RSS

Tag Archives: mermaid

Witch’s Curse: Chapter 1

Witch's Curse smIn celebration of the release of my new book, Witch’s Curse, here is the first chapter.

You can get the novel here. It is the sequel to “Witch’s Sacrifice“.

*********

Blood. Sweat. Pain. Hunger.

Each new hurt layered on top of another until Brother Hawk had nothing left in his mind but anger to feed him. How long had he been trapped in the cage? Days? Weeks? Months? After centuries, his perception of time was clouded, and with no window to the outside world he had nothing to go on. He only knew that he hadn’t been fed since being locked in. His feathers were dull and grimy, dragging his skin down with layers of dirt. His tongue rasped along the dry roof of his mouth, trying to find saliva and failing.

“You! Fetch water,” a voice demanded outside the gray bars.

More torture, Brother Hawk thought. Not a new torture, either. Dangle the water, or the choice bit of flesh just outside the bars. Get the bird to scramble, clawing for it. Then take it away. An old torture. The only time he reacted to it now was when he could not claw down the savage hunger burning in his throat.

Today he could. Today he lay listless on the floor, his tongue rolling in dust. His wings spread out as far as they could in the cramped cell. Today they would find no reaction. Not until they brought the pokers, and knives.

The grating of metal on metal roused him enough to look, still moving nothing but his eyes. The door creaked open, the sound tearing into his ears. The door hadn’t been open in so long, but he was too tired to try to do anything about it. Not that a mad dash to freedom would have ended well. The curse saw to that.

A white-robed figure stepped through the door, a blurry shape against the dark background, a blob of brown swinging at his side. The smell of good, clean water, not the festering miasma of rