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Tag: Heartsbane

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.

* * * * * * *

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

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/8/20 #8Sunday

Brave Little Thrall coverThis week is another excerpt from “The Brave Little Thrall,” a Heartsbane Saga short story that I’m still not done editing because life. It’s 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.

* * * * * * *

The water pulled Fahim down. He thrashed around, kicking his feet and flailing his arms. Open or closed, his eyes saw only darkness. His chest burned as his lungs screamed for air;
surprisingly, however, his mind was calm. He’d always expected to live a long life, dying peacefully surrounded by his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Not dragged down in this sea, leagues from his homeland. But at least he would have left a legacy, albeit a small one, as an accomplished scholar. Inshallah, he thought to himself. The Messenger had taught that man could not fathom the will of God, and although he’d never considered himself devout, he found himself accepting this now, accepting his fate.

Until he was jerked upwards.

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

His head broke the surface of the waves and he sucked in air, blessed air. He continued to flail his arms and legs, desperate to stay afloat now that death wasn’t immediately inevitable.

“Stop that or you’ll drown us both,” a voice behind him said in Karjalander.

Fahim turned his head towards his rescuer. A young barbarian from the ship had one arm around a barrel lid and his other gripping the back of Fahim’s tunic. The pelting rain made it difficult for him to discern which barbarian it was.

“I assume you’re unable to swim,” the barbarian stated. At Fahim’s nod, he asked, “Can you take hold of this barrel and kick your legs? We should be able to get to shore.”

Fahim nodded again. Panic gripped him as the man loosened his hold and he felt himself slipping under a particularly large wave, before his hands grasped the wooden lid.

Shoulders together, they kicked their way towards land. Large swells threatened to pull Fahim from the barrel, but each time the barbarian seemed to anticipate it and grabbed his tunic. By the time his feet connected with sand, Fahim’s shoulders and legs ached so badly he didn’t think he would’ve made it much farther. He half-walked, half-crawled above the water line and collapsed in exhaustion.

The other man, however, did not. Instead, he walked towards the tree line. He’d almost made it before he glanced behind him. His shoulders heaved in an exaggerated sigh as he turned back to Fahim.

“You’ll die if you just lie there.”

“Mmfmf.”

* * * * * * *

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.

* * * * * * *

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

Weekend Writing Warrior 11/1/20 #8Sunday

Brave Little Thrall coverThis week is another excerpt from “The Brave Little Thrall,” a Heartsbane Saga short story that I’m still not done editing because life. It’s 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.

I’m continuing from last week’s excerpt. Our hero Fahim has just managed to interpret some old runes that no one else could. In this scene, he’s telling some of his colleagues about his discovery again. Khasir is his main rival at the university.

* * * * * * *

“Most scholars take years to uncover such knowledge,” another man said, “and you were able to decode seven runes at once?”

“Yes,” Fahim said, “once I realized their resemblance to the Fustites—”

“Such accomplishments must be celebrated,” Khasir interrupted, stroking his mustache as a smile Fahim didn’t like the looks of played at the edges of his mouth. “You’ve accomplished quite a feat.”

“Yes, well, anyone could of—”

“Yes, but it wasn’t anyone,” Khasir interrupted again, “it was you.”

“Yes, I suppose—”

“And you could do it again, if the opportunity presented itself?”

“Probably, but—”

“Then here is your chance!”

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

Khasir pushed Fahim through a doorway, into a dark room. As he waited for his eyes to adjust to the low light, the first thing he noticed was the smell: stale, sour sweat of many unwashed bodies. The next thing was the sounds: low moans, frightened chatter in a language he thought might be that spoken by one of the tribes beyond the mountains. Finally, he could discern bodies: lots and lots of bodies, pressed close to each other, their ankles connected by dull chains. Slaves.

He quickly spun around to confront Khasir. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Khasir didn’t answer. Instead he walked farther into the room, over to a low table where several pale-skinned men with yellow beards and half-shaved heads reclined on a dirty rug.

“We’re sending you on an adventure, Fahim Al Rasheed,” he said.

* * * * * * *

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.

