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Weekend Writing Warrior 1/10/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane logoFor the next month or two, I’m moving on to the next standalone short story in my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. “Ezichi the Beautiful” is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa the Beautiful, about a girl who gets help from the witch Baba Yaga to complete tasks set by her evil stepmother. It’ll be out in the next week or two.

This week’s snippet is from the beginning of the story. Ezichi is the sister of one of the main characters, and she was supposed to be killed off but my beta readers liked her too much so I’m sticking her in this side story. This part continues from last week.

* * * * * * *

Within a week, Kwaku had left his household for the distant city of Duguba. Ezichi was on her best behavior when it came to interacting with his other wives: doing all the chores Yaba assigned to her—which in her opinion seemed to be most of them, biting her tongue from saying what she really thought of them, and finally just avoiding them when she could. This last part proved difficult, however, as Kwaku, like most Aghlabidi men, encouraged his wives to stay confined to the home, and while the women’s quarters were big, they weren’t big enough for two large personalities like Ezichi and Yaba.

One particular afternoon, when she was trying to hide from Yaba’s shrill demands, Ezichi found herself thinking about her life before marrying Kwaku. She tried not to let herself do this too often; she wasn’t the type of person to wallow in self-pity. But she missed that life. Her father had given her the freedom to do whatever she wanted: visit the university libraries and the markets, choose and reject her own suitors, nearly everything her twin brother had been able to do. But by a twist of events she still didn’t fully understand, she’d woken one day to find herself hundreds or maybe thousands of leagues from home, with no way back. So when the marriage offer had come from Kwaku, she’d accepted it and resigned herself to make the best of her situation. But that didn’t mean she didn’t want to go home.

“So why don’t you?” asked a little voice beside her.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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 visit 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.

Resolutions: 2020 review and 2021 goals

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane still does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year: looking back on my goals for the previous year and then setting goals for the new year.

2020 goals

First off, I’m gonna preface this by pointing out that 2020 was just a weird year that sucked for everyone. That said, here’s how I did this year.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories. Books 1 and 2 are OUT!!! Short story .5 has also been released, and 1.5 and 2.5 are coming very soon. I had to push the preorders back a little bit (and 1.5 is almost 3 months overdue at this point), but at least I got them out! And I have a schedule set for the rest of the series too.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month. I was doing well with this, and then the publication I’d been submitting to stopped publishing. And then Medium changed its layouts and a lot of fiction writers abandoned the platform due to a 90% drop in income. This year I published 28 stories to Medium – which means I hit this goal!! 2/2 so far!
  3. Continue to increase my networking. This was hit-or-miss in terms of reading and sharing other writers’ stuff. BUT I did rejoin the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop and I comment on every single other post each week. And believe it or not, but I actually see an increase in my own reads on Medium when I’m actively engaged on clapping for others’ stuff. Who knew?
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior. This didn’t happen this year. I knew it wouldn’t happen this year. BUT I am starting a new job in a couple weeks. It’s a very significant pay increase so this could actually be an attainable goal in the next year or so.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I was about halfway there. I repainted and organized my living room, dining room, and front entryway. I’ve also gotten rid of a ton of stuff I don’t need/use. I just moved back into my office a couple weeks ago and now I’m slowly going through all the crap I have stashed in there (mostly yarn). More importantly, I’ve been able to KEEP my downstairs from re-cluttering.
  6. Read 100 books. Man I sucked so bad at this. While I had more time to read this year due to working from home, I had a really hard time finding anything that kept my interest. I finished 37 books last year. (If you add in all the books I started but didn’t read more than a chapter or so, I probably hit my goal – but I only count those I finish). My annual breakdown of what I read will be along shortly.

