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Weekend Writing Warrior 6/13/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoWelcome back for the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. I’m continuing to share from book 3.5 of my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

This story is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling, and it centers on Uli, the childhood nurse of Prince Brandulfur who accompanies him on all his adventures, even when he’s grown up. This week’s snippet continues on directly from last week’s, which ended with Uli’s stepfather asking to speak with her after breakfast (that she cooked poorly).

* * * * * * *

He didn’t say anything as he studied her. She knew he had no cause for judgment, not this time. All her morning chores were completed at least adequately, and both her spear and her sling were hidden in the woods beyond their farm; she’d only needed to learn that lesson once.

“Jarl Magni and his sons will be visiting our home tonight. I can’t have them eating half-raw duck or rock-hard bread, or have mead spilled in their beards, or whatever new mayhem you’ll cause this time. They’re here for your sister Ingvild anyway, so your presence won’t be missed.” He raised an eyebrow. “Understood?”

“Yes, Father,” Uli said said dutifully.

“Go on, then.”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

Uli nodded and went outside. As soon as she reached the stables, she broke into a grin. Magni and his insufferable sons were from two villages over, and their visits nearly always lasted several days. Which meant she would have several days of time to herself, with no expectations to be a dutiful housewife-in-training.

Weekend Writing Warrior 6/6/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoSummer is here, so I’m spending the weekend camping. I thought I’d escape to the cool North Woods, but it’s somehow 90+ degrees here – hotter than it is back home. Looks like I’ll be finding a lake to swim in today instead of hiking.

You know where it’s not hot? In Karjaland, where this week’s snippet is set. For the next month or two, I’ll be posting snippets from Heartsbane Saga book 3.5, which is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling – with Vikings, of course. This is the start of the story.

* * * * * * *

Uli bit her lip as her stepfather bit into one of her freshly baked ebelskivers.  And then promptly cringed as he spit it out into the table.

“Worthless girl,” he muttered as he glared at her. “Who would marry someone who can’t even cook a basic pancake?”

Beside her, Uli’s older sister shot her a sympathetic look, while their younger sister simply preened. Her ebelskivers had been perfect, of course.

Uli nodded meekly, as her stepfather expected her to do, but throughout breakfast she seethe inside. She wouldn’t even want to marry someone who expected a woman’s greatest skill to be cooking pancakes.

 After breakfast was cleared from the longhouse’s table, Uli was about to slip outside to the stables when her stepfather stopped her. 

“Uli, a word with you?”

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/30/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverHappy long weekend to everyone! I’m spending mine hiking around the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Nothing beats getting out in nature to recharge yourself.

For this week’s Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP, I’m sharing one last time from my upcoming-ish release, book 3 of my Heartsbane Saga: Little Amethyst Abaya, which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a world of Vikings. Either next week or the week after, I’ll be moving on to the next book in the series, #3.5, which will be a retelling of The Ugly Duckling (title not yet finalized).

I’m continuing the scene from last week. Nyah, the protagonist, is mad that the men she’s traveling with are making plans without her for the next stage of their journey. Not only have they told her it’s too dangerous for her to go with them, but she’s not allowed to listen in because she’s a woman and some of the local men object to her presence when talking about “men things.” Domhnall, the guy she’s kinda hooking up with, is trying to smooth things over with her.

* * * * * * *

Domhnall traced my palm with his thumb, making it hard to focus on his words. “We’ll ask Egwu tomorrow to join us, but it would be useful to have someone else along who speaks the language.”

“So, you’re letting us go with you?”

Domhnall nodded. “Brand and I agreed it’s easier for everyone if we just give in now.”

“I think that’s best.”

“But that’s not all you’re thinking.” A smile played across his lips.

“You’re right again.” I leaned in and kissed him.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

Domhnall and I had shared a lot of kisses and caresses over the past year, starting with our first one last summer in his gardens in Eburwicke. But they’d never had the intensity he showed tonight.

Far too soon, he pulled back from me. “We need to go back. Now.”

“Why?” I asked breathlessly.

“Because I try to treat you as a lady, and right now it’s taking all my self-control not to rip your clothes off.”

“I could take them off myself, and then you wouldn’t have to rip them.” I hoped my light tone concealed my nervousness.

“Is that what you want?”

My body certainly did. I wasn’t sure about the rest of me. “Yes?”

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Abaya:

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With Heartsbane nearly decoded, Nyah finally knows the curse Prince Brandulfur suffers from and how to cure it. But when she and her friends travel to get the needed serum, a powerful caliph takes them prisoner and offers an ultimatum: a suicide mission to rescue a general’s daughter and enough serum to cure Brand’s whole court, or indefinite imprisonment in his castle.

To add to the peril, she soon uncovers a plot by Brand’s archenemy that will pull the known world into a battle between religions and cultures, with Brand at the heart of it. It seems so fantastical, no one will believe her.

But that’s never stopped Nyah before. With no one to trust, she’ll have to cast her lot in with the worst of the worst, and maybe, just maybe, at least some of her friends will make it out alive.

Little Amethyst Abaya is the third book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/23/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverWelcome back to another installment of the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP.

This week I’m continuing to share from my upcoming-ish release, book 3 of my Heartsbane Saga: Little Amethyst Abaya, which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a world of Vikings. Either next week or the week after, I’ll be moving on to the next book in the series.

I’m skipping ahead a bit to chapter 2. Nyah, the protagonist, is mad that the men she’s traveling with are making plans without her for the next stage of their journey. Not only have they told her it’s too dangerous for her to go with them, but she’s not allowed to listen in because she’s a woman and some of the local men object to her presence when talking about “men things.”

* * * * * * *

Domhnall approached me after dinner. “Would you care to go for a walk, m’lady?”

He smiled at me, which usually melted my insides, but this time I just glared at him.

He laughed, only deepening my scowl, and said, “C’mon then.” He took my hand and pulled me up from the low table, then led me out of the compound.

Evenings were my favorite part of the day in Aghlabid. The intense heat of the afternoon had dissipated but the chill of the night hadn’t set in yet. The sun sinking behind the western mountains cast deep purple shadows across the sand and turned the sky beautiful shades of gold, crimson, and indigo.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Domhnall said as we walked along a path towards a large pile of rock sticking up from the sand. We often walked this path to these rocks, which gave us privacy that was nearly impossible in the crowded compound.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

“Oh, do you?” My tone was more playful than I’d intended. I often turned into a giggly, flirty mess when we were alone together.

“Yes.” We’d reached the rocks and he half-sat, half-leaned against one so that he was looking up at me slightly, my hand still in his. “You’re thinking you’re going to come with us no matter what we say or do.”

“True.”

“It’s one thing to put yourself in danger, but what about your sister?”

“You should know by now that if I tried to go somewhere without her, she’d probably steal a boat to follow.”

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Abaya:

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With Heartsbane nearly decoded, Nyah finally knows the curse Prince Brandulfur suffers from and how to cure it. But when she and her friends travel to get the needed serum, a powerful caliph takes them prisoner and offers an ultimatum: a suicide mission to rescue a general’s daughter and enough serum to cure Brand’s whole court, or indefinite imprisonment in his castle.

To add to the peril, she soon uncovers a plot by Brand’s archenemy that will pull the known world into a battle between religions and cultures, with Brand at the heart of it. It seems so fantastical, no one will believe her.

But that’s never stopped Nyah before. With no one to trust, she’ll have to cast her lot in with the worst of the worst, and maybe, just maybe, at least some of her friends will make it out alive.

Little Amethyst Abaya is the third book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

 

 

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/16/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverWelcome back to another installment of the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP.

Last weekend I took I detoured to a mom-related microfiction, and this week I’m back with another excerpt from my upcoming-ish release, book 3 of my Heartsbane Saga: Little Amethyst Abaya, which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a world of Vikings.

This excerpt is from the first chapter, skipping ahead just a teeny bit from the last snippet I posted. Brandulfur, who suffers from a nasty curse that’s left him disfigured, is napping while waiting for a messenger to arrive with an update on the cure. Protagonist Nyah is reading one of her library books in the courtyard. Domnhall is Brand’s foster brother and also the guy Nyah has kinda hooked up with.

* * * * * * *

Because of my spot in the courtyard, I was able to hear the rider as he entered the compound. Feeling a bit of remorse for putting Brand in a mood earlier, as my sister Payton had described it, I figured I could at least let him know that a messenger was here, so I set my book aside and went to find him.

