 miles of open water. Heck, you can see the mainland from Martha’s Vineyard. This wasn’t the English Channel. How hard could it be?
I wonder if we even checked the tide chart the day before? I mean, we knew that much. If the tide was low enough, the boat actually ended up grounded. Surely we would have planned ahead to ensure we had sufficient water to begin our journey? Still, we woke up to a thump. A shift in the current had bumped the hull against the quickly approaching sand bottom. Today was the day we were supposed to leave. The Jeep was already waiting in Woods Hole with the trailer. A few hours delay could put us too late to cross and would mean parking tickets. We were out of bed and looking over the side at the disappearing water. Raven pulled the anchors and started the engine while I put in my contact lenses.
Is that when we realized the gas tank wasn’t full? You would have thought we’d check that before we left. Better, before we drove our only method of land transportation off island so that if we’d realized our gas oversight, we would not have had to hitch a ride to a gas station. But no, by the time we hefted the gas tank, realized it was half full, calculated the usage of the 9.9 outboard and figured . . . we could make it, just, we were already underway.
Now, as slightly more cognizant adults, we would have probably realized that two mistakes don’t make a right, the fates were against us, and let’s just try again tomorrow. But in your twenties, you figure you can wing it. Our guardian angels must have never thought they’d manage to get us through to our thirties!
I smoothly motored us out of Katama Bay and by Edgartown. Our thoughts were on the summer, wondering when we’d see the Vineyard again and be able to spend time on our favorite beaches. The fact that we were heading out into the Sound on an outgoing tide racing to meet the Atlantic Ocean with a half tank of gas and broken rigging never entered our heads.
As Oak Bluffs came into view, the white gazebo painted vividly in the sunny field of grass, I did suggest that we could swing into the marina there for gas. But as we’d traveled up the western side of the Vineyard, we hadn’t encountered any problems. We just needed to round the tip, jump across the Sound, dive through the hole in the Elizabethan Islands between Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound and we could call it good. Why get even more off schedule for a pit stop in Oak Bluffs?
We knew the hole could be tricky. The current funneling between the islands created a wave as the water backed up against the rocky barrier before whipping past and out to sea. Still, things had been going well and we continued past the northern tip of Martha’s Vineyard and pointed the bow directly northeast and into the outgoing tide.
The island had protected us until that moment. But her embrace was now behind us. Our 25-foot boat took the full force of the current directly into her bow. We opened up the 9.9 half way, then three-quarters. The engine strained. The gas gurgled.
The island had also protected us from the wind. Now there was a slight breeze. Boats far ahead of us, almost to the mainland along the ferry route, were heeled over in the wind. We thought we could try the same thing. Raise the sail and motor forward. It would save gas and should work.
Except for that darn busted rigging. Well, the term “jury rigging” was obviously developed on a sailboat. Raven played a rope rerouting dance and we eased back on the throttle. Two things happened. We slipped next to and then a little behind the bell buoy we’d managed to force our way beyond ten minutes before. We weren’t even holding ground. We were losing. And the other thing is the ferry came.
Did I mention that Vineyard Sound can seem as busy as a water expressway? Fishing boats, pleasure boats, Coast Guard, research vessels, commuters, and really big ferry boats all ply the channel. And we were in the middle of the ferry route losing a battle with the tide.
A 25-foot boat feels about the size of a golf ball orbiting the moon next to a car ferry. Plankton had a better chance of fighting the whale about to swallow it than we did of making the ferry move. We just were not going to win that competition even if “vessels under sail” have the right of way. We hauled ass, kicked the motor to full 9.9 horse power and got the heck out of the way.
Which left us on fumes in the middle of the channel. But hey, the sail was raised! We called a boat tow company who offered to come to our aid with a can of gas for a mere $300. We were broke college student twenty-somethings. The offer didn’t feel like a rescue, but more like extortion for idiocy.
We declined and looked at each other as the engine gave a shuddering sputter and the bow threatened to turn to run with the tide. Well, why not? We had the whole arm of the Cape to make landfall. Woods Hole wasn’t the only game in town even if the Jeep was there. And let’s face it, we were never going to make it through the rocks and into Buzzard’s Bay if we couldn’t even beat the tide mid-channel.
We cut the engine and pivoted the boat into the waves. Who needs gas? This was a sailboat after all. Raven took over and angled the boat along the coast, dancing her with the swells. A small group of yacht club kids doing regatta runs made it all look so easy. But by then, we were near the sweep of the cape and protected from the worse of the tide.
Sans engine, Raven sailed up Falmouth Harbor and docked us in front of the gas tank. I was never so happy to be tied to something in my life. We filled the tank, dropped the jury-rigged sail, and motored further east to the Green Pond boat ramp. It was nearly deserted, had a gently angled ramp unlike Woods Hole, and we could take all the time we needed to get situated and pull the boat. Which was good, because Raven had to take a taxi back to Woods Hole to get the trailer and Jeep!
We survived but it was important lesson in how alone you really are, even when surrounded by a sea full of people. No one stopped to help us. Our first reliance was on each other. It took both of us to cross Vineyard Sound. That and an absolute ton of luck!
Explore the best moments, mischief, and mayhem from the adventure travel website No Map Nomads. Whether by boot, by (motor)bike, by boat, or by whatever it takes, Raven and Weifarer will take you along to experience trips from sublime to nearly disastrous. With serendipity tucked into the saddlebags along with some capricious Peligros, every turn leads to the unexpected.
This book includes the complete story arc to Cruise Ship Mutiny, the Cabot Trail on motorcycle, memories of the first motorbike trip to Canada (in October no less), hikes on tropical islands and much more.
Find it on Amazon
It’s been a while since the last time I posted (over 2 weeks if you don’t count Emily Ward taking things over for a day).
“Why?” you might wonder aloud, and rightfully so. “Why would an independent author who relies so much on interaction with people to sell books neglect his blog for an extended period? It says right in the name of the blog: struggling writer. Perhaps this is why, Bruce.”
Perhaps. But I do have an excuse and, in my world, at least, it’s a doozie.
You see, on the 3rd of October, 2012, I lost my job. Suddenly, inexplicably, with no notice or hint, I found myself unemployed. Not laid off. Not downsized. The business didn’t close. No, the owners decided I no longer fit with their plans anymore and cut me a pretty decent cheque to stop working for them. It didn’t just catch me off-guard, but everyone I worked with, especially the dozen or so people who asked me when I’d be getting the general manager’s position when he quit just a few months before.
Now I know conventional wisdom says that I should be all broken up about being “let go”, perhaps take a couple of days off, then beat the pavement to find another job, but I don’t want to live that conventional life. In fact, I haven’t wanted to live it for quite some time. My wife and I (for those of you who don’t know me and haven’t bothered to read the about page, my wife is a bit of a big deal burlesque performer here in Victoria) have been scheming for a while trying to figure out how to get me out of a job and into the things I really want to do. And now it has been thrust upon me. The universe works in mysterious ways.
I’m convinced the owner has had a few moments of ponderment in which he thought to himself “why did I do that again?”. Because the universe made you.
So you’re probably thinking to yourself: “What’s in it for me?” The answer is the same for you as it is for me: more and better. Let me give you some examples:
Over the last 3 days (that’s Fri-Sun as I write this) I wrote over 12500 words on my current work-in-progress. That’s more than I would have written in 3 weeks before the days of miracle and wonder began. That means the first draft of Spirit of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 2), which I was hoping to finish by mid-November, could be done as early as the end of this week (the end of next at the latest). Finishing that means I can get started on the next Icarus Fell novel (Secrets of the Hanged Man - I’ve been planning), not to mention the YA fantasy I’ve been aching to do, and the fairy story I want to write with my 11-year-old daughter, and the one about the guy with no magic, and…I digress.
Today, I took the day off from writing. I didn’t take the day off, however. Instead, I finished formatting all three of my novels for CreateSpace, so as soon as I can get my cover guy to format the covers for print, they will be available. And I did some research and planning for an erotica website my wife and I want to do. And I researched better ways to promo. And I wrote two blog posts. And I researched how to make my blog and my social media better. I even folded the laundry.
All of this time, all of this focus, means more novels, better posts, higher quality. I can spend time looking for ways to help other people. Things are going to be different around here. It’s good for me and it’s good for you. It all starts with my very next post when I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: review a book. And watch for the name of my blog to change. I’m done with struggling.
So you see, dear friends, the unfortunate incident of me being ‘retired’ is not unfortunate at all. It’s the beginning of something wonderful. Truly, these are the days of miracle and wonder.
The Protectors Blog Tour: Excerpt from Promising Hope
Hey, everyone! I’m Emily, and my YA Epic Fantasy series The Protectors is “touring” around the web right now. I had an excerpt for Promising Hope planned for this stop, and I struggled to find one that didn’t spoil the ending of the first book, Promising Light! I think I found a pretty good one, though.
* * *
Sierra and Evan walked through the castle to the north wing, where the meetings had been taking place. The castle furnishings were colorful and bright. Though most of the decor was saved for the rooms, the various corridors walls had murals painted on the stone walls. The one they walked through to the meeting was covered in a mural of Jolenian history: battle scenes, kings and queens in throne rooms.
When they entered the meeting room, Sierra saw most of the elders sat at the table, save Nilee and Bea. An assortment of other Avialies were present, as well, including Adrian and Caleb.
“Thank you for joining us, Sierra,” Jeshro said. “I thought you might want to be involved in this. At the very least, you should know about it.”