* * * * * * *

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

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/25/20 #8Sunday

Brave Little Thrall coverThis week is another excerpt from “The Brave Little Thrall,” a Heartsbane Saga short story that will be out hopefully any day (assuming my day job isn’t super hectic like it was all last week). It’s a retelling of the fairy tale “The Brave Little Tailor.”

I’m continuing from last week’s excerpt. Our hero Fahim has been trying to interpret some old runes, despite his fellow scholars thinking it’s a waste of time.

* * * * * * *

A month later, Fahim still hadn’t deciphered the runes. He stared at them, willing them to take on meaning. He yawned and propped his head on his elbow. Weeks of little sleep had left him exhausted. A quick nap couldn’t hurt. His eyelids grew heavier, until with a bang his head dropped onto the desk and his eyes shot open.

He cocked his head just a bit. From this angle, the runes looked similar to an old script used by the Fustites. He narrowed his eyes, deep in thought. Where had he seen this before?

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

Fahim leapt up and raced through the library to the section on Fustite history, searching until he found a tome on city planning. He thumbed through the book until an illustration caught his eye. Grinning from ear to ear, his tiredness forgotten, he hurried back to his table and set the book down next to his runes.

“Yes,” he whispered to himself. “If that…then that…and so that…and that one….” His jaw dropped. “Seven! I figured out seven in one go!”

He stood up and looked around him. The library was mostly empty. “Seven in one go!” he said, softly at first and then louder. “I got seven in one go!”

* * * * * * *

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.

* * * * * * *

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

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/18/20 #8Sunday

Brave Little Thrall coverThis week I’m moving on to the next release in my Heartsbane Saga series, “The Brave Little Thrall.” I’d planned to release it yesterday, but life got in the way and edits aren’t quite done yet. It should be out in the next couple days, inshallah (God-willing, as my MC would say).

When I was a kid, Nickelodeon had an anime series of fairy tales that I assumed I watched all of, although only one episode sticks with me thirty years later: “The Brave Little Tailor.” It’s such a fun, silly tale that I knew I had to include it in my new series of retold fairy tales. It doesn’t really fit into the plot arc for the main series, so I decided to adapt it for one of the accompanying stand-alone short stories.

This week brings the start of the story. It starts out in Aghlabid, a distant desert land where book 2 is also set. The main characters in this story – a desert scholar and a barbarian king – are the fathers of two of the characters in the main story line, and this tale is about how they met. Fun fact: the real Viking Bjorn Ironside led a raid on the Mediterranean in 859-861 and basically got his butt handed to him, so this story is pretty dang historically plausible.

* * * * * * *

Fahim Al Rasheed sat at a table covered with books and papers in a tucked-away corner of the main library at the University of Bidat Alshroq. His concentration right now was on seven runes in front of him. Scholars had been trying to years to decode their meaning, with no luck so far.

Fahim didn’t need luck. His name meant Fahim the Wise, and he knew that if he focused enough, he could solve this mystery.

“Give up, boy,” a figure said as it strode through the stacks. “That barbarian language has been dead for centuries. Even if you could figure it out, what use is it? Learn a real language.”

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

Fahim rolled his eyes. Khasir Al Mutakabir was the preeminent geography scholar at the university, and as such considered himself an expert in many other disciplines as well. Including linguistics. But no one was better in that field than Fahim Al Rasheed. He would figure out what the runes meant and then Khasir would be the one listening to him.

* * * * * * *

Book 1 in the Heartsbane Saga, Captive and the Cursed, is available now at Amazon, or you can read more of the characters’ exploits in the prequel short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” for just $.99. Then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

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.

 

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/11/20 #8Sunday

Captive and the Cursed CoverThis’ll be the last post from Captive and the Cursed, the first book in my Heartsbane series, since my second short story, “The Brave Little Thrall,” will be out later this week and I’ll be moving on to snippets from it instead.

Last week, we learned that Nyah’s sister had been kidnapped by barbarians. When her village council didn’t move quickly enough to get her back, Nyah took matters into her own hands and charged off to the barbarian camp to get her back. She demanded to speak with their leader, and a very polite man named Domhnall led her to the leader’s tent, where she’s now confronting a man covered in a horrible, painful-looking rash.