He was asleep in the bedchamber he shared with Domhnall, wearing only a pair of linen breeches. Angry blisters and red welts covered his broad shoulders and muscular torso, distorting the blue runic tattoos that decorated his skin, and his breathing was ragged and labored. I’d noticed that he frequently snuck off in the middle of the day under some pretext or another. I’d asked him once if his curse was painful, and he’d shrugged it off. Egwu had made him an elixir that eased the pain, but apparently nothing had been done for the accompanying fatigue. I almost hated to wake him, knowing how hard he pushed himself to appear healthy and that he probably needed this rest. But I also knew how important the doctor’s visit was, especially as we were making preparations to return home. Brand had extra weight on his shoulders; his father and who knows how many others at court had also been cursed and were depending on Brand to return with the cure.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

“Brand?” I said softly from the doorway.

He let out a very undignified snort but dinnae wake.

“Brand,” I said more loudly.

He stirred but still dinnae wake.

I crossed to his side and shook his shoulder. “Brand, wake up.”

His hand darted out and grabbed my wrist as he bolted upright. I yelped at his hard grasp.

He dropped my arm and glowered at me. “What do you want?”

“A messenger is here.” I rubbed my wrist and glared at him. “Next time I’ll just let you sleep.”

“I’m sorry.” He dinnae sound sorry. “But you shouldn’t have crept up on me like that when I was sleeping.”

“I dinnae ‘creep up on you.’ I merely nudged your shoulder, and you attacked me.”

Now he did look almost apologetic. Almost. “Did I hurt you?”

Before I could answer, he gently took my hand in his, turning my arm so that we could both see the red fingerprints he’d left. He winced.

Domhnall came into the room. “Fahim sent me to find you. As anxious as you’ve been, he was concerned you might be dead since you haven’t appeared.” His gaze went from Brand’s shirtless torso to my wrist in his hand. “Is everything alright?”

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Abaya:

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With Heartsbane nearly decoded, Nyah finally knows the curse Prince Brandulfur suffers from and how to cure it. But when she and her friends travel to get the needed serum, a powerful caliph takes them prisoner and offers an ultimatum: a suicide mission to rescue a general’s daughter and enough serum to cure Brand’s whole court, or indefinite imprisonment in his castle.

To add to the peril, she soon uncovers a plot by Brand’s archenemy that will pull the known world into a battle between religions and cultures, with Brand at the heart of it. It seems so fantastical, no one will believe her.

But that’s never stopped Nyah before. With no one to trust, she’ll have to cast her lot in with the worst of the worst, and maybe, just maybe, at least some of her friends will make it out alive.

Little Amethyst Abaya is the third book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/9/21 #8Sunday

Happy Mother’s Day, Weekend Writing Warriors! I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the weekend with my son, hiking in a local nature preserve and then cooking. He’s inherited my love of the kitchen and made us chicken parmesan with triple chocolate mousse cake (and I’m very proud that I helped him and not the other way around).

Chocolate mousse cake

Since it’s Mother’s Day and my main character in the Heartsbane Saga is an orphan, I thought I’d switch things up and post a flash piece I wrote last year, titled “Motherhood.”

* * * * * * *

Abyzou tells herself she has no regrets. She loves her child and its father. She loves the life they’ve created together, so different from her past.

But outside the weather is changing. Calling to her. And inside, the baby’s cries cannot be consoled. For days now it’s had a slight fever and a new tooth and doesn’t want to be held or set down in its crib. Aby walks the house, bouncing the child in her tired arms, as she longingly glances out the windows at the changing leaves rustling in the cool fall breeze, until finally, finally, the baby falls into an exhausted sleep.

Gingerly she lays it down in the cradle that’s been in its father’s family for generations. She tiptoes to the window and opens it, then backs away, as the wind whips in, caressing her skin like a lover’s touch, murmuring sweet nothings in her ears.

* * * * * * *

And the rest, since it’s short:

She takes a small, tentative step towards the window, then another larger, more confident one, guided by the wind and the beckoning chill beyond the panes of glass. She opens the window wide, inviting in the wild night and all it brings with it, when the baby stirs.

She stops and looks in its crib. By some miracle the child is still asleep. Aby strokes its cheek, just as gently as the wind strokes hers. The baby reaches over and grabs her finger, grasping it firmly in its tiny hand, as a delicate smile graces its lips.

Aby looks at the window, at what she knows waits for her beyond the room’s feeble light, and then back down at her sleeping child. He sighs softly in his sleep, his grip on her never wavering.

Aby carefully scoops him up into her arms, his small warm body fitting perfectly against hers as she walks over and shuts the window.

* * * * * * *

I originally posted this on Medium. I usually post several short stories or microfiction pieces over there each month, so if you use that platform, hop on over and read some of my other stuff, clap, follow, all that good stuff. Thanks!

Weekend Writing Warrior 5/2/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverWelcome back to another installment of the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. I’ll be spending today outside, enjoying the spring weather we get for all of about two weeks (two weeks ago it snowed, and yesterday it was almost 85). Ah, life in the Midwest.

This week I’m continuing to share from my upcoming-ish release, book 3 of my Heartsbane Saga: Little Amethyst Abaya, which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a world of Vikings. So far I’ve shared from the prologue, and this week I’m pulling from the first chapter. Nyah’s friend Brandulfur suffers from a painful curse, and in book 2 (Sleeping Shaman, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty) they traveled to a desert country to find the cure. Nyah has a history of let’s say interesting ways of solving problems that her friends don’t generally appreciate.

* * * * * * *

The hot desert sun beat down on me as I hurried through the dusty streets of Taglayt, the satchel hanging off my shoulder weighed down with several library books. The town boasted a small university with libraries filled with books from all over the world, and I was trying my hardest to read all of them. It also had a lovely bath house, and I’d been sorely tempted to soak away the sweat and dirt clinging to my skin before returning to our host’s compound. But I’d already been gone longer than I’d intended.

Fahim Al Rasheed’s compound was located on a hill just outside of town. I slowly approached the brick walls surrounding the courtyards and central buildings, on the lookout for anyone who might notice my return. Fortunately no one was about, and I was able to sneak in and place my satchel in the bed chamber I shared with my younger sister, Payton. My luck ran out, however, as I crept down the hallway leading to the kitchen.

“Where have you been?” Prince Brandulfur Gudrodarson of Karjaland loomed over me, a scowl visible even through the welts and blisters covering his face.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

“Here.” I shrugged as I tried to get past him. “Nowhere.”

He folded his arms across his chest. “Where, exactly, would that be?”

I thought about telling him I’d been in Fahim’s study with him, answering his questions about my home country of Llogeria. Or in the kitchens with his wife Radiya, helping her prepare the midday meal. Or in the nursery with my sister, playing with the babies who lived in the compound. Or with Lord Domhnall—I blushed, thinking of what we would’ve been doing.

Before I could respond, however, Brand sighed. “How many times do I have to tell you, it isn’t safe for you to leave here by yourself?”

Now it was my turn to scowl. “I can take care of myself just fine.”

“Like how you almost got us all killed?”

“I seem to remember that I saved us all.”

Another sigh from Brand. Perhaps he’d finally come around to remembering the events the same way I did.

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Abaya:

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With Heartsbane nearly decoded, Nyah finally knows the curse Prince Brandulfur suffers from and how to cure it. But when she and her friends travel to get the needed serum, a powerful caliph takes them prisoner and offers an ultimatum: a suicide mission to rescue a general’s daughter and enough serum to cure Brand’s whole court, or indefinite imprisonment in his castle.

To add to the peril, she soon uncovers a plot by Brand’s archenemy that will pull the known world into a battle between religions and cultures, with Brand at the heart of it. It seems so fantastical, no one will believe her.

But that’s never stopped Nyah before. With no one to trust, she’ll have to cast her lot in with the worst of the worst, and maybe, just maybe, at least some of her friends will make it out alive.

Little Amethyst Abaya is the third book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Weekend Writing Warrior 4/25/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverAnother Sunday, another Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. This week I’m continuing to share from my upcoming-ish release, book 3 of my Heartsbane Saga: Little Amethyst Abaya, which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a world of Vikings.

This snippet is from the opening prologue. Mihrimah is the daughter of the general in charge of a remote citadel. Her father and all the men garrisoned at the citadel were called back to the capital. She snuck out to say goodbye to her beloved as he was leaving, and on her way back was happened upon by one of the bandits currently terrorizing the countryside, who is trying to sweet talk her for information about the citadel’s defenses.