“About what?” Sierra asked. She took her usual spot, the seat to the right of Jeshro, who was at the head of the table. Evan sat next to her.
Jeshro stood up and placed his hands on the table, looking at the others. “Based on the memories we’ve shared with Sierra, we know who cursed the Avialies.”
Someone gasped; the group leaned forward, instantly more intrigued.
“He’s still alive, and we need to prevent the curse from happening again,” Jeshro said. “If the Protectors find out the curse is broken, they may try to contact this Thieran again.”
“Who is it?” Adrian hissed.
“I’ll only reveal his identity to the men who will join the unit to find him.”
“We all will,” Adrian said. He looked around the table, and the men nodded in agreement.
Sierra noticed Lisbeth was the only woman. These men were going to find the Thieran and then what? She considered it for a moment, but after looking at the determined faces, she didn’t have to ask. Her eyes widening, she looked at Evan, who gazed at Jeshro with a grim look.
“I need a definite answer,” Jeshro said. “This unit will be going back into Haltar, where this man lives. They’ll be up against the Protectors, and if anyone is kidnapped. . .well, we can’t let valuable information reach the Protectors.”
Sierra touched Evan’s hand. “Evan,” she whispered.
He made no motion that he even noticed her hand touching him. She gritted her teeth and looked around the table as the men nodded again.
“We’ll do it,” Adrian said.
“Yes, Adrian, I understand you’re willing, but you’re not the spokesperson for everyone here,” Jeshro said. “I need individual vows.”
“Vows that what?” Sierra asked, taking her hand from Evan’s. “That they’ll kill themselves if they’re kidnapped?”
“If that’s what it has to be, then yes,” Jeshro said.
“That’s the only solution you can think of? What about paired Cosa magic?”
Jeshro gave her a smile like she was a child. “That doesn’t work with any two people, and we’d need a fairly strong Cosa to do that.”
“What about Matilda?” Sierra asked.
Jeshro shook his head. “Even if she were able, I wouldn’t ask it of her.”
“But you’d ask your own blood relatives to go on a suicide mission?”
“There’s every chance at succeeding—”
Sierra scoffed. “You think the Protectors are just going to let a group of assassins take out their most powerful Thieran? He’s probably guarded and kept at the palace; he probably has been for years.”
“We’re going to consider everything, Sierra.”
“If you really are, then there’s no need to ask your men to kill themselves if they get taken hostage.”
“That is the extreme. I need to be sure of the fealty of everyone in this room, even in the most extreme circumstances.” Jeshro splayed his hands out in front of him. “Does that please you?”
Sierra gritted her teeth. “I will be pleased when I’m sure you’ve done all you can to protect my husband and the other men here.”
* * *
If you want to read more, be sure to check out the series at Amazon or any other ebook retailer.
This blog tour is about halfway done and we still have tons of fun stuff in store. Tomorrow, I’ll be with Kristen at Seeing Night Reviews where I’ll have one more excerpt of Promising Hope as well as journal entries from the main character. Come visit me!
Oh, and if you missed the last few posts:
Meet the Author
Genre-Bending: If Promising Light Wasn’t Fantasy
My Characters’ Favorite Books
If Promising Light Were Set In Modern Day
Promising Hope’s Book Soundtrack
Promising Light Excerpt
If you’d like a chance to win the books, enter the giveaway here! Here’s what’s up for grabs:
(1) $15 Amazon Gift Card
(5) Protectors Ebook Packages (Shifting Light, Fire and Light, The End of Light, Promising Light, and Promising Hope)
(1) Protectors Paperback Package (Promising Light and Promising Hope)
Also, you can comment on these posts and other stops on the tour or follow blogs participating in the tour to gain more entries! Hope to see you around
Emily Ann Ward is the author of Passages, Beyond Home, Finding Fiona, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. When it comes to fiction, she writes mainly young adult, contemporary, and fantasy. She also writes nonfiction, ranging from stories of her travels to thoughts on God and the Bible. Aside from writing, she’s also a content editor for Entranced Publishing. She loves reading, traveling, sociology, religion, and Reese’s sticks. Currently, she lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Chris and their crazy cats. Visit her website at emilyannward.com.
Less than two weeks until the release of Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 1), so here’s the first sneak peek — Chapter 1. Let me know what you think.
Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 1)
A kingdom torn by war. A curse whispered by dying lips. A hero born against his will.
Khirro never wanted to be anything more than the farmer he was born to be, but a Shaman’s curse binds him to the fallen king and his life changes forever.
Driven by the Shaman’s dying words, Khirro’s journey pits him against an army of the dead, sends him through haunted lands, and thrusts him into the jaws of beasts he wouldn’t have believed existed. In one hand he carries the Shaman’s enchanted sword, a weapon he can barely use; in the other he holds a vial of the king’s blood, the hope of the kingdom. His destination: the Necromancer’s keep in the cursed land of Lakesh. Only the mysterious outlaw magician can raise the king from the dead to save them all from the undead invasion, but can Khirro live long enough to deliver the vial?
Can a coward save a kingdom?
Excerpt: Blood of the King
Wispy smoke floated across an otherwise unspoiled sky, marring it, capturing his attention, bringing him to focus. He realized there was nothing but sky and the smudge of gray—no smells, no sounds, nothing.
Smells returned first, all of them familiar—dirt and stone and dust, the scents of his life that had always been there.
The farm, then. I’m on the farm.
That didn’t feel right, didn’t explain the streak of smoke. Memories were faint, distant, as though seen through the wrong end of an eyeglass. It couldn’t be the farm, he’d left home months before…but for where?
Sound crept back into Khirro’s world. A man’s voice floated to him on the summer air, then more voices—not shouts of reverie but cries of anger and pain. Like a dam bursting, the clash of metal on metal added to the din.
The sounds jarred Khirro and memories flooded back like the tide filling a hole in the sand. Consciousness slammed down on him, brutal and unflinching. On his left, a sheer stone wall rose thirty feet or more; his right arm dangled over untold nothing. He moved his head to see and pain flooded his body, filling every joint and crevice, leaving no portion free from its touch. Something wet on his forehead and face, the taste of blood on his swollen tongue. The feel of it all filled in the last holes in his recollection: the invasion, the fight on the wall, the king and his men coming to his rescue. He’d tried to fight alongside the elite knights, but he was only a farmer forced to dress up in armor and wear a sword.
There’d be no harvest this year, not for him.
He spat weakly to clear his mouth; bloody saliva ran down his cheek into his ear. Ragged breath caught in his throat as he remembered the warrior breaching the wall, a huge man dressed in closed helm and black chain mail splashed red—paint or blood, Khirro couldn’t tell. The man easily bested him, forced him back until he stumbled over a fallen knight. He recalled the fellow’s pained groan as his foot struck his ribs, then he was tumbling end over end down the stairs, desperate to keep from going over the edge to the courtyard seventy feet below.
So that’s where he was—lying on the first landing, precariously close to death, as King Braymon and his guard defended the fortress from a Kanosee army.
Everything hurt: back, arms and legs, hips. His head pounded. Warm blood oozed down his forehead from above his hairline. His throat worked futilely; it was a struggle to draw breath. Instead of his lungs expanding in his chest, panic grew in their place. He’d survived a bombardment of fireballs and the first Kanosee breach of the fortress wall; how ironic it would be to die falling down the stairs.
When he could breathe again, he gasped air past the bloody taste on his tongue like a man breaking the surface of a lake after a long dive. He took inventory of his body, wiggling his fingers and toes, flexing his muscles. They hurt, every one of them, but they all worked.
What do I do now?
The thought was fuzzy, as though spoken by someone with a mouthful of cotton. Another thought came fast on the heels of the first: The king needs me. Even warriors as fierce as King Braymon of Erechania and his guard couldn’t defeat so many. He wanted to get up and rush to his king’s side, to stand against the enemy, but more than the pains in his body kept him from it.
He thought of Emeline, and of his unborn child. His heart contracted.
Idiot! All you had to do was push over a couple of ladders. What kind of soldier are you?
He was no soldier, that was the answer. Spade and hoe were his tools, horse and plow, not sword and dirk and catapult. But he had a duty, and he’d made a promise to Jowyn before the hellfire claimed his life. Khirro scrambled away from the edge; his head smacked the stone landing sending a fresh jolt of pain through his temples.
I don’t want to end up like Jowyn.
Fighting sounds tumbled over the edge of the walk thirty feet above, carried to Khirro on a hot summer breeze that petered out long before it reached him. The thought of King Braymon and his guards fighting for their lives filled him with guilt. He heard the king’s voice call for aid. Someone answered, far away and small, and Khirro felt relief. The clangs and clatters intensified and the king called out again, but this time his cry cut short. Khirro gasped and held his breath, waiting for a sign of what had happened.
He should be at the king’s side, repelling invaders. He was no one’s equal with a weapon, but another sword was a sword nonetheless. Pain flared as he tensed his muscles and his body tilted dangerously in the direction of the painful death awaiting at the bottom of the wall. He scrambled a few inches away from the edge, sweat beading on his brow, leather breast piece scraping on stone stair. A couple of deep breaths pained his ribs but slowed his racing heart. Part of him wondered if he could just stay there, wait for the battle to end. His sword arm would be of such little use to the king, anyway, perhaps more of a hindrance. Live to fight another day, as the saying went. His father, a lifetime farmer who never hefted a sword, would said that was a coward’s saying. His father still considered himself the best judge of such things, but ever since the accident that cost him his arm, everything Khirro did made him a coward, or useless, or no good.