* * * * * * *

The disfigured man glared at me. “Go back to your village, girl.”

“I will as soon as you give me my sister back.”

The man shifted his glare to Domhnall. “What is she talking about?”

I am talking about the girl your barbarians captured yesterday.”

“Domhnall?”

“I’d guess she’s the sister of the girl we rescued.”

“You dinnae rescue her,” I spat at them.

“Oh,” the hideous man asked, “then what happened?”

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

Swallowing down my revulsion to the disfigured man’s appearance, as well as my fear, I strode over to his table and glanced down at the maps and papers scattered on the table. Father had many of his own maps from his travels, and I’d studied them often, so I was familiar with the geography of Llogeria. “Let me recap for you. You sailed across the northern sea in your long ships, looking for easy treasure.” I traced his path on the map while I spoke. “As you make your way to our capital, you’re gathering men to you, with promises of treasure and slaves. And if they won’t willingly join you, you take them captive, like you did with my sister and her companion. Aye, I know what happened, because Dar escaped and told me everything.” I shook my head in disgust. “It’s horrible enough what you’re doing here, but you barbarians have been invading our shores for centuries. What’s worse is when my fellow countrymen put their own greed over Llogeria. This man, for example.”

I turned my ire to Domhnall. “What did he bribe you with? Gold? No, I can tell you’re a lordling so you dinnae need wealth. A title, perhaps, and land of your own. Maybe he’ll let you rule at his side when you overthrow our king? Well, you won’t overthrow him. You should know our king is raising his own army to fight back against these hordes, and—”

“Aye, we know,” the disfigured man interrupted. “What does this have to do with your sister again?”

* * * * * * *

This is obviously not the reaction she was expecting!

Captive and the Cursed is available now at Amazon, or you can read more of the characters’ exploits in the prequel short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” for just $.99. Then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Fall 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition

How is it that 2020 feels like a million months’ long yet is still flying by?

I did an online writing conference in August, and that’s really helped me to focus. I love to-do lists, and so I now keep a planner with weekly goals. I don’t always hit them (okay, I never hit them all), but it’s helped keep me on track a lot better than my previous method of wishful thinking. It’s especially been helpful as I’ve ramped up Amazon ads and systematically gone through and updated my backlist covers and blurbs.

Anyways, here’s my quarterly review of how my progress towards my goals is going.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    I DID THIS!!!!! I released the first short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” in mid-July, followed by book 1, Captive and the Cursed, at the beginning of September. I’m finishing up edits on the second short story, “The Brave Little Thrall,” and book 2, Sleeping Shaman, which is also finished except for edits, is available for preorder, set to release December 1st. I’m currently working on going wide with books .5 and 1, and 1.5 will be wide probably by early November.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 22 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. I didn’t publish anything in September, which I can definitely feel in the decline of views. It can be difficult to get that momentum back, but I have several pieces in the works to try to recover and continue publishing regularly.
  3. Continue to increase my networking.
    I’ve reconnected with Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly blog hop that shares snippets of works in progress. I’ve also joined a couple Facebook writers groups. As part of #2 above, I plan to continue to try to clap for 15+ Medium stories every day, specifically those written by people I follow and people who follow me.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Last goal review, I mentioned how the transmission went out in my minivan. I was able to get the warranty company to pay for it (yay me!) but they wouldn’t pay for a new timing belt. And then just a couple weeks ago, as I was about to embark on another cross-country road trip, I ended up needing a new catalytic converter and four new tires. Ouch. BUT sales have been decent on my new books for the past month (although not enough to buy a cabin, sadly) and I’m signed up to do a craft fair at the end of the month. Depending how that goes, I may do another one in November and/or December. Although who knows what’ll go out on my van next month….
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    As the weather is starting to cool down, I’m starting to get back into this. After the craft fair, my plan is to tackle my dining room: fix the stuck pocket door, repaint, and declutter. Then onto the upstairs bedrooms.
  6. Read 100 books.
    Right now I’m at 30 books for the year, which is 46 behind where I should be. This is not going to end well.