This excerpt skips just a bit from last week’s. They’ve reached the citadel, and the man has alerted his pack. (Note: Sidi is a term for “sir” or “mister.”)

* * * * * * *

Mihrimah shoved her companion inside the citadel, then pushed the door shut behind them. “Bar the door,” she told the frightened woman who’d let them in.

The woman did as she was told, her eyes alternating between the door and the wolf man, who was looking around the citadel.

The main door opened onto a small antechamber, with stairs leading up to the main living quarters and down to the stables, although they didn’t keep many horses and only enough goats and chickens to supply themselves with milk and eggs.

“Go upstairs,” Mihrimah told the serving woman. “Prepare a meal for our guest, and inform Grandmother that he’s here.”

The woman nodded and hurried away.

“What a beautiful home you have,” the man said as he approached Mihrimah.

She backed up, quickly hitting the stone wall behind her. “The better to welcome you, Sidi Wolf.”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

He reached out a hand and again stroked her cheek. “What a beautiful smile you have.”

“The better to serve you with, Sidi Wolf.”

Outside, someone began banging on the door, and he was soon joined by many others.

The wolf man grinned at her. “It looks like my pack is ready to join us.”

Mihrimah unsheathed her short sword as the man tried to kiss her neck and brandished it in his face.

He laughed nervously. “What a beautiful little sword you have, my dear.”

“The better to kill you with,” she snarled, and plunged the blade into his stomach.

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Abaya:

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With Heartsbane nearly decoded, Nyah finally knows the curse Prince Brandulfur suffers from and how to cure it. But when she and her friends travel to get the needed serum, a powerful caliph takes them prisoner and offers an ultimatum: a suicide mission to rescue a general’s daughter and enough serum to cure Brand’s whole court, or indefinite imprisonment in his castle.

To add to the peril, she soon uncovers a plot by Brand’s archenemy that will pull the known world into a battle between religions and cultures, with Brand at the heart of it. It seems so fantastical, no one will believe her.

But that’s never stopped Nyah before. With no one to trust, she’ll have to cast her lot in with the worst of the worst, and maybe, just maybe, at least some of her friends will make it out alive.

Little Amethyst Abaya is the third book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Weekend Writing Warrior 4/18/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverWelcome back to the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where a bunch of writers share 8-10 sentences from a current or recent WIP. This week I’m continuing to share from my upcoming release, book 3 of my Heartsbane Saga: Little Amethyst Abaya, which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a world of Vikings.

This snippet is from the opening prologue. Mihrimah is the daughter of the general in charge of a remote citadel. Her father and all the men garrisoned at the citadel were called back to the capital. She was supposed to stay put but snuck out to say goodbye to her beloved. And of course her father caught them. I’m skipping ahead just a bit, to after her father sent her back but cautioned her to be careful.

* * * * * * *

The journey back was as uneventful as the one to meet the men. Dusk was falling and the top of the stone citadel was just in sight when Mihrimah caught movement in the scrub ahead of her.

She froze, remembering all the training her father had given her, all her practice alongside and against the citadel soldiers.
Whoever it was, he was between her and the citadel, and Messenger knew how many others were with him. She could sneak past him, perhaps, but what of the others? She bit her lip, then stepped onto the road.

She’d covered only a short distance when footsteps crunched behind her.

“Hello, my dear,” a male voice called out. “Do you live near here? I’m afraid I’m lost.”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

She turned around and nearly gasped. A man wearing a matted wolfskin hide over his tunic leered at her.

“I do live near here, Sidi Wolf,” she said, dropping her eyes demurely.

“I’m glad I found you, lalla. It’s getting dark, and I have nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. Would they give me a meal at your home, do you think?”

“Oh yes, Sidi Wolf. All our men have been called back to Haksuk, and it is only the women who are left in the citadel. We have plenty of hot meals that will go to waste.” She coyly looked up at him. “And warm beds that will be empty.”

The man grinned at her, revealing a mouth of yellowed, broken teeth. “It’s been a long while since I’ve had a warm bed.”

“Are you alone?” she asked.

“Nah, there’s a whole pack of us out here. But maybe I’d like those meals and warm beds for myself, at least tonight.