He wouldn’t prove his father right.
Khirro stared up the wall at the sky, its promise of summer seeming so far away now. He gathered his strength, drew a few short, sharp breaths. The muscles in his shoulders and back bunched painfully. He stopped and released them, allowing his body to go limp again as a figure appeared at the edge of the wall above.
The angle and distance made it difficult to see the man until he leaned forward and peered directly down at Khirro. The black breastplate splashed with red made him unmistakably the same man who nearly killed him. Khirro stared up, mimicking a corpse, as anger filled his chest, partially directed at the invader for his actions, partly at himself for playing the coward his father accused him of being.
The man disappeared from sight, but only long enough for Khirro to release his held breath and half-draw another. When he returned, the Kanosee warrior held a limp form in his arms. Sunlight glinted on steel plate as, impossibly, he hefted the armored body above his head, presenting it to the heavens as if an offering to the Gods.
Something caught the man’s attention and he looked away for a second then hurriedly, ungracefully, heaved the body over the edge.
Time slowed as the limp body twisted through the air toward Khirro. He saw the blood caked on lobstered gauntlets, dents and scuffs on silver plate.,an enameled pattern scrolling across the top of the breastplate. The armor seemed familiar but his pounding head gave no help in recognizing it as the limp form tumbled toward him.
At the last moment, instinct overpowered shock, fear and pain, and Khirro rolled to the right, teetering dangerously on the landing’s edge. The body hit the stone floor beside him.
The slam of armor against stone was nearly deafening, but not loud enough to mask the sickening pop of bones snapping within. The body bounced once and came to rest, some part of it pressed against Khirro’s back, threatening to push him over the precipice. He wriggled painfully away from the edge, pushing against the unmoving body behind him.
The sounds of fighting renewed. Soldiers must have pushed past the burning catapult that had barricaded them, rushing to engage the enemy and save their king.
Where were they five minutes ago?
Khirro put the thought from his mind. He lived, after all; it was more than he could say for the man lying beside him.
Khirro lay still for a minute, unsure what to do. If he stayed put, he’d forfeit his life to a Kanosee sword as surely as if he rejoined the fray. His eyes flickered from the wall walk above to the stairs. He saw no one. If there was a best time to move—to go somewhere, to do something—itwas likely now, while the enemy was freshly engaged. He turned his head, looked at the man lying dead beside him.
The man’s cheek pressed against the stone landing was curiously flat, crushed by the fall. His eyes were closed; blood ran across his closed eyelids from a gash on his clean-shaven scalp. A scrollwork of enameled ivy crawled out from the corner of his silver breastplate and across his epaulet. Khirro stopped breathing.
It was the king dead beside him, the man who had rescued him from the red-splashed Kanosee soldier, leaping into the fight to save a lowly farmer-turned-soldier without regard for his own safety.
The king. The man who ruled the kingdom.
While Khirro had chosen to cower on the landing, struggling to find his courage as others fought for the kingdom, Braymon hadn’t hesitated a second.
And now the king was dead, and there was no one to blame but Khirro.
Guilt stirred his gut. What would this mean to the kingdom? To the war? His head swam. Did this mean he could return home, or would it mean more fighting? He thought of Emeline. It was easy to remember why he hadn’t risen after his fall down the stairs when he thought of her and of the child she carried. He only wanted to return to her, to go back to the farm and live out his life in peace and quiet. If Emeline would have him back.
The clang of steel and the shouts and screams of men fell on him like violent rain. He didn’t know how long he lay there listening and thinking, mourning and celebrating, awash in guilt and remorse and relief when another sound caught his attention. He held his breath.
A footstep on the stair?
His eyes darted toward the stone steps, but he couldn’t see beyond the king’s leg twisted at an unbelievable angle. He dared not turn his head for fear a man clad in a red-splattered breast plate may be leering at him from the stair, waiting for an excuse to fall upon him and finish the job. Thirty seconds crawled by, a minute. Khirro began to think he’d heard his own breath. For a while there was only the sound of fighting, then it came again. Not a footstep, but a groan, small and weak, but close. Khirro waited, listening, hoping. Dreading. Then another sound, a whisper.
Haltingly, Khirro moved his gaze back to the face of his king, the man who saved him, the man who so many years ago, saved the entire kingdom.
He looked into the open eyes of King Braymon.
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” then he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.
Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn’t until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, “Another Man’s Shoes” was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, “Yardwork”, was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”, was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, was released in July, 2012, and “Blood of the King”, the first book in the two-part “Khirro’s Journey” epic fantasy, will be released on Sept. 30. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and a possible YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.
Here I am, taking the last few steps toward the finish line. I’m nearly exhausted, my fingers ache from keystroke after keystroke, but inside me a jubilance builds because I am going to finish.
Along the way, I scoffed at others as they dropped out, or perhaps sat out a portion of the journey on the side of the road as the rest of us passed them, kicking up dust in our wakes. “I don’t have the time for this” they said. I shook my head, pursed my lips and help back my comments only to reach the next milestone, the next week, and nearly give in myself. But I pushed on, driven to make it to the end even when I didn’t feel like continuing with taskmaster Tasha cracking the whip at my back, posting on Facebook to remind me of my assignments. Her steely eyes were always on us, pushing us, encouraging us, keeping us on track, telling us we could do it.
Regular blogging is difficult work. No, let me correct that: GOOD, WORTHWHILE regular blogging is difficult work. because really, what’s the point of blogging if it’s not going to be good and worthwhile? If what you write isn’t interesting to read, what is the point? Would you write a short story about clipping your toenails? A novella about going to the library and reading a book in which nothing other than walking and reading happens? No you wouldn’t and, if you did, no one would take the time to read it. Such is also true about our blogs. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there, more likely millions. So why would anyone read mine?
There are many things I learned during the gruelling enduro race we refer to as the Tasha Turner Coaching Virtual Blog Tour. I learned that all of us Indie authors face time challenges, and that we all want to do our best. I learned that when a group of people who are working toward a similar goal band together (even if the goal is actually an individual one) great things can happen, that all of them can find their success. I learned that Ellie Mack has a unique perspective on how to play 3-on-3 basketball. But most of all, I learned what it takes to be a good blogger. I hope those of you who followed along enjoyed some of what you read and will continue following.
And finally, many thanks to Tasha and her team for this wonderful and well-run opportunity. It was fun and enlightening; make sure you put me on the invite list if you decide to do it again.
A a writer, one of the most difficult tasks we have to perform is surgery. No, we are not removing the odd appendix in our spare time to pay for editing and covers (though that’s not a bad idea), but we are removing scenes that don’t contribute to the greater good of the novel. Most of the time, it’s more painful for us than it is for the novel. This week, author Anjie Haarte shares one of her deletions and why she decided to make the cut.
To Delete or not to Delete
I write by the seat of my pants. Hmmm, didn’t I say that already on this tour? Okay, I promise this post is not about that. Actually, it is about how that sort of writing leads to me using the delete button a lot. I wrote An Unexpected Desire a chapter a week for the story blog. Somewhere along the line, I ended up writing in a scene from “The Vow”, except the character didn’t lose her memory in a car accident; it was choked out of her. Yep, you read right, she was strangulated until oxygen no longer ran to her brain and she went into a coma that caused her to lose a period in her memory. Then she went back with her previous lover, which in that story was the one who used her to get up in her career. Then they whisked off to Trinidad and Tobago where they ended up in a fight that left the main character hanging from the balcony of a hotel on top of the cliff. Here is a look at a piece of that scene:
“Before Fiona realized it, she had been grabbed by her hair and wrenched into the room. She felt her body being swung from the door to the other end of the room as she cried out from the pain of her hair being pulled. Nyasha reached for the bedside lamp and headed towards Fiona who was standing a little way from the glass sliding door of the balcony.
“What are you going to do with that, electrify me?” Fiona asked as Nyasha threw the lamp at her. She ducked to avoid it and moved quickly out the way ending up in the doorway to the balcony. When she rose up she didn’t get enough time to react as Nyasha plunged at her and grabbed her by the neck forcing her to take steps backward. Soon her body was pressing against the rim of the balcony ledge as Nyasha tightened her grip on her throat. Fiona looked into Nyasha’s face and saw her eyes were red with fury and she gritted her teeth as she tried to channel all her strength into the act of strangling Fiona. Fiona reacted by kicking out her knee at Nyasha and in one movement Nyasha bent over to avoid the knee and gave Fiona one hard push against the chest that sent her over the balcony. Fiona quickly grabbed onto the ledge, screaming for her life as she did. Nyasha was thrown back into the balcony colliding into the furniture as Fiona was now hanging from the balcony, with only her fingers grabbing on to the edge.”
Why did I delete those scenes from the novel? Because I wanted it to be a romance novel and that just didn’t seem to fit into anymore. Yes, I went to Trinidad for a weekend and researched exactly where these characters would be staying and what moving around Trinidad is like. I also researched the condition that occurs when lack of oxygen in the brain causes one to lose their memory, it is called: Cerebral Hypoxia.
So, I continued to do my edits along the line of the romance novel, the two women meet, fall in love, deny it, a misunderstanding arise that cause them to face their feelings and in a few more words they are together. But, that doesn’t sit right with me. Sure I want it to be hot and steamy; I want it to show the romance between the characters but can I honestly live with deleting a scene that shows the true intentions of this character. The character continues to tell me that she isn’t the goody goody person I am writing about and that she has ulterior motives and I SHOULD NOT DELETE THEM. What am I to do?