Overall in 2020

I hit my main goal, which was to publish my Heartsbane Saga series. Considering I’ve been trying to do that for years, I think 2020 counts as a success.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. As I said above, I have a set publication schedule for the rest of them. Sometimes I might have to adjust it a bit, but having that schedule – and announcing it to the world – has helped with accountability. So has setting preorders for the main books; Amazon only lets you change it once, and then you lose preorder privileges for a year. That’s been a HUGE motivator for me, especially seeing as how people are preordering!
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’ve found several Medium microfiction publications with weekly prompts, and there’s really no excuse for not being able to write 50 or 100 words for these. Plus I just joined Microfiction for Lunch as a contributor, and that requires something weekly. They take older stuff, but I’m trying to write new stuff. I’d also like to get back to writing longer stories.
  3. Marketing. I did Brian Cohen’s Amazon ads course a couple times in 2020 and it resulted in more sales from September-December than I’d had in the past three years COMBINED (part of that was due to releasing 3 new books, but I also saw a lot of movement on my backlist stuff). This year I want to really ramp up my advertising and marketing, not only with Amazon ads but Facebook ads and maybe blog tours too.
  4. Travel travel travel. My kid reminded me that I owe him several trips due to COVID. We tried to go to NYC over spring break last year, but only made it as far as Boston before everything shut down, so we need to head back there (which is okay, because we had tickets to STOMP and Phantom of the Opera which I was super excited about). I take him on a trip for his birthday every year, but everything was re-shut down so I owe him a trip to Chicago. We wanted to do a long weekend on a beach but with the COVID surge we held off, so I owe him a trip to Pensacola (the closest beach to us). And several years ago I promised to take him backpacking around Europe over the summer before he went into high school, which is this summer (gods I feel old). In addition to that, I bought a minivan last year and made an effort to knock places off my bucket list, which is easy to do when you’re living out of your van. I hit Carhenge, and Zzyzx Rd in California, and Rte 6 east so that I’ve now driven its entire length in the US. Top of my list this year is Dodge City, KS, because Gunsmoke, as well as the Florida Keys if the Bahamas open back up. And Canada. I haven’t been there for a while either. So many trips!!
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. My downstairs is looking good, but the upstairs is still a mess. And the basement. Dear gods how have I accumulated so much stuff?? I’ve realized my house, as much as I love it, is too big (yeah, I know, first world problem). I’d love to be able to downsize to maybe a 1-bedroom place when my kid graduates in a few years (or that cabin in MI), and there’s no way I can do that with all my stuff.
  6. Read 100 books. My usual goal. I want to continue my around-the-world challenge and knock out at least 1/3 of this goal with those books.

The good news is, I’m starting a new job in a couple weeks that consists of 3 12-hour shifts a week, rather than 5 8-hour ones, and I’m hoping that’ll give me more time to write and read and travel and do stuff I need to do. Or, more realistically, more time to waste on procrastinating but still more time to do stuff. On the other hand, I tend to work more efficiently when I have less free time, so we’ll see how it goes.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Weekend Writing Warrior 1/3/21 #8Sunday

For the next month or two, I’m moving on to the next standalone short story in my Heartsbane Saga series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. “Ezichi the Beautiful” is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa the Beautiful, about a girl who gets help from the witch Baba Yaga to complete tasks set by her evil stepmother.

This week’s snippet is from the beginning of the story. Ezichi is the sister of one of the main characters, and she was supposed to be killed off but my beta readers liked her too much so I’m sticking her in this side story.

* * * * * * *

“I will miss you, o jewel of my heart,” Kwaku said to his wife, Ezichi, as they lay in bed next to each other.

Ezichi was glad for the bedchamber’s darkness as she rolled her eyes. As far as husbands went, Kwaku wasn’t a bad man. He was always polite to her, never laid a hand on anyone in his house, and, more importantly, he’d taken her as a wife and not a concubine. But he was also dull, while prone to dramatic language, and he had a short attention span. Ezichi was sure she was his current favorite wife only because she was his newest, and she had no doubts that she would be set aside whenever he could afford the next one.

“Don’t you want to know why I will miss you?” Kwaku asked with a tinge of petulance in his voice.

“Are you going on a trip?” she asked him, knowing full well this was the case.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

He traveled frequently, arranging trade deals to buy and sell gold and salt among the southern tribes, And she’d heard his first wife, Yaba, talking about it earlier today.

“As much as it pains me to leave your side, I must travel to Duguba. The monsoons will come while I’m gone, so it will be many moons before I return.”

“I will miss you too, pride of my soul.” She barely managed to keep a straight face at that endearment, but Kwaku didn’t seem to notice.

“I know that you are still adapting to my household.” He stroked her arm. If he noticed that she tensed at this reminder of her loss of freedom, he didn’t say anything. “Yaba will teach you everything you need to know. She’s a good woman. You would do well to learn from her.”