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Abaya:

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With Heartsbane nearly decoded, Nyah finally knows the curse Prince Brandulfur suffers from and how to cure it. But when she and her friends travel to get the needed serum, a powerful caliph takes them prisoner and offers an ultimatum: a suicide mission to rescue a general’s daughter and enough serum to cure Brand’s whole court, or indefinite imprisonment in his castle.

To add to the peril, she soon uncovers a plot by Brand’s archenemy that will pull the known world into a battle between religions and cultures, with Brand at the heart of it. It seems so fantastical, no one will believe her.

But that’s never stopped Nyah before. With no one to trust, she’ll have to cast her lot in with the worst of the worst, and maybe, just maybe, at least some of her friends will make it out alive.

Little Amethyst Abaya is the third book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings.

Other books in the Heartsbane Saga:

Book .5: “The Maiden in the Tower” – Carys has resigned herself to a life of servitude, locked away in a tower, until a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her daring to hope for more.

Book 1: Captive and the Cursed – When Nyah’s sister is kidnapped by barbarians, Nyah offers herself in her place. But she soon learns the barbarians aren’t what she expected, especially their cursed leader.

Book 1.5: “The Brave Little Thrall” – Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to experience them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.

Book 2: Sleeping Shaman – Nyah and her friends travel halfway across the world seeking a cure for a barbarian curse, only to discover that the man they’re seeking has gone missing. Nyah must navigate dangerous rivalries and conflicting cultures before time runs out.

Book 2.5: “Ezichi the Beautiful” – Only Banu Sasan, the fabled witch of the desert, can help a young bride complete a task. But what will she require from Ezichi in return?

Spring 2021 goal review

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane still does not care about my goals.

Once again, it’s time for my quarterly check-in to see how I’m doing with the goals I set for myself in January.

I started a new job in January, doing intake assessments at the psychiatric hospital that recently opened in town. I’m enjoying it pretty well, although the schedule of three consecutive days of 12-hour shifts looks a lot nicer on paper than it does actually working it – especially when that third day rolls around and my brain is numb. And especially especially when I pick up an extra shift. My bank account is loving it, but my writing goals not so much.

Anyways.

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. Books .5, 1, and 2 are all out. Books 1.5, 2.5, and 3 are ready to go as soon as I’m done with edits. Soon, I hope.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I just checked and I’ve published 15 stories on Medium this year, which averages out to about one a week. Not twice a week, as per my goal, but still pretty good. Most of it is microfiction, but that’s okay. It’s something.
  3. Marketing. Brian Cohen just started another Amazon ads mini course this week, and I’m hoping to follow along. My Amazon ads have been doing decent for sales, and I want to kick them up a bit. I’ve also started participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior blog hop again after a long absence, which is helping with marketing a bit too, I think.
  4. Travel travel travel. I made it to Dodge City, KS, in February. The museum was a bit of a whitewashed disappointment, but I still enjoyed getting out on the Plains. On that trip I also ate at a delicious German restaurant in Wichita, explored Truckhenge in Topeka (not as good as Carhenge or even Cadillac Ranch, but A for effort), and managed to sweet talk my way into a private self-guided tour through a closed-for-renovations psychiatric museum in St. Joseph, MO. A couple weeks ago my kid and I went to Chicago for his belated birthday trip and found some awesome arepas, which is his thing right now. This weekend I hope to go to Detroit and eat pasties from the Eastern Market, Middle Eastern from my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn, Belgian from this little restaurant with awesome beer, and maybe even some Aramaic from this Chaldean restaurant. Yes, I am all about food when I travel. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’m hoping to use my 3-4 day weekends for some solo vanlife hiking trips pretty regularly.
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I Marie Kondo’d my living room last year and it’s still pretty good. Now I’m nearly done with my dining room; my dad is building me a big floor-to-ceiling cabinet so I can organize all my kitchen gadgets and pantry stuff. Next it’ll be on to my office, which is a godawful mess.
  6. Read 100 books. My usual goal. I’m currently at about 16/30 books, but I’ve been able to read a bit recently at work to catch up (another nice perk of the job; when we’re full or on hold for admissions at night, my supervisor doesn’t mind if we read or whatever as long as we’re caught up with everything else). I’ve also started going to the gym 2-3 times a week, and I read for about 20 minutes while walking on the treadmill. Two birds with one stone and all that.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

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