The plot keeps feeling wrong, like it isn’t complete or interesting enough without that cliff hanger scene so I SHOULD NOT DELETE THEM.
So what do I end up doing? Do I delete the scenes because they don’t fall into what a romance novel is about? Or do I keep them and be true to the story?
I guess you’ll have to wait for the book to be released to find out.
Anjie Harrte is a twenty nine year old mother of one who resides in sunny Guyana, South America. Sometime between running a small business, having a full-time job and being a mother and partner she finds time to pursue her passion for creating stories. Anjie dreams up stories of contemporary fiction splashed with some romance, a little dose of murder or an ounce of suspense and sometimes when no one is looking she dashes in a little twist. When she isn’t doing any of that, she is decorating a cake, knitting a chair back or sewing her latest design. Anjie even finds time to lurk around and stalk people and pages on facebook and you too can stalk her if you like at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anjie-Harrte/ or you can follow her on twitter @anjieharrte or keep updated with her writing at http://authoranjieharrte.blogspot.com/
One of the great pleasures in doing this blog tour has been not only getting to know other writers, but getting to experience their work. Today, Catrina Taylor is kind enough to share an excerpt from her novel Birth of An Empire: The Beginning. Enjoy!
I want to thank the talented Mr. Blake for hosting this excerpt of my novel today. I also want to take this time to thank you, for taking a moment to read what comes after my note. As is the case for every author I know, Xarrok is like one of my children, and giving birth was an incredible joy. It has been an indescribable adventure alongside active and lively characters, in a universe of intense struggle. It has been fun to write. In this excerpt you’ll get to meet one of the two main characters of the Birth of an Empire series, in his native environment – battle. He is leading his team into the heart of a Ven attack and doing so with his typical recklessness. It will be exciting to hear your thoughts on the excerpt.
Creator of Xarrok
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Birth of an Empire: The Beginning – Chapter 2
Yatrell woke up to a sharp searing pain in his mind. Alarms were sounding loudly around him. Angrily he muttered, “Ven.” He reached under his pillow and pulled out his weapon. Without taking time to dress, he entered the minds of those under his command to ascertain where they were. Most were also just waking. He projected to them, ~I am being telepathically attacked. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to communicate this way. Assemble in the common area, now. Pietro not uniform, just the weapon.~ Quickly he moved to the common area, wearing only shorts, t-shirt, a holster and he carried his weapon in hand. He was surprised that he had no resistance, aside from the clear telepathic attack. As he waited for his team he took note of the rattling of the ship and then the sudden but brief quiet before the relocator transportation lights started appearing all over. He yelled loudly, “We’re being boarded. Get here now!”
Anara was next into the common area. She wore her uniform pants and a tank top. She had two small projectile weapons in hand, one directed energy weapon in a holster on her hip and an assortment of small bladed weapons strapped to her. Standing nearly at Yatrell’s height, she was intimidating to anyone standing against her.
“You slept with those on didn’t you?” He grinned and gestured to her arm where one of the bladed weapons was strapped.
“Yep. Well, some of them. Can’t be too prepared.” She turned and saw three more of their team coming into the common area. “So we’re waiting on Pietro?”
A tall man with sandy color hair and hazel eyes nodded, “Yea, the kid isn’t getting how fast he has to move.” A relocator light appeared right in front of the man, who quickly drew his projectile and fired as soon as the Ven appeared solid. The head of the smaller alien splattered across a table behind him. “One.”
Anara shook her head, “Canith, you’ve got a long way to go to catch up.” The men in the room chuckled, knowing they hadn’t kept pace with her in several of the last number of battles. She turned to Yatrell in a serious tone, “We can’t wait for the kid. We need to move out.” Quickly, she switched one projectile for the energy weapon in her holster.
Yatrell nodded, “You’re right. You take these guys and head toward the armory. I’ll get the kid and we’ll meet you there. Make sure you collect as many of our people as you can on the way. Get them armed and ready to return the gesture.” One of the men started to speak up regarding the order, but Yatrell just glared at him and he thought the better of it.
Anara nodded and gestured for the team to follow her out of the room. As she moved with the other three out of the common area, another relocator light appeared. This time it was wider than the previous, relocating multiple Ven into their path. She stood with an energy weapon in one hand and a projectile in the other. She smiled as seconds later she took out two of the Ven. “Two.” She looked over her shoulder as her team took out the rest. “Good. Time to clean house. Let’s move.”
Yatrell heard the noise but turned away from where his team exited and toward the quarters section. He knew if he didn’t retrieve the kid, Pietro might not handle his first battle on their ship. As he moved through the halls, the power cut out. Everything remained dark for several seconds before a relocator light appeared in front of him. As the Ven man appeared inches in front of Yatrell, he was prepared. Yatrell reached out and clutched the throat of the Ven, then shoved him up against the bulkhead behind him. The Ven struggled and Yatrell gripped harder, taking the much shorter man off his feet. Yatrell tried to focus in an effort to read him, but he couldn’t get through the psionic block. The searing pain in his head forced him to relent. In response to this growing and intensely painful headache he took pleasure in watching the Ven invader gasp for his last breath.
He dropped the body and stepped over it, continuing toward Pietro’s quarters. As he walked, the halls became illuminated by a dull red light from the emergency systems. When he was only steps from Pietro’s door, the ship shuddered again and then everything near him went silent. More focused than before, he quickly found himself outside the young man’s quarters. Through the silence around him, he heard the fight inside Pietro’s room. Yatrell reacted. Quickly he input his override codes and enter the room. Upon doing so, he looked at the young man pinned beneath a Ven woman. She had a dagger to his throat. Yatrell growled, “Get away from him.” The woman sneered, looked Yatrell right in the eye as she slit the teen’s throat.
Pietro made one last kick, pushing the Ven woman off him. He then stumbled for two or three paces before collapsing, blood pouring out of his neck and coating the floor.
Yatrell looked at Pietro, unable to help him as he took his last gurgled attempt for air. The Ven woman then jumped on Yatrell, pushing him back into the hall, hard against the wall. With a dagger stuck in his abdomen he glared at her, “Ven bitch.”
The female soldier leaned against him and with furious intensity she growled, “The weak will serve us or they will die.” She twisted the dagger as she spoke. “You, I like dead.”
With a grunt, Yatrell shoved her off him. In one motion he yanked the dagger from his side and threw it at her. The blade pinned her to the wall through her arm. As she struggled to break free, Yatrell walked up to her and stood inches from her face, “You like to attack children do you?” Before the woman could speak again, he pulled his own weapon from his side and fired at her, leaving a sizable hole in her body. He took pleasure in the moment she slumped over and died.
Seconds later another bright light formed nearby and deposited two Ven men at his side. Before Yatrell could react, one man attacked him. He was pushed to the ground with a thud. Stunned for a moment the Ven soldiers began to pummel him. Angrily, Yatrell reached up and dislodged a small band around one of the Ven’s head. The intensity of the telepathic attack lessened just enough for him to notice. “So that’s how you do it.” A smug expression quirked at the corners of his mouth, before he pushed the soldier off of him. The second Ven soldier growled something about his mate being pinned to the wall, then punched Yatrell between his kidneys almost stopping his lesser heart. Flinching from the impact, Yatrell ripped the band from his head and pushed him toward the woman’s body. As he rid himself of the second Ven attacker, the first grasped him from behind and lifted him over his head, dropping Yatrell backwards onto the deck hard. The second man then jumped on Yatrell with his mate’s dagger in hand and tried to force it into the Dentonian’s chest. Yatrell pushed the man’s hands back and countered with a punch and twist that moved the man into his teammate. Both Ven toppled to the ground. In that moment, Yatrell moved quickly to recover his own weapon. The Ven regained their footing in time for Yatrell to pull the trigger of his firearm and kill the second Ven soldier, before turning on the first and doing the same.
Without another thought, Yatrell moved to his feet again and started toward the armory. He encountered several more Ven along the way, but made it with almost no further injury. When he entered the armory there was a cluster of Dentonian forces retrieving weapons and assignments from the Captain. Yatrell approached asking the Captain, “What’s next?”
Before looking at Yatrell the Captain began, “Take Gamma and Kappa teams to protect the Engineers restoring the coil reactor. The systems outside engineering will remain offline as long as we don’t have full power. We need the coil reactor back online to take out those ships.” He turned to hand Yatrell a fresh weapon and then paused when he looked at him, “Man! You look like you engaged Turaant Level Ven alone.”
He shrugged, “Who knows, maybe I did. It’s not like they mark their ranks clearly or something.” Then before the Captain could respond further, Yatrell walked off to meet with his team. When he found Anara and the others locking their weapons into active cycles, he ordered Canith to get Kappa team together. Without hesitation, Canith moved off to assemble Kappa team. Yatrell turned to Anara explaining, “We won’t have much time to move. They are appearing everywhere, as expected. They have no discretion.” He ran through his fresh weapon and waited for the assigned reinforcements.
Anara looked at him for a moment. She noticed how his blood and sweat drenched shirt clung to his side. She hesitated before speaking, “Pietro didn’t make it?”
“No.” Yatrell took his assigned weapons and ranking vest from Set, his third, and looked back at Anara, “I’m fine Lieutenant. It’s just a flesh wound and the bleeding has stopped.” His attention turned to Canith when he approached with Kappa team. “Good. Let’s go. We need to move fast. There is no telling what will come at us.” He pulled the vest over his chest, covering the dagger wound but not before the Kappa team leader noticed.