Not for the first time, and probably not for the last either, Ezichi wondered how a man as successful as Kwaku could be so blind as to what went on in his own home, and as to the true nature of his own wives.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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 visit 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.

Weekend Writing Warrior 12/27/20 #8Sunday

Sleeping Shaman coverThis week will be the last time I share from Sleeping Shaman, my retelling of Sleeping Beauty set in my Heartsbane Saga Viking world. Next week I’m moving on to the next standalone short story in the series, “Ezichi the Beautiful,” a retelling of the Russian fairy tale “Vasilisa the Beautiful” which comes out January 15th-ish. I’d intended to start posting that one this week, but it seems like everyone wanted to know what happened with the kiss request last week, so here you go. Merry Christmas!

Protagonist Nyah bumped into Domhnall, a man she traveled with when she was with the barbarians in book 1. It turns out he’s an earl, something he didn’t tell her in book 1. He invited her and her sister to dinner, and then invited them to travel with him to a faraway country to find a cure for the curse affecting Brandulfur, another book 1 character.

After dinner, Nyah and Domhnall are taking a walk through his gardens, and, ever the gentleman, he asked if he could kiss her.

* * * * * * *

I nodded, and he leaned in and pressed his lips gently against mine.

It wasn’t my first kiss—I’d kissed Wynne any number of times—but it was so much different with Domhnall. He put his hand on my back, holding me to him, and a warmth suffused through my body. Eyes closed, I leaned into him before he changed into the memory of a forceful, rancid-smelling bandit thrusting his tongue into my mouth. I stiffened and pulled away.

“We should be going.” I turned and quickly walked back towards the house, calling, “Dar? Payton? We need to leave.”

Domhnall chased after me. “I didn’t mean to offend—”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

“No, it’s nothing you did.” I cut him off. “It’s late, and Payton’s sick, and Dar needs to rise early for work, and….”

“Alright.” He studied me for a moment. “I’ll send for the cart to take you home.”

“Thank you.”

We walked in silence, meeting Payton and Dar near the gate into the street.

“Please think about coming with us to Aghlabid,” he said as we climbed into the cart.

“We will, Lord Domhnall,” Payton said. “Thank you for dinner! We’ll see you soon, I hope?”

“I hope so as well,” he responded.

“Me too,” I whispered as the cart pulled away.

* * * * * * *

About Sleeping Shaman, available now at Amazon:

The desert holds many secrets. Will death be one of them?

Nyah thought she’d fit in better in the capital rather than in her tiny village, but life in the big city is tougher than she anticipated. When she stumbles across a familiar face, she gladly jumps at the chance for a new adventure with her barbarian friends. They’re headed to Egwu’s home country where they hope his scholar father can translate Heartsbane, the book that holds the cure for Prince Brandulfur’s debilitating curse.

Their plans change as soon as they arrive and discover that Egwu’s family is missing, most likely cursed as well. And meanwhile time is running out for Brand, who grows weaker every day.

Nyah vows to save her friend by solving the mystery of Egwu’s missing family, but she didn’t anticipate all the obstacles in her way: a deadly rivalry between two families, a clash of powerful cultures, and a budding romance that seems destined for heartbreak. She’ll need all her wits to outsmart her opponent—that is, if she can even figure out who it is.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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 visit 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.

Weekend Writing Warrior 12/20/20 #8Sunday

Sleeping Shaman coverI’m continuing this week with Sleeping Shaman, which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that just released this week!

Protagonist Nyah has taken a job as a maid and is so preoccupied with how she and her sick sister will make ends meet, that she ends up throwing a bucket of water on Domhnall, a man she traveled with in book 1 when she was with the barbarians. He invited her and her sister to dinner, and then she found out that he’s an earl and one of the most powerful people in the country.

We’re skipping ahead just a bit to after dinner. Nyah and Domhnall are taking a walk through his gardens.

* * * * * * *

“You look beautiful tonight, m’lady,” he said.

I hoped it was dark enough that he couldn’t see my burning cheeks. “Thank you for sending the clothing. We dinnae have much finery.”

“It’s not just the dress.” He stopped and turned towards me, taking my hands in his.

I narrowed my eyes. The last time he’d taken me aside like this, it was to persuade me to help him and Brand convince local village councils to help them raise an army for King Anslec, and he’d led me to believe I’d be given my freedom in exchange for my cooperation. It hadn’t been the case. I wasn’t sure what his motives were this time, and I wouldn’t let myself be deceived so easily.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

“Why dinnae you tell me you’re an earl?” I asked to break the moment.

