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Tag: novel

Summer 2022 goal review

I try to review my goals several times a year. I know I just posted them not too long ago, but I’m trying to get back into the habit of blogging semi-regularly so here we are.

  1. Publish consistently. Nope. My goal is a couple times a month, and my total for the year is 8 publications, all of which were 100-word microfictions on Medium.
  2. Keep traveling. This I HAVE excelled at. I’ve been able to take a trip a month, with trip defined as at least overnight and at least several hundred miles away (ie, day trips to Chicago or Madison don’t count). The beginning of January we went to the Everglades and Florida Keys. In February I went down to Arkansas to hike around the forests near Little Rock and Hot Springs, and eat alligator and gumbo. In March, the kid and I took the train to Santa Fe and hiked around the desert and mountains (and as I discussed with the hiker I picked up in Wyoming, it’s a good thing we went when we did because the whole area was later on fire). The kid and I spent Easter weekend eating our way through Detroit. When classes were done in May, I headed out to Wyoming to hike around the Grand Tetons and Laramie, which is my happy place. For June, the kid and I went to DC for the Poor People Campaign’s Moral March. And I have some truly epic trips planned out for the next few months too. Knowing I’m getting away each month has been wonderful for my mental health.

    Map of the US with red dots marking destinations visited in 2022

    Google gives you a dot for every place you visit. This is my 2022, so far.

  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. Several years ago, a house on my block burned down. The lot finally went up for sale last fall, and the price had dropped enough that I bought it this spring, as a place to grow everything I don’t have room for in my backyard. As of right now, I’ve planted 3 pear trees, 3 apple (want 2 more), 2 pawpaws (not sure what these even are??), 2 cherry, 1 plum, 1 juneberry, 1 jostaberry bush, and 2 pink current bushes. There was already a mulberry tree (which was used to make yummy apple mulberry strudel). In addition to the apple trees, I still want a walnut tree and several hazelnuts. Plus maybe some grapes, and then a big garden plot and all the spaces in between the trees. Also, the kid got chickens this spring as a 4-H project. His three are Magnus, Vulcan, and Alpharius (from Warhammer 40k), and my three are Carmen, Mercédès, and Frasquita. My three are sassypants assholes, much like their namesakes. They should start laying eggs in another month or so.

    On the other hand, I’ve been working 50-55 hours a week for the past few months, and my summer class is 3-4 hours/day 3 days/week, so I barely have time to sleep or eat, which probably ain’t so great for my health. Fingers crossed we’ll be fully staffed soon so I won’t be working as much. And my fall schedule is a lot lighter, with just one class a couple days a week, which maybe will give me some breathing room until I find something else that’ll take that back away.

    chickens next to several shrubs

    Damn chickens have since eaten every single leaf off that honeyberry bush on the right.

  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. Another nope. I’ve started a few more ads, but I don’t exactly have much writing time right now.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Nope again, although I’ve started on a few short stories based on “The Diarassia Not Taken.” I think they’re going to be a horror/speculative fiction mix.
  6. Read 100 books. I’m not even going to say the embarrassingly small number of books I’ve read so far this year. Suffice to say, it’s bad.

Overall, I’m not doing so well on goals. Like always. I’ve been spending almost every daylight moment (when I’m not sleeping, since I work nights) outside, either working in my yard or my lot or doing outdoorsy stuff like kayaking. And traveling. Oh well. I’ll get there eventually.

Random Carmen thoughts, of which I have many: Elīna Garanča is the best Carmen, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the best conductor, and this is the best scene in the whole opera. Roberto Alagna (who was almost 50 in this production) is wayyyyy too old to play Don José. Keith Miller should be in everything, and they should’ve left in the part where Dancaïre and Remendado set him on fire, as he shows up later with scars but without any explanation as to how he got them. Carmen: The Hiphopera is actually a really accurate, pretty decent adaptation. And Lillas Pastia is an awesome cat name.

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

Annual goals: 2021 review and 2022 goals

Wow, I am really late with this.

Every year, I set goals for myself. And every year, I look back at how I didn’t meet those goals.

This year is no exception.

About a year and a half ago, I started a new job, as an overnight admissions social worker at a local psych hospital. I really enjoy it; not only is it a second shift job in my field, I like my coworkers, the pay is awesome, and it’s only 3 12-hour shifts a week with no weekends (although we’re short-staffed so I usually work 4 shifts). Theoretically I have an extra 1-2 days a week to myself, although that usually doesn’t happen because I’m sleeping or spending the weekend days with my kid.