“Yatrell, you can’t lead with that wound. I’ll get them down there, you go to medical.” The Kappa team leader, Masterson, stepped forward and Lieutenant Cree stopped him by placing her hand on his chest. He stared at her with disdain, but she didn’t move.
Yatrell snapped his eyes to the other Lieutenant Commander and in a tersely he spoke, “You will remember your orders, Lieutenant Commander.” He fastened the vest, strapped his weapons into place and put his small gun into a holster. “Let’s move out.” Both teams fell into rank and position behind him as they left the armory. They moved swiftly through the halls onto a mobile lift, killing every Ven soldier that appeared in their path. Once on the lift they readied their weapons, expecting engineering to be under siege as is typical of a Ven attack. The combined Dentonian team had operated as a strike team before, usually out ahead of the main wave. This time they were moving into the heart of the battle, without back up. The intensity was clear on each of their faces.
The corridor the Dentonian teams had to cross was the widest on the ship. It was large enough to allow significant portions of the ship’s engines to come on board already assembled. Now, instead of engine parts, it was Ven soldiers that cluttered the corridor. Instead of large silver and black components being hovered over by engineers, it was short aggressive soldiers seeking technology and subordinates. Lieutenant Commander Jae and his team had no intention of allowing the Ven success.
Before they got off the lift, Yatrell stopped it and spoke to his team, “The themis grenades are the fastest choice. Don’t hesitate with them. We already know what they will do and we need to answer in kind.”
The other Lieutenant Commander scowled at him, “What are you talking about? We can’t use those in close quarters or on this ship! If we have one missed toss, we’re done.”
Canith and Set began to prepare their grenades when Anara spoke up, “It should clear them fast.” Then she began to count and prepare her own. “Set your counts to milliseconds.”
“We don’t have options, Masterson. At best, you’re looking at a hundred of those creatures outside that door. There are eight of us. You tell me what other choice we have and I’ll take it, but I can’t think of one.” Lieutenant Commander Jae spoke with a firm tone and prepared the two grenades he had on him. Lieutenant Commander Masterson remained silent and readied his primary firearm.
The defense team stepped out of the lift and into the vast engineering corridor. The eight man team was staring at the backs of more Ven than any of them wanted to count. Masterson stepped forward and knelt out of the way of those behind him. Anara threw the first grenade well over the Lieutenant Commander’s head. It bounced and rolled through the feet of the Ven crowd. She whispered, “And…” A moment later a flash of light was followed by the sound of bodies being singed and a small handful of Ven evaporated into tiny specks of dust before finally disappearing into the air.
Once the first grenade went off, all of the nearby enemy soldiers turned and opened fire on the small strike team. Materson, already in position, began firing and cutting down the numbers while the rest of the team threw their grenades and slipped back into the lift for cover. Quickly the Ven numbers thinned out. By the time the Dentonian force ran out of themis grenades, they could see gaps in the crowd before them.
The command came loudly, “Close the door.” Yatrell continued to fire at the Ven as his team fell deeper into the lift and the doors slid shut. Once everyone was inside the lift he grinned. “I think that went well.” He gestured to Anara, the smallest in the group, “I’ll lift you through the hatch. To the left is one of the maintenance tubes. Climb in there and move along the sides. Every opening, drop or throw another grenade. It doesn’t matter what kind.” He looked at the rest of the team with him, “Set, Canith and Seth go with her.” Yatrell began to lift them up and out of the lift’s hatch.
“That side ends before engineering.” Masterson spoke up as he looked at his team. “Everyone’s already thrown at least one theimis and we don’t have an inexhaustible supply.”
“No we don’t, but there are other weapons on all of us that can be used, along the openings.” Yatrell chuckled, “Anara alone is a walking arsenal.” He gestured to his second in command and the numerous weapons she carried. “They will drop and make a run for the door. We’re going to clear the way.” Set was the last from the first group out of the lift and into the tube.
“How? You can’t put four people out against a hundred, or however many are left after the assault.” Masterson asked with frustration evident.
“I have no intention to. You and your team are going into the other tunnel. It’s ventilation and, like the maintenance tube, it has a few openings. It’s also a bit larger. Should make moving easier. You can repeat the same process and help to clear the distance between here and engineering. Yes, you’ll have to drop out, but that drops out much closer than the other tunnel.”
Lieutenant Commander Masterson nodded to his team, who were already preparing to climb out of the lift, “What are you going to do?”
“What I normally do. Something unexpected.” Yatrell grinned. When the banging on the door began he started to help the other group out of the lift and Masterson turned and reached down for Yatrell’s arms and helped him out of the lift as well. Yatrell began removing the various grenades he had on him and activating the ones set on a timer before dropping them into the lift. “We won’t be using this one for a while after this.” Masterson followed his team into the ventilation tunnel on the other side of the shaft. Yatrell looked up, “I’ll see you in engineering.” The men nodded to each other before Masterson disappeared into the system and Yatrell began to climb, fast. One deck up and he got out of the lift shaft. Just as the door closed behind him, the explosion from the lift rattled the deck and door enough to knock Yatrell from his feet.
Dazed but able to stand, Yatrell quickly tried to reach out to the teams telepathically, to make sure they were alright. Instead of reaching them, he was greeted by an intense and debilitating pain. He stood and staggered for several steps before he pushed through the pain. He moved down the now empty hall and stepped passed two Dentonian bodies. The man that was face up was someone he was familiar with and he found himself mumbling, “Rix.” He remained diligently aware of his surroundings, expecting to see a Ven relocation light. Nothing came as he made his way to the small arsenal in the deck’s weapons locker. Quickly, he pulled out a small bag designed to attach to his belt and filled it with two different grenade types. He then grabbed the other armaments that he could strap to himself. He moved to the end of the hall, stepped into a vertical maintenance shaft, and he climbed down. As he passed the maintenance tube between decks he could hardly hear his people, so he moved faster.
At the bottom rung he pulled one of the themis grenades out of the pouch and set the timer, but didn’t activate it. Then he pulled another out and jumped down the last half length. He turned and found himself not two lengths from the nearest Ven. Four stood in front of him, each with a cocky grin on their face. He tossed the first grenade toward them and they scattered. He then activated the other and threw it not far from the base of the ladder and climbed fast back up it. He took a laser blast to his leg and projectile to his vest, but climbed no slower. By the time he reached the top the second grenade exploded, clearing his path below. He made his way back down the ladder and onto the engineering deck.
Lieutenant Commander Jae looked to his right when he heard a clatter to the ground. Masterson and his team were about to emerge from the tunnel before Anara and her team. “Masterson, get everyone into engineering.” Then, Yatrell turned toward the other tunnel one last time, still not seeing the side open. “I’m going to draw their fire.” Without further thought, he moved in the path of the weapons’ fire. As he did, he tossed another themis in one direction and bowled over one of the larger Ven soldiers near the opening. Quickly he pinned the solider and slammed his fist hard into the Ven’s face. Hearing it crack he reached for the Ven weapon and turned it on the crowd, rapidly closing in. The beam streamed through one Ven body and pierced the ones behind him as well. As he fired several fell with a single shot. When it warmed in his hand, he tossed it at the oncoming attackers. Feeling a hard crack between his shoulder blades, Yatrell leaned forward and yanked the band from the head of the Ven he had pinned. As he did, he noticed the Ven bleed down the sides of his head.
Then, Yatrell looked up at the crowd of weapons facing him. Without a thought, he grabbed the nearest Ven energy weapon and played with the settings. One Ven woman kicked him hard while he did. He was pushed off of the Ven he pinned as the energy weapon made a high pitched whine. Suddenly, the Ven moved away from him and as far back as they could. All of the Ven moved, except the one he had previously pinned to the ground. Quickly Yatrell shoved the weapon through the abdomen of the solider and took off for the engineering door, just seconds after his team made it in. The explosion shook the floor beneath them and Yatrell commented, “Someone is going to hate me tomorrow, for that.”
The Dentonian defense team didn’t waste a moment. They moved together and took advantage of the short window Yatrell had bought them.
The lead engineer smirked when he noted who it was leading the defense team into his section, “Well, if it isn’t Lieutenant Commander Jae. Welcome to the engineering core and coil repository. Now get your sorry backsides all the way in here and take up defense. We need to get this online already.”
“Aye sir.” Yatrell chuckled . In unified movements, the team took up positions around the engineering door and began to hold off the invaders as the onslaught began again. When he stood in position, his back against the half wall, he was able to get a clear view of the entrance. With his focus on the Ven trying to push into engineering, he called to the engineering Commander, “How long will this take?”
The commanding engineer called back to Yatrell, “Ten minutes if we can focus and not have to kill something.”
“Understood.” Yatrell then fired, killing another of the Ven soldiers as they attempted to push their way into the section, “Let’s hold ‘em off. Engineers need ten and then we play clean up.” The team fiercely held the door, keeping the Ven out of engineering.
After a few minutes, the engineers announced that the coils were charging. Hearing this motivated the defense team to start to push out of engineering. As the room filled with a sharp, high pitched whine, the Ven began to fall back. Shortly thereafter the lights came on and power returned throughout the ship. The ship shuddered hard and lurched forward then backward again as the weapon fired. When the ship stuttered and shifted it sent Yatrell over the railing and onto the deck below him. He landed with a thud loud enough to make his team fall back to his previous position. Stunned he blinked and stared up at the coil as it returned to a normal functioning state. From his back he watched the coils start to turn and light up again, and the engineers on that level moved toward him.