“A title shouldn’t define a man. Would you have treated me differently, had you known?”

“Brandulfur is a prince, and I treat him like I would anyone else.”

“You’re a rare one, Nyah, who sees past people’s stations to the person underneath.”

I shrugged, unsure of what to say. I’d been raised on stories of rags-to-riches heroes, in a village where the hereditary leader was barely competent. In my experience, a person’s station had little bearing on who they were or what they could become.

Domhnall was watching me intently. I looked up at him, into his hazel eyes.

“May I kiss you?” he asked softly.

* * * * * * *

About Sleeping Shaman, available now at Amazon:

The desert holds many secrets. Will death be one of them?

Nyah thought she’d fit in better in the capital rather than in her tiny village, but life in the big city is tougher than she anticipated. When she stumbles across a familiar face, she gladly jumps at the chance for a new adventure with her barbarian friends. They’re headed to Egwu’s home country where they hope his scholar father can translate Heartsbane, the book that holds the cure for Prince Brandulfur’s debilitating curse.

Their plans change as soon as they arrive and discover that Egwu’s family is missing, most likely cursed as well. And meanwhile time is running out for Brand, who grows weaker every day.

Nyah vows to save her friend by solving the mystery of Egwu’s missing family, but she didn’t anticipate all the obstacles in her way: a deadly rivalry between two families, a clash of powerful cultures, and a budding romance that seems destined for heartbreak. She’ll need all her wits to outsmart her opponent—that is, if she can even figure out who it is.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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 visit 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.

Weekend Writing Warrior 12/13/20 #8Sunday

Sleeping Shaman coverI’m continuing this week with Sleeping Shaman, which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that will be out on Tuesday! Protagonist Nyah has taken a job as a maid and is so preoccupied with how she and her sick sister will make ends meet, that she ends up throwing a bucket of water on Domnhall, a man she traveled with in book 1 when she was with the barbarians.

Last week, he asked he naively asked her why she was working as a maid. This week picks up right after that.

* * * * * * *

“I went by your inn, looking for you, but they said you’d left.” He frowned. “If you need money, you need only ask.”

I shook my head and said, “Egwu and Brand already gave us so much. I dinnae want to be reliant on you as well.”

“Then at least have dinner with me tonight.” He flashed me a smile that caused butterflies to sprout in my stomach, and I mentally tried to squash them.

“I can’t. Payton and Dar are expecting me at home when I finish here.”

“They can come too.”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

His smile widened. “I’ll send a cart for you. Where are you staying?”

Despite my reservations, I smiled back and told him where our lodgings were.

“Wonderful.” He kissed my hand, just as Lord Hankes returned with his butler and a fresh tunic. “I’m so glad to see you again, m’lady. Until tonight!”

The butler led him away to change. I hurried to my next tasks in the kitchens, trying not to laugh at the expression on Lord Hankes’ face when Domhnall kissed my hand.

Several of the household staff looked at me in awe and envy as I emptied out the little water that remained in my bucket.

“How do you know the Earl of Peithwyr?” one of the girls asked me.

“Who?”

“The earl,” she repeated. “That man you spilled the water on.”

“He’s the Earl of Peithwyr, for now,” another girl explained. “And he’ll become the next Duke of Cruithain, steward to the king, just as his da before him.”

My jaw dropped. Domhnall was nearly as powerful as Brand. Why hadn’t he told me that? What else had they kept from me?

* * * * * * *

About Sleeping Shaman, available now for preorder from Amazon:

The desert holds many secrets. Will death be one of them?

Nyah thought she’d fit in better in the capital rather than in her tiny village, but life in the big city is tougher than she anticipated. When she stumbles across a familiar face, she gladly jumps at the chance for a new adventure with her barbarian friends. They’re headed to Egwu’s home country where they hope his scholar father can translate Heartsbane, the book that holds the cure for Prince Brandulfur’s debilitating curse.

Their plans change as soon as they arrive and discover that Egwu’s family is missing, most likely cursed as well. And meanwhile time is running out for Brand, who grows weaker every day.