So with all that in mind, let’s look at my 2021 goals and how I did with them.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. This really fell off. I don’t think I actually got any more of them published this year. And while I did work on edits and rewrites for the first half of the year, that fell off too when I consistently started working 50+ hours a week in midsummer. And, quite honestly, the response to the series has been super underwhelming, so I’m not as gung-ho to get published quickly like I was this time a year ago.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I did decently with this for the first half of the year, until again, I got caught up with work over the summer.
  3. Marketing. I’ve consistently been running Amazon ads, and they’ve been good for some movement. I didn’t get around to a blog tour because I was waiting until I had a couple more books out. I have several in mind though, so maybe I’ll get to it later this year.
  4. Painting of Renaissance peasant woman holding a dog and shrugging as if to say WTF

    Possibly my favorite painting at the Met.

    Travel travel travel. This is one goal that I did overwhelmingly meet! In February I went to Dodge City, Kansas, because I liked watching Gunsmoke with my dad and because I wanted to spend more time in Wichita, where I found an awesome German restaurant, Prost. In March my kid and I spent a weekend in Chicago; usually we just go for a day, but this time we stayed overnight downtown and had some awesome arepas (which are his favorite thing this year). In April we went to Detroit, mostly to eat at Al Saha, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant there, as well as Cadieux Cafe, a yummy Belgian restaurant, but we also went to a Korean barbecue place that was awesome. Memorial Day weekend we went to the Black Hills of South Dakota and hiked around the Badlands and Custer state park. In June, I vanlifed in Bemidji, Minnesota (home of delicious pasties), but it was too hot so I wandered over to Devils Lake, North Dakota. In July we went back to Wichita to hit up Prost, then over to Oklahoma City to get some goat sausage at the farmer’s market (yes, it really is worth the trip). In early August I vanlifed at Spirit Lake, Iowa, and also hit up the National Hobo Museum where I found my tribe. Then my mom, kid, and I spent a week in Hawaii, kayaking and hiking and of course eating our way across Oahu. I’d planned to vanlife up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in October but canceled due to bad whether. My kid and I went back to New York City for his birthday in November – in addition to good food, we caught Stomp again (five years to the day from when we saw it previously). Then in December we went down to New Orleans for a long weekend of shrimp po’ boys, jambalaya, and gumbo, before hitting up a couple barbecue places in Memphis, Tennessee, on our way back. And then right after Christmas, my dad, son, and I spent a week down in the Everglades and Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, kayaking and hiking and eating great Latino food like pupusas and baleadas and ropa vieja. It was wonderful, all of it.

  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. This year I tried to tackle my yarn stash. The problem is that with each box I tried to organize, I’d get sidetracked into making something with the yarn, and then I’d need to buy more yarn to finish the project. And while I’m buying more yarn, oh hey look there’s some clearance yarn. Just think what I can make with that! So, while the rest of the house isn’t too bad, my office/craft room is horrible.
  6. Read 100 books. Made it to 53.

So, maybe not the best year for goals. But what about 2022?

2022 goals

  1. Publish consistently. As of right now, I’d like this to be at least a couple times a month. I’ve already gotten back into the habit of posting on Medium every couple weeks, and I’ve noticed that I can get a lot more consistent readership when I’m on a more consistent schedule, as opposed to every few months. I also want to try to expand where I publish, rather than just Medium most of the time.
  2. Keep traveling. My theme this year is filling in the gaps – getting to all the places I haven’t been to yet. I’m hoping to go somewhere at least every months, if not more frequently. I have a ton of PTO and there’s no reason I shouldn’t use it, especially when vanlifing is my self-care.
  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. I’ve noticed over the last year or so I’ve been eating out a lot more. It’s super easy to wake up and just grab dinner on my way to work, but it’s not healthy or cheap. And I’ve noticed that when I do cook, a lot of it doesn’t get eaten. To that end, I want to decrease my food waste, either by cooking less or freezing or dehydrating the leftovers. This goes for veggies too. And I want to grow a lot more of my food, as well as make healthier choices as to what I do buy. And more environmentally sustainable choices, such as less plastic and less meat. I’m also going to throw that Marie Kondo’ing goal into here, as I try to cut down on how much stuff and clutter I have.
  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. It’s been a while since I published anything with this. I’ve been picking at edits for #1.5 “The Brave Little Thrall,” and #2.5 “Ezichi the Beautiful” is about half done. #3 Little Amethyst Abaya is done, but I need to incorporate changes based on what happens with #2.5. I have some Amazon ads running, and I want to promote it more as I release more books.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Amazon has this new platform for serialized stuff, and I have a few friends who are finding success with it so I’d like to try it out. I have a series of short stories I’ve been playing with, The Suburban Hedgewitch, about a woman who grants little innocuous wishes and curses to her suburban neighbors, that would work for Vella. I also wrote a little microfiction piece last year, “The Diarassia Not Taken,” and I think it would be a fun world to continue in. Then there’s a third work I’ve been scribbling on this year, about the MC’s past lives, that I think would lend itself well to serialization.
  6. Read 100 books. My perennial goal.