Anara looked over the side and called down, “Ah… You ok down there?”
After several moments Yatrell realized he was spoken to and called up, “Uhmm… I think so.” And then the room went black.
In the world of writing, we authors try to break ourselves down into two groups, perhaps in case there is some sort of war, that way we will know who’s on whose side. The categories are plotter and pantser. A plotter is a writer who maps out their story, knowing where it will go every step of the way. A pantser is one who, perhaps with no more than a vague idea, sits down and writes to see where the characters and the germination of an idea will take them. I am somewhere in the middle, kind of like Switzerland, but let’s find out where my guest, Joseph Eastwood–author of Lumen, the first book in the Blood Luminary series–slots himself in when the big battle begins.
Plotter or Pantser?
I am a plotter. I love to plot and plan my stories. I also have schedules, and if I miss it then it screws up my whole day and throws everything out of sync. I cannot pants at anything, and although sometimes I try when I do my flash fiction pieces, I just can’t, I also plan them to an extent, and I always have to know where it’s going or where it’s got to get to.
I think that pantsing is a great skill, I think it means that you can make mistakes, and look back and think, well, thank goodness I didn’t plan any of that, and it’s even better if it’s good, because you’re just like “yeah, it was all spur of the moment writing,” and so you feel better.
I’d like to think that I wasn’t the only person who felt like they could do with a little bit of both in their life. Pantsing has its pros, it also has its cons, and the same goes for plotting. A pantser might write a book in 20 days, especially if they’re just reeling it all off and trying to make as much sense on page as it does in their head. This can be a bad thing especially when they give it a read through and realise that there are some plot holes and errors. Now, with plotting, you do just that, you plot, and you try and stop holes in the plot from occurring before they work their way into the book.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I would like the spontaneity of a pantser, and if I had that, mixed with my already overplotting self, I figure that I could get more work done. As one of the cons to plotting is how time consuming, well, how consuming in general plotting can be, not only to time, but also just to yourself, I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and I have ideas that need to be written down and need to be put into my story in one way or another. A pantser may get the same urge especially when they’re in the midst of a huge write, because being a writer isn’t a hobby, it’s actually the most consuming thing ever.
Is it strange that I’m a plotter with dreams of one day possessing some of the skills of a pantser?
Are you a plotter or a panter? Or the same as me? Or the opposite?
Joseph Eastwood is the eldest of five siblings. He lives and grew up in Lancaster, England, where he also attends the University of Cumbria, studying English Literature and Creative Writing.
He has always had a giant creative connection in his life, from drawing and writing to having an eclectic taste in music and reading a wide range of books, which he hopes reflects in his own writing. He also loves watching sci-fi, supernatural and fantasy based TV shows and films. Among some of his favourites are Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. As well as those he loves dramas, like The Good Wife and Desperate Housewives.
Joseph is either busy doing edits and writing or trying to get some university work done. He lives for creativity, striving to be different and thinking up new hoops for his characters to jump through.
https://www.facebook.com/josephswriting – Facebook page
https://twitter.com/#!/Joe_Eastwood – Twitter
Daniel, like all other adolescents on Templar Island is going through the final transition that will allow him to manipulate the bonds of energy and do more than just tamper with his own biological form.
After a near-death experience he is accepted into Croft’s Academy, the only private school on the island and for someone like Daniel to gain access to such teaching is a privilege, and they won’t let him forget it. He tries to fit in, but that’s when things take a turn for the worst, and everything he once knew can’t be possible any more. He doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe.
SOON TO BE RELEASED!
Add to Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13219801-lumen
July 17, 2012
The first Icarus Fell novel by Bruce Blake, On Unfaithful Wings, has been a huge success, with over 20000 copies downloaded since its release and a 4.5 star rating with 31 reviews. Here’s what people are saying about the first in the series:
“Bruce Blake’s On Unfaithful Wings is a great urban fantasy novel. I love good character development in a story’s protagonist and Blake nails it with Icarus Fell. I found myself rooting for him from the get go and laughing out loud at some of his observations.”
“On Unfaithful Wings was an impressive first novel. All of the characters were interesting and engaging, but in particular the main character and his struggle to reconcile with his new identity/job. This is one of those stories that stays with me long after I read it and I’ll be on the lookout for more from this author.”
“I have to say it is absolutely wonderful how many amazing indie authors I seem to find with the talent to write and entertain on the same level as most traditionally published authors. This is book is another one. I highly recommend it as a very good read, and I should also make note here that this is the first book in a series for which I will happily read and review the minute the next book is released.”
“I can honestly say I am a Bruce Blake fan and I can’t wait to read the second book in this amazing series and see what happens to Icarus Fell next!”
Well, the wait is over! Sometime in the wee hours this morning, the second Icarus Fell novel, All Who Wander Are Lost, hit the shelves at Kindle. The second volume of exploits finds our unlikely hero, Icarus Fell, feeling guilty about the souls sent to Hell because of his lackluster performance as a Harvester. Determined to get them back, Icarus manages to endanger everyone he cares about, alienate a couple of angels, and risk his own soul on a dangerous trip to Hell with a beautiful guardian angel he’s only just met.
Here’s a sample of the action:
We crossed the nave, passed the unscathed altar where Father Dominic had threatened my son’s life a month before, and stopped at the base of the still-standing wall. I pulled up beside her and gazed at the blackened stone. When she didn’t do anything, I touched the stone wall, found it as solid as ever.
“I don’t get it.”
She didn’t respond, surveying the wreckage around us instead. After a moment, she strode to a charred but mostly whole pew and picked it up like it weighed nothing. She brought it to where I stood and propped it against the wall beneath the stained glass Virgin Mary.
“You asked me that already. The answer’s still: not really.”
She shrugged, smiled, and started climbing, using the pew as a ladder to the window. When she reached the top, she stepped onto the window ledge and motioned for me to follow. I breathed deep, gathering my nerves.
Do I really want to go to Hell again?
The answer was no, I didn’t want to. I had to.
I struggled my way up the charred pew with less dexterity than Piper but made it to the top. She offered her hand and helped me onto the ledge, a bolt of electricity and a wayward lustful thought shooting through me. I shook free of her touch.
We stood there a few seconds, inches from the miracle window, and I wondered what the people gathered on the sidewalk watching for miracles would think when we burst through the glass. But when she took a step toward it, the glass didn’t break. Instead, her foot passed through it as though she stepped through one of those seventies beaded curtains. Bit by bit, she disappeared.
Piper was gone, vanished through the window like Alice through the looking-glass. I could have turned and left; I wanted to. I looked back at the pew leaning against the wall, at the debris-strewn church, and started to turn, but a sound stopped me. A voice.
The voice of a woman.
Was it one of the miracle-seekers crying out to the Heavens? Piper prompting me to follow? Maybe it was Beth Elton calling for help all the way from Hell.
I drew a fortifying breath and my foot went through the window like it didn’t exist, then my hand, my arm, and finally my torso and head. The chilly night disappeared, replaced by searing pain, confusion, agony. I saw the people standing on the sidewalk for a second; the murmur of their prayers thundered in my ears, the light of their candles blinded me. Then they faded from view. A pressure mounted in my head, threatening to over-inflate it to the point of bursting.
And then blackness overcame all.
The curse is broken, but the war isn’t over. Grace is under the spell of a love potion, torn between her obsessive love for the prince and her calling to protect Dar and the shape changers. Though Dar wants nothing more than her freedom, he’s being held as a prisoner in the palace and watched at every turn. Miles away, Sierra is the reluctant savior of the shape changers as she tries to keep Evan alive in his lust for blood.
Grace and Dar struggle to make the political alliances needed to bring the shape changers back home while dealing with new doses of the love potion. But the king sides with the Protectors, who are willing to do anything to keep the magic away, even controlling the kingdom. When the man who cursed the shape changers ten years ago reappears at the castle, the Avialies abandon their attempts at peace in order to keep their family’s future secure. The consequences of their actions catapult a sequence of events that threatens Grace, Sierra, and the Avialies in ways they could have never prepared for.
In this sequel to Promising Light, the war is just beginning, and no war is without casualties.
Promising Light: Grace, a young noble, must decide whether to help a shape changer family break a curse set on their family by the powerful Protectors.
Goodreads for Promising Light: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13289252-promising-light
Goodreads for Promising Hope: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15722722-promising-hope
Author Website: http://emilyannward.com/
Author’s Newsletter for news and future giveaways of Promising Hope: http://eepurl.com/jz6EH
When I read a book I enjoy, I often find myself wondering “where did that come from?” Most times, I never find out the answer, but today, Nikki Noffsinger let’s us in on the inspiration behind her novel Cursed Awakening. Thanks for taking the time to visit, Nikki.
A question was posed, “What inspired your latest novel?” Before I answer that I have answer what inspires me period. The answer is simple-everything. I get inspiration from just about anything. The first story I ever wrote was about the mermaids that lived in the lake outside of our house that became ducks during the daytime. I had a very great English teacher my junior year in high school, Mr. Moritz that gave a very interesting assignment one day. He spread out several ordinary items on his desk and we were to come and take a look. When we took our seats he gave each of us a number. Whatever number we had that was our object and we were to create a story, essay, poem, one act play, or comic about it. My object was a small compass. My story was what morphed into Guardian of the Night. So I think that it just goes to prove that I can literally write about anything and there are very few things that I can’t derive some sort of inspiration from.