Nyah vows to save her friend by solving the mystery of Egwu’s missing family, but she didn’t anticipate all the obstacles in her way: a deadly rivalry between two families, a clash of powerful cultures, and a budding romance that seems destined for heartbreak. She’ll need all her wits to outsmart her opponent—that is, if she can even figure out who it is.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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.

Weekend Writing Warrior 12/6/20 #8Sunday

Sleeping Shaman cover

I’m continuing this week with that next release, Sleeping Shaman, which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Protagonist Nyah has taken a job as a maid and is so preoccupied with how she and her sick sister will make ends meet, that she ends up throwing a bucket of water on Domnhall, a man she traveled with in book 1 when she was with the barbarians.

* * * * * * *

Domhnall simply chuckled. I blinked at his unexpected reaction. But Lord Hankes, the nobleman I served, wore a bitter scowl from beside Domhnall.

“How dare you address his lordship so informally!” Before I could react, Lord Hankes slapped my face, then turned to Domhnall. “I’m so sorry, Lord Domhnall. The girl is new to us, and she’ll be let go immediately.”

I bit back an angry retort, trying as well to push down my shame at Domhnall seeing me like this, and dropped my eyes in what I hoped came across as contriteness.

Domhnall’s mirth disappeared as he addressed Lord Hankes, his eyes flashing. “Is this how you treat the servants in your house? You owe the apology to m’lady, not to me.”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

Lord Hankes mouth dropped open. “But, my lordship….” He gestured at the front of Domhnall’s tunic, which was soaked through.

“If my clothing concerns you so much, then go fetch me something to dry myself.”

“Yes, yes,” Lord Hankes stammered before quickly walking through the hall, calling for his butler and another maid.

As soon as he was gone, Domhnall broke into his familiar smile. “Nyah! How have you been? I’d hoped that you’d come by the castle to see us, but we haven’t heard from you in weeks. Are you well?”

Me, a commoner, try to go to the castle to speak with the crown prince of Karjaland and his friends? I stopped myself from laughing in his face. “Yes, we’re well.” And by well, I meant tired and worried about Payton’s health, our finances, and the future in general. I sighed. “I shouldn’t be talking to you when Lord Hankes comes back.”

“You shouldn’t be working for him either. Of all the households in the city, how did you end up here?”

“I most likely won’t be working here much longer, not after this.” I gave him what I hoped was a genuine smile. “I’ll try to find a better lord to serve next time.”

“You shouldn’t be working like this at all.”

“And how else can I support my sister? There’s only so much honest work for a village peasant.” The words came out more bitterly than I’d intended, but I dinnae apologize. If I was dismissed from this position, who would want to hire me next?

* * * * * * *

About Sleeping Shaman, available now for preorder from Amazon:

The desert holds many secrets. Will death be one of them?

Nyah thought she’d fit in better in the capital rather than in her tiny village, but life in the big city is tougher than she anticipated. When she stumbles across a familiar face, she gladly jumps at the chance for a new adventure with her barbarian friends. They’re headed to Egwu’s home country where they hope his scholar father can translate Heartsbane, the book that holds the cure for Prince Brandulfur’s debilitating curse.

Their plans change as soon as they arrive and discover that Egwu’s family is missing, most likely cursed as well. And meanwhile time is running out for Brand, who grows weaker every day.

Nyah vows to save her friend by solving the mystery of Egwu’s missing family, but she didn’t anticipate all the obstacles in her way: a deadly rivalry between two families, a clash of powerful cultures, and a budding romance that seems destined for heartbreak. She’ll need all her wits to outsmart her opponent—that is, if she can even figure out who it is.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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.

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/29/20 #8Sunday

Sleeping Shaman coverThis year…amiright?

I pushed back the release of Heartsbane Saga book 2, Sleeping Shaman, to December 15th (originally set for Dec 1st) because, as much as I love writing and my day job, sometimes I just need the self-care of YouTube and crocheting. I currently work as a care coordinator for people who present to the local hospitals with substance use and mental health crises. If you’ve ever experienced substance use, or know someone who has, you know that it can be a lifelong struggle. And damn is it a struggle for some of my clients (especially this week, as some of them relapsed pretty spectacularly…like, near-manslaughter spectacularly). Combined with COVID recovery, there’s been lots of YouTube and crocheting and not much writing recently.

I’m continuing this week with that next release, Sleeping Shaman, which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It starts with the protagonist, Nyah, relocating to the capital city from her tiny village to try to start a new life for herself. This scene is from chapter 1, picking up a month or two after last week’s excerpt. Nyah has found work as a maid for a nobleman, and her younger sister Payton is sick again.

* * * * * * *

I weighed my options as I scrubbed the floor of my lord’s entry hall. The day was sticky, with no air flowing through the hall, and I missed the breezes that blew off the river flowing past Orllewinol, cooling the village. I missed our cottage and the flowers Mother had planted in the small yard. I missed Father, and my friend Gillian, and even Wynne and Earc. Mostly, I missed the life we’d had before, even if I hadn’t liked the future it held for me. Had we stayed, I’d most likely be married to Wynne by now, pregnant with our first child. As bhantiarna, there’d be others—maids like me—to help around Wynne and Earc’s large house, especially when I was with child. I’d be free to spend my days reading or walking along the river. Payton would mostly likely be preparing for her own wedding, to Dar, who’d be able to support them and their children .

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

I’d need to sell the last horse. As much as I appreciated the gesture from Egwu and Brandulfur, giving us three horses was more a burden than a gift. And it wasn’t as if we had need for them, not in the city. I probably should have tracked down Egwu and given the horses back, or at least offered, but I dinnae want him to know how poorly we’d faired in Eburwicke. I dinnae know much about his life in Aghlabid, but I assumed he was a prince or the Aghlabidi equivalent, based on how he interacted with Brand and Domhnall, Brand’s second-in-command as they’d traveled the country to raise an army for the Llogerian king. He wouldn’t understand our struggles but he’d give us money, if I asked, and I dinnae want to rely on him or Brand. Whatever had happened to us in our village, I’d made the choice to come to the capital, and I’d own the consequences, whatever they may be.

The coins from the sale of the horse, together with Dar’s and my meager salaries, would tide us over for the summer. But we’d left our village with little, and we’d need warmer clothes for the winter, especially for Dar if he continued to work on the docks. Our room had no source of heat, not a problem now, but we’d need to buy a brazier or find other lodging come fall.

I sighed as I stood, picked up my bucket of dirty water, turned, and promptly spilled the bucket down the front of—

“Domhnall?”

* * * * * * *

About Sleeping Shaman, available now for preorder from Amazon:

The desert holds many secrets. Will death be one of them?

Nyah thought she’d fit in better in the capital rather than in her tiny village, but life in the big city is tougher than she anticipated. When she stumbles across a familiar face, she gladly jumps at the chance for a new adventure with her barbarian friends. They’re headed to Egwu’s home country where they hope his scholar father can translate Heartsbane, the book that holds the cure for Prince Brandulfur’s debilitating curse.

Their plans change as soon as they arrive and discover that Egwu’s family is missing, most likely cursed as well. And meanwhile time is running out for Brand, who grows weaker every day.

Nyah vows to save her friend by solving the mystery of Egwu’s missing family, but she didn’t anticipate all the obstacles in her way: a deadly rivalry between two families, a clash of powerful cultures, and a budding romance that seems destined for heartbreak. She’ll need all her wits to outsmart her opponent—that is, if she can even figure out who it is.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

Heartsbane Saga – fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings!

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.

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/22/20 #8Sunday

Sleeping Shaman coverUgh, COVID is not fun. I’m mostly recovered, except for the fatigue. Just walking up and down the steps in my house can wear me out by the end of the day. Which means, of course, more napping and less writing.

BUT I have a schedule to stick to! “The Brave Little Thrall,” which I’ve been posting from for the past month, should be up on Amazon by tonight, and book 2 in my Heartsbane Saga series, Sleeping Shaman, will hopefully be out December 1st! So, with that new release on the horizon, I’m switching to that story for the next few weeks.

Sleeping Shaman picks up where book 1, Captive and the Cursed, left off. MC Nyah, accompanied by her 15-year-old sister Payton and Payton’s sweetheart Dar, has left her village and gone to the capital city to find her fortune. Or so she thought.

This is from chapter 1. Prince Brandulfur escorted Nyah, Payton, and Dar to an inn, then gave them some money to get settled in before wishing them a nice life and taking his leave.

* * * * * * *

“Payton, you and I will take this one,” I said as I opened the door to one of the two rooms I’d rented for us. I pointed down the hallway. “Dar, you’ll sleep there.”