On the positive side, I’ve gotten a lot more travel in, which is really important for self-care. I just got back from a 10-day, 5300-mile roadtrip around the American southwest, with lots of hiking and vanlifing. It was wonderful, especially Death Valley, and I’m already planning out the next trip. (I also tweeted my observations during the trip; follow me on Twitter for lots of random musings that don’t make it onto my blog.)

Like most years, I’m making progress on some goals, not so much on others. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen for the year when I set my goals back in January, and I think this year wins for least predictable year ever. But I’ll keep going. As my buddy Armando Perez says, “Reach for the stars and if you don’t grab them, at least you’ll fall on top of the world.”

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

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/4/20 #8Sunday

Captive and the Cursed CoverI was out of town for the past couple weekends, wandering the country for some #vanlife self-care, and although I posted I forgot to link on the WeWriWa site! If you feel so inclined, check out that post too!

Now I’m skipping ahead a bit. MC Nyah had a bit of a disagreement with her younger sister Payton regarding love – Payton, being a typical teenager, of course knows everything and is guided by her hormones. Nyah reluctantly agreed to let her go out walking with her beau, and Payton never came home. After a couple days, Nyah learned that her sister is being held captive by a nearby barbarian army. In this scene, she’s stormed into the village council meeting, demanding they get her sister back.

* * * * * * *

Earc, the village toísech, waved a piece of parchment I was sure none of the council members could read. “But I have a plan.”

“What about Payton?” I asked.

“What about her?”

“When will they release her?”

“The lord says they intend to keep her, until we pay a sum for her release.”

“And you’ll pay it, aye?”

Earc just looked at me.

My mouth fell open as angry tears pricked at my eyes. “You have to pay it!”

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

“And where would we get the coin they demand? Maybe your father could pay it?”

Several men laughed, fueling my rage.

“So we just let him keep my sister?”

“Nyah.” Wynne came around the table and laid his hand on my shoulder. I angrily shrugged it off. “We’ll get her back. Have patience.”

“You’ve known Payton all her life. You know how frail she is. Yet none of you would spare coin for her release?” I stared around the room at each man in turn. No one would meet my gaze. “Fine. If you won’t rescue my sister, I will.”

I stood so forcibly my chair toppled over, before I stormed from the room.

“Nyah, wait!”

I didn’t slow for Wynne.

“What are you going to do? Walk into their camp and demand her back?”

I dinnae have a plan, but that was as good as any. “Yes.”

Wynne grabbed my arm and swung me around to face him. “Dinnae be so rash. The barbarians will kill you.”

“She’s my sister. I have to do something.”

“Let the council get her back. Give Father time. He’ll—”

Gillian burst out of the inn. “Nyah!”

Wynne turned towards the barmaid’s voice. Seizing my chance, I broke free of his grasp, gathered up my skirts, and sprinted out of the village towards the barbarian camp.

* * * * * * *

Captive and the Cursed is available now at Amazon, or you can read more of the characters’ exploits in the prequel short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” for just $.99. Then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

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About Captive and the Cursed:

She must choose: follow her head or follow her heart?

Nyah’s merchant father raised her and her younger sister Payton on tales of treasure and excitement, but after he returns home from his latest trip addle-minded, Nyah must put aside her dreams of adventure and focus on more practical matters, like her betrothal to the illiterate son of the village chief. But when a roving band of barbarians kidnap Payton and the village leaders do nothing to rescue her, Nyah has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. She offers herself in her sister’s place, doomed to travel with the barbarian army until their price is paid.

The army is led by Brandulfur, a man who suffers from a hideous, painful curse. Although he’s officially in her country to aid his childhood friend in raising an army to support the king, he’s on a personal quest for the book that holds the cure for his curse – a book that Nyah soon realizes her father stole from him.

Determined to return to her family, she’ll need all the allies she can get. But no one is who they seem, including the people closest to her. She’ll have to make hard choices if she wants her life to be the same as before – but is that even what she wants anymore?

Captive and the Cursed is the first book in a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. If you like sassy heroines, adventures spanning the medieval world, and a touch of romance, you’ll love The Heartsbane Saga, E.D. Martin’s new historical fantasy series.

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