So how was Cursed Awakening born? Scoot up and take a seat. This is a pretty detailed story. Several things took place when the conception of Cursed Awakening came out. Cursed Awakening is a book about a wolf shifter who falls for a woman who is determined to have her own life and new beginning after fleeing from a religious cult against some pretty big odds. Believe it or not the love story was not what came first. Actually I had watched Aliens 2 and that night when I had gone to bed, I had a horrible nightmare. It wasn’t of Aliens but it was of something else; something sinister with sickly pale greenish-yellow skin and glowing green eyes. It had blackened serrated teeth and moved like a jungle cat but only faster. I was running from this creature that made a horrible hissing with an almost insect like noise. To say the least, I woke up and didn’t go back to bed for awhile. About a month or so later I was watching a show on 20/20 about the Lost Boys and young girls who had either been cast out or had run away from a certain church known for atrocious polygamy practices. There is where the story began forming. I had a clear image of Ivy in my head as well as the creature feature. However I was still missing a piece to the puzzle-the hero. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wanted to try my hand at writing a shifter character but I also wanted him to be Native American. Now before all you Twi-fans start thinking I’ve ripped off Team Jacob let me tell you why. Not only is Indian lore and history one of my favorite topics but on an episode of Oprah she highlighted the plight of so many Native Americans that live on reservations everywhere. Many of these places are in such poor conditions. Native Americans; the very first people that inhabited our country and they are all but forgotten it seems. My grandmother has long supported the St. Bonaventure mission that helps the Navajo nation and I have always been an avid supporter of many Native American causes that includes the freeing of Leonard Peltier. Before I knew it Nyx Wahpeton was born.
Monet found inspiration with landscapes and hay stacks in the French countryside. Degas couldn’t stop painting and sculpting ballerinas and dancers. Van Gogh found inspiration in the starry night sky and sunflowers. Me, I find inspiration in everything and with Cursed Awakening, I was inspired by true things that made a great fictional work. So while there may not be any sunflowers, ballerinas, or gentle mounds of drying grasses; Cursed Awakening is a story of survival, new beginnings, learning to trust not only with the eyes but with the heart, and much more. Plus it begs the reader to make a contrast to the real monsters in the story and it has some pretty gruesome ones in it inspired by a nightmare and urban myth.
So tell me, what inspires you? What monsters lurk in your nightmares? If you’ve not read Cursed Awakening, what are you waiting for? When you are reading a book what things are you looking for to grab your attention and what keeps you turning the page.
Nicole Noffsinger or Nikki as she is known is a 37 year old mother of two children and has always loved writing and creating stories from a young age. She lives with her family in a mid-sized Indiana town. Aside from writing she has an eclectic taste in both music and art, loves to travel, and has a great love of all things that go “bump” in the night.
Tag, I’m it.
Steven Montano hit me up to be part of this Lucky 7 meme. In Steven’s words, here’s how it works:
- Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
- Go to line 7
- Copy down the next seven lines/sentences exactly as they are
- Tag 7 other authors
Doesn’t sound like too much work, so I think I have the time to indulge. I’m currently working on books three and four of my Khirro’s Journey heroic fantasy, so let’s see what’s happening on page 7 of book three. Oh, yes. Khirro and his magician companion, Athryn, have just narrowly escaped death at the hands of a ferocious giant.
“Get dressed. Better to use sunlight for travel than sentiment,” Khirro said slapping the magician’s shoulder as he rose.
Athryn stood and brushed sand from his shirt as Khirro went to the giant lying motionless at the forest’s edge. He approached cautiously, but the giant stared skyward, its eyes glassy and sightless; it didn’t move when he prodded its ribs with his toe. Satisfied, Khirro grasped the Mourning Sword and removed it from the giant’s back. A gout of blood followed it, the powdery sand absorbing it like a starving animal. The blade glowed and pulsed as the blood clinging to its steel disappeared, sucked into the runes twisted along its length.
Now I pass the baton to seven others? Hmm…who likes to play? How about:
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to become part of a virtual blog tour through Tasha Turner Coaching. Of course, I jumped at the chance; my little independent author’s brain screamed at me that this would be a great opportunity for a little blatant self-promotion. While this is definitely the case, a second benefit is the opportunity to meet and learn about other writers. Without the effort of people like Tasha, how would I ever get the chance to get to know a forward-thinking great guy like Doug Simpson? Have a read and get to know him yourself.
An Alternative Blog
In January of 2010 I began writing, and offering for publication, articles created by using the archived readings of the legendary American mystic, Edgar Cayce. Progress was slow, for a while, but I eventually located spirituality websites and magazines that were willing to showcase my efforts. Less than two-and-a-half years later I now have had published twenty-two different Edgar Cayce related articles in seven different countries, for a grand total of 139 times. I’m really not bragging, but developing a point. You cannot read any of my articles on my website at http://dousimp.mnsi.net!
As my slow early success began to escalate, I decided I needed a website to showcase my articles. Somehow, for some reason, the notion came to me that all of these websites and magazines had been nice enough to publish my articles, so I should not be publishing my articles on my website in competition with them, so I didn’t. Right from the day my website was birthed, I started directing visitors to my site to the websites and the magazines where my articles could be read, increasing the traffic to their websites. An additional factor was not in the original plan, but this system I adopted where I sent my visitors to the actual publication sites eventually resulted in some other websites seeking me out to ask if they too could publish my articles. I guess we could say that good deeds return good deeds? The system seems as simple as rolling a snowball down a hill – it just grows and grows and grows into an avalanche.
Until recently, I never considered having a blog because I never considered that I had much of interest to say to the world, but I somewhat reluctantly created one anyway. So, now what do I have to say that is not published somewhere else and visitors would be interested in reading? Not much! So, I adopted the same policy with my blog that I used with my website – use my blog to send visitors to where my writing can be read, and go out and find some more interesting writers to contribute to my blog. Maybe I will even join a blog tour! Visit me at http://doug-simpson-author.blogspot.com/.
© Doug Simpson 2012
Doug Simpson is a retired high school teacher who has turned his talents to writing. His first novel, a spiritual mystery titled Soul Awakening, was published in the United States in October of 2011, by Book Locker. Check it out at http://booklocker.com/books/5754.html. It is available in print and eBook format through most book stores around the world. His magazine and website articles have been published in 2010 to 2012 in Australia, Canada, France, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His articles can be accessed through his website athttp://dousimp.mnsi.net.
In case people have been wondering where I am, I thought I’d put together a quick update so no one would worry (probably not much danger…I don’t think my Mom reads my blog).
Currently, I am in Las Vegas. It is my wife’s profession which brought me here; she is a burlesque performer and this weekend is the annual Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend. I know, tough life, right? Not only am I in Vegas on ‘vacation’, but I’m surrounded by beautiful women all the time (it’s slow right now, but where I’m sitting in the cafe, I see no fewer than 5 drop dead gorgeous ladies. I think I’ll go to the pool next). Last night was opening night: “Movers, Shakers and Innovators”. It may have been the best night of burlesque I’ve ever seen with stunning costumes, fabulous props, show-stopping choreography and incredibly beautiful people (yes, ladies, there were a few boylesque acts, including a heroic fireman and a prancing unicorn).
While I’m on vacation, I remain working, but only on what I want, not that job I have to do to pay the bills. I’ve been writing a couple of hours each day as well as doing some promo and planning. I’m profiled today (June 1) over at Bunnys Review, will have an interview featured at Alan Dale’s Summer 150 Tour on June 5, and I’m also part of a virtual blog tour later in the month (watch this space for details). I’ll be sending the second Icarus Fell novel (“All Who Wander Are Lost”) off to the editor when I get home with the first two books in my “Khirro’s Journey” epic fantasy not far behind.
Enough about me; let’s talk burlesque for a minute, but not about the beauty of the performers and the form. One thing that strikes me most about every performer I’ve met is the absolute passion they have for what they do. For many people, the idea of getting on stage in front of a group of people is terrifying by itself. Now add in performing and stripping and you can understand how much each of those performers has to love what they do to put themselves so completely out there. It’s not so different from writing.
As writers, we are also laying ourselves bare for strangers to view and judge, to enjoy or criticize. The reaction isn’t as immediate, but it can be more brutal. There is a certain anonymity that a reader has in comparison to the member of an audience. In the audience, amongst others appreciative of what they are watching and the effort that went into it, a critic is probably less likely to voice their opinion. A reader, however, is hidden behind the mask of their computer when they post a review or send an email; this kind of criticism can feel like a victimless crime. Between that and the early morning writing sessions, long days and months of creating with little or no outside encouragement, and the sheer terror of releasing a novel into the world for everyone to see it, warts and all, it is only our passion that keeps us going.
Hold it close and know that it makes you special. It makes you beautiful.
Update to Alan Dale’s Summer 150 Tour. Catch my interview on June 5. Follow everyday to learn about some great Indie authors!
Alan is taking on a huge task by doing 150 interviews. Follow along starting June 1 and join the fun!
It’s Satruday, May 12, 2012 as I write these words. Normally, when I sit down at the computer with the page titled ‘Add New Post’ open on my screen, I’m thinking about writing, or the business of writing, my experiences in writing, etc. Not today, though. Today I have something else on my mind.
We all have moments in time and events in our lives that stick with us. Some of them are good and we want to keep them close; some are bad and follow us like a hungry animal waiting to pounce; some just are. In any case, they are indelible happenings and experiences that, no matter how hard we try, don’t come off. Hopefully, the happy outweigh the others.