“Thank you, Bhantiarna,” he said as he opened his own door.

“You dinnae need to call me that. I’m not the tánaistae’s betrothed anymore.” Wynne, my former sweetheart, was the son of the toísech, the village leader, and I’d had a title as well. I’d been trying for months to get Dar to stop using it, but to no avail.

“Why can’t Dar and I share a room?” Payton asked, her fists on her hips.

I looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

“What? We shared a bed while you were traipsing around with the barbarians.”

Dar quickly slipped into his room and shut the door.

“You make it sound like I chose to join his army,” I said.

“But you did. You went there and told them you were joining them.”

“I only did it so that you wouldn’t have to!”

Payton threw up her hands. “I dinnae ask you to do that!”

“So I should have left you with them?”

“I dinnae know why you’re punishing me for what happened.”

“Not sharing a bed with Dar is not punishment.”

“It sure seems like it!”

“Had you been able to control your…your…your feelings in the first place, you never would’ve been attacked by those barbarians and we’d still be safe at home in Orllewinol.”

“Is that what you’re punishing me for, then? I hate you sometimes, Nyah.” She strode into the room and slammed the door behind her.

“I hate you too sometimes,” I called through the shut door.

Her response was a loud thud as something, maybe her shoe, hit the door.

I sighed. Our new life in Eburwicke was not off to a good start.

* * * * * * *

About Sleeping Shaman, available now for preorder from Amazon:

The desert holds many secrets. Will death be one of them?

Nyah thought she’d fit in better in the capital rather than in her tiny village, but life in the big city is tougher than she anticipated. When she stumbles across a familiar face, she gladly jumps at the chance for a new adventure with her barbarian friends. They’re headed to Egwu’s home country where they hope his scholar father can translate Heartsbane, the book that holds the cure for Prince Brandulfur’s debilitating curse.

Their plans change as soon as they arrive and discover that Egwu’s family is missing, most likely cursed as well. And meanwhile time is running out for Brand, who grows weaker every day.

Nyah vows to save her friend by solving the mystery of Egwu’s missing family, but she didn’t anticipate all the obstacles in her way: a deadly rivalry between two families, a clash of powerful cultures, and a budding romance that seems destined for heartbreak. She’ll need all her wits to outsmart her opponent—that is, if she can even figure out who it is.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/15/20 #8Sunday

Brave Little Thrall coverThis week is another excerpt from “The Brave Little Thrall,” a Heartsbane Saga short stor. I had it on my calendar to get it out this week – but then I got COVID. I’m mostly okay, just tired with an annoying dry cough, but it’s wiped me out for several days.

The story is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Brave Little Tailor.” It’s a more obscure story than other fairy tales, so here’s the basic plot: a tailor kills seven flies with one strike (“seven in one blow”) and brags about it, but “forgets” to mention he killed flies so everyone assumes he’s a fierce warrior even though he’s a scrawny little tailor. He goes on adventures using trickery and eventually tricks his way into his own kingdom.

This week’s excerpt is skipping ahead just a bit. Our hero Fahim is traveling with some barbarians across the sea back to their country. He sees it as a big adventure, whereas they consider him one of their slaves. A big storm has come up and knocked him overboard. He and one of the barbarians made it to shore. In this scene, they’re discussing their next steps.

* * * * * * *

“Won’t they come ashore for us?” Fahim interrupted.

Gudrodar laughed, a short bark of contemptible amusement. “And why would they do that? Tueronians are no allies to Karjalanders, and on top of that they carry a small fortune. I certainly wouldn’t stop for two men fallen into the sea.”

“But….” Fahim frowned in confusion. “Aren’t you their leader?”

Gudrodar spun around with a glare so fierce that Fahim shrank back. “Don’t dare speak that aloud!”

Fahim sputtered a meaningless response that seemed to pacify the Karjalander, who continued walking at an even more grueling pace.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of this scene:

Fahim followed in silence. Karjalanders were an odd people, he decided. Aghlabidis were proud of their lineage; nearly everyone who could claimed to be a relative of their caliphs, and anyone who could prove that the Messenger was his ancestor was revered. And while his countrymen had their share of infighting, he’d never heard of men purposefully allowing their leader to die. No wonder these northern men were regarded as barbarians by so many around the world.

* * * * * * *

About “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 visit 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.

* * * * * * *

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