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

 

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 5/2/21 #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?

Weekend Writing Warrior 4/4/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverHappy Easter, Weekend Writing Warriors blog hoppers! I’m not religious, but I do like the Easter season because it has the best candy. I’m partial to Reese’s peanut butter cups – the mini ones, not the eggs which don’t get the chocolate:peanut butter ratio right.

This week’s excerpt is from the newest book in my Heartsbane Saga of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. Book 3: Little Amethyst Abaya is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and I should probably just shut up about when it’ll be out because, although I have the best of intentions, my work schedule seems to be kicking my butt and leaving me very little time for writing and editing.

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. Last week ended with her throwing a rock at Tefvik to get his attention.

* * * * * * *

Tefvik’s head jerked up and he looked around wildly before spotting her. He dropped down on one knee as if adjusting his boot lacings. No one around him seemed to notice. Once the men rounded a bend, Mihrimah ran up to him. He swung her into a hug as their lips met.

Too soon, he pulled away. “What are you doing here?” he hissed in a low whisper.

“I couldn’t let you leave without saying goodbye.”

“It’s not safe for you out here, all alone!”

“You know I’m a better fighter than half these men.”

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

Tevfik’s brow furrowed. “But even you can’t take on these wolfmen.”

“It’s just the caliph politicking again, and dragging us into it this time.”

“No, it’s more than that. It seems there’s some actual truth to these tales.” He shook his head. “You need to return to the citadel as quickly as you can. And I need to rejoin the column before your father—”

“What in the name of the Messenger are you doing?” Mihrimah’s father bellowed as he came towards them.

She stared at him calmly, as if finding his daughter with one of his soldiers was of no need for concern. “I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.”

* * * * * * *

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 3/28/21 #8Sunday

Heartsbane book 3 coverWow, it’s been a while since I’ve participated in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, where each week contributing writers share 8-10+ sentences from their latest projects. I got a new job, and while a schedule of 3 consecutive 12-hour shifts each week seems like it would give me more free time, that doesn’t seem to be the case as of yet.

Anyways, this week’s excerpt is from the newest book in my Heartsbane Saga of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. Book 3: Little Amethyst Abaya is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and it should be out later this week (my work schedule willing, of course!)

This snippet is from the opening prologue. Mihrimah is the daughter of the general in charge of a remote citadel.

* * * * * * *

Mihrimah half slid, half climbed down the rocky embankment surrounding the squat citadel of Yumurta. She’d traded in her characteristic purple abaya and matching headscarf for a khaki one, so that her clothing blended into the dry rocks and shrub around her; Babaanne had been quite adamant that she wasn’t to leave the citadel until her father returned.

Mihrimah had mentally rolled her eyes then and physically rolled them thinking about it now. It was bad enough that most of the men stationed at the citadel had been called to fight the wolfmen, as they called the bandits currently terrorizing the countryside, and that she was forced to stay behind. But to expect her to stay inside while her beloved Tevfik was leaving too? To not even allow her to say goodbye to him? No, she wouldn’t accept that.

Once she was down to the main road that led to the capital city of Haksuk—although road was too generous for what was barely more than a footpath—Mihrimah paused. She doubted anyone would notice her as she walked along, if any of the few women left behind were even to look out one of the citadel’s narrow arrow slits that barely passed as windows, but she didn’t want to take any chances. As soon as she was spotted someone would be sent to fetch her back, and she had to at least say goodbye to Tevfik.

* * * * * * *

And the rest of that scene:

She didn’t trust the tales of the wolfmen either. She didn’t doubt that bandits roamed the countryside but she did doubt they were as fearsome as the stories made them out to be. Men in wolfskins that cannibalized their victims? Surely it was an exaggeration to advance whatever the caliph’s agenda was. Nonetheless, she didn’t want to run across them.

Sticking to the trees and rocks alongside the road, she made good enough progress that she came across the soldiers from the citadel by late afternoon. Three dozen or so men walked in pairs or small groups, chatting and laughing. None seemed to be taking the emissary’s warning seriously, and none seemed to be concerned about leaving the passage undefended. Most likely her father hadn’t shared his concerns with the men, predominately young soldiers from small villages all over the Caliphate of Tema who were unfamiliar with the caliph’s constant scheming.

One man, however, walked alone at the rear of the column. Tevfik’s head was down as if studying his feet, but Mihrimah knew he wasn’t paying any attention to the dirt he walked on. She grinned as she picked up a small rock and pelted him neatly between his shoulder blades.

* * * * * * *

About Little Amethyst Ababa:

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.

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