For me, there are so many snippets of conversations, small happenings and inblogpropriate intimate moments from the early days of my relationship with my wife. The day we got married; the time we sat in the hot tub of our first house looking up at the starry sky above our tree. I can relive every moment of my daughter’s birth from the moment my wife said “it’s time” to that first choked mewl. The happy moments I hold close like a security blanket on a stormy night are many.
But today, May 12, 2012, marks the sixth anniversary of my father’s death: he died nine months after he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; one month and one day before his 65th birthday; two days before Mother’s Day.
Dad and I weren’t especially close. He was an armed forces guy, away from home a lot as I was growing up; I was a bit of a black sheep with my long hair and my heavy metal music. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, to say the least, but he was my father. I never doubted that he loved me and wanted the best for me, even when he didn’t agree with what it was I wanted or my way of getting there. Despite the years that have passed, he surprises me quite often, showing up in a phrase I speak, a song on the radio, or popping up out of the blue for no apparent reason. And that last day, May 12, 2006, I remember as though it was yesterday.
It was a hectic week for me. I’d just started a new job in a new town and was in the process of buying a house when my mother called to say she thought we should come. We were all there: me, my wife and two children, my mother, my sister and my brother who had travelled from Ontario to B.C. to be there.
When it was apparent Dad didn’t have much time left, they brought an adjustable hospital bed into my parents’ house so he could die comfortably at home with his family instead of in the hospital. It was surreal seeing him in that bed with its white sheets and metal rails in the living room where he should have been sitting, feet up, in his recliner. There was no newspaper draped across his chest as he napped — mouth open and snoring — after a meal. Instead, there was pain and discomfort; a poorly drawn facsimile of the man who’d raised us and later spoiled his grandchildren with candy and treats.
We were all gathered around the bed as the end approached, except my daughter, who was only four at the time. Each of us had a hand on him, including my brave eleven-year-old son who I was as proud of then as I am now. I see it all clearly as I sit here in a coffee shop fighting to keep tears back (why do I have to be a cliché coffee-shop-writer?). But the moment that stands out most to me six years later is the last few minutes, as the clock crept toward 10:47pm. Dad’s eyes were open and, although we couldn’t be sure if he could still see, if he was still aware, he was looking into my mother’s eyes. She leaned forward, touched his face, and told him it was okay, that it was time for him to go. And he did.
In that gesture, in those words, I saw the love my parents had for one another, a love that wasn’t always so apparent after almost 43 years of marriage but, in the end, stood out above all else.
On the evening of May 12, 2006, my four-year-old daughter went to bed with a sick grandpa; when she woke up the next morning, he was gone. Six years later, she still remembers him and talks about him as though they shared a lifetime. Six years later, my wife is angry with him that he left before they could have more friendly debates. Six years later, I sit in a coffee shop typing, fighting back tears, doing my best to expose and vanquish that animal that stalks me, taking little bites out of me at the most unexpected times.
Six years later, we all miss you, Dad. Wish you’d hung around to read my novels and watch your grandchildren grow up.
In Loving Memory
William Frank Blake June 13, 1941 – May 12, 2006
Want to hear something funny?
When I was writing my last post, I was also thinking about what to write for my next…this one. And I was going to write about all the things a self-published author needs to do while working toward some semblance of success, and how difficult it can be to find time to do it all. Guess what happened.
I couldn’t find time to write it. That silly life outside the things I love got in the way this week. It happens sometimes. I did manage to find time to write a guest post for Writers Get Together, and if you need more of me (bless you for that), you can read the interview Fiona McVie did with me at Inspiration Forums. Please don’t feel neglected; I still have three other blogs I volunteered to write a guest post for that I haven’t managed to get to yet (sorry Mac, et al).
To make it up to you, I’m posting an excerpt from “On Unfaithful Wings”. I hope you enjoy it.
The tip of the knife waggled in the air, gesturing for me to continue. I stared at the point of the blade, at the man’s fingerless glove and the way he’d chewed his fingers until they looked painful. Beyond his arm, I thought I saw a smile hidden in the darkness beneath the hood.
I sighed, a shuddering breath lamenting how little my wallet contained for them to steal as much as it did the fact they were stealing it. The man behind me snatched it away before it cleared my pocket, his nails raking my wrist, and rifled through the meager contents. He snatched the three bills it contained, made a face at the fifteen bucks, and then took the VISA card I’d fought so hard to get after ruining my credit a few years back. Joke’s on him if he uses it, they’ll probably ask for a payment first.
He showed the sparse loot to his partner.
“Fifteen bucks? That’s it?”
“Look at this.” He’d dug out my driver’s licence. I knew this would happen. “The guy’s name is Icarus Fell. Icarus, like in the Iron Maiden song”
“Yeah,” I said. “The guy who named me didn’t like me much. Call me Ric.”
“Sure, Icarus,” the guy holding the knife said in a schoolyard-bully lilt. With a name like Icarus Fell, I’d heard that tone enough to recognize it. He stepped toward me, blade extended to within an inch of my face. I wanted to take an equal step away, but knew his partner wouldn’t like that, so I stood my ground, hoping to look more brave than stupid.
“What else you got?”
“Nothing. That’s it.”
“Check his pockets. He put something in his pocket.”
The man tossed my wallet onto the grass where it landed with a mucky-sounding splat. He advanced on me and this time I moved. He grabbed my arm, pulled me toward him. “Don’t do nothing stupid.”
Why didn’t he tell me that twenty-five or thirty years ago?
He patted my pants pockets first–the most action I’d seen in a while–then moved to the pockets of my suit jacket; the right hand outer one produced a hollow, plasticky thud.
“Nothing,” I said inching away. “A game for my kid.”
“Give it up.”
“Guys, really. What are you going to do with a video game?”
His fingers dug into my bicep. “Give it to me.”
“I already missed his birthday. Can’t you let me keep it?” I yanked against his grip knowing I shouldn’t–people got killed for less–but I couldn’t let Trevor down. Not again. “Take everything else. I won’t tell anyone.”
“There is nothing else. Give it to me,” the knife-wielder demanded.
I wondered what Rae would tell Trevor when he didn’t get a present from me again. Probably that, since someone else was his ‘real’ father, I didn’t care.
Adrenaline flooded my brain, but it didn’t heighten my senses the way they describe in books. Instead, it made me stupid. Before I realized what I was doing, I swung at the man holding my arm, my fist contacting his nose with a satisfying crunch. The move surprised both of us and he lifted his hands to his face.
It took a second to comprehend that he’d let me go. My heartbeat quickened, pulsed in my ears. I ran, or attempted to: dress shoes aren’t made for sprinting on wet grass. Both men jumped me before I got going, riding me to the ground like they were the cowboys and I was the calf. A knee pressed into my back, an elbow in my ear as my cheek sank into soggy lawn knocking breath from my lungs and hope from my heart. My clothes soaked instantly, plastering cloth to skin, the smell of wet earth filled my nose, literally.
“You stupid bastard,” one of them said, but the mud in one ear and elbow in the other precluded me from identifying which one. “Couldn’t give us the stupid game, could you?” He yanked it out of my pocket.
The pain of the knife’s tip pushing through the flesh of my lower back into my kidney hurt more than I could ever have imagined. The shock of it made me suck a mixture of cold air and dirty rain water through taut lips and expel it all in an agonized howl. The knife rose and fell again, then again, perforating my internal organs, each stab more painful than the last. Each time it pulled free, I prayed to a God I didn’t believe in that it would end, that I would get up and hurry on my way to see Trevor.
My body jerked and spasmed beneath the men straddling me, my bladder let go. After the fourth time the knife entered me, my flesh went numb. It may have pierced me a few more times, but I lost interest in counting. I gasped air in through my mouth and the breath tasted like the black crud scraped off bread left too long in the toaster. And blood.
“That’s enough. Let’s go,” one of them said, presumably the one not engaged in shredding my bowels.
Their weight lifted off my back and my mind told me to roll over and sit up, defend against further attack, but my muscles would have nothing of such a proposal, so I lay on the wet grass doing the only thing I could: bleed. Maybe I wept a little, too, but who can tell in the rain?
“I guess Icarus really did fall, didn’t he, Ric?”
Their laughter didn’t sting nearly as much as the knife, and it dissipated much more quickly as they ran off. I was used to being teased but couldn’t say the same of being knifed. After they left, my ragged breathing and the sound of rain pattering around and on me became my world. I never realized how much noise rain hitting grass made until my ear was pressed to the ground with no choice but to listen.
My stomach knotted as the gravity of my situation set in: after eleven on a Wednesday night, bleeding on the lawn outside an empty church in the kind of downpour that convinced people not to venture out for a chat with God.
Did I mention I was bleeding? A lot?
Water pooled in my ear canal until the unnaturally loud plop of rain drops splashing into the tiny pond drowned out even the sound of my breath. Not steady, metronomic drips like I imagined a water torture would be, but an uneven patter that, should I live long enough, would likely prove equally effective at driving me crazy.
In my head, the single word came out a scream, shaking trees and rattling windows, attracting the attention needed to save me so I could see my son again, even if it was for the last time. In reality, it was more of a peep. I closed my eyes and sucked dirty water through my nose then coughed it out my mouth. The pain it induced in my back and side hurt worse than the original stabbing, like someone stood over me with a hot poker pressed to my side, except I was cold and wet and bleeding to death, too. A hot poker didn’t sound so bad.
“Help,” I peeped.
Excerpt fom “On Unfaithful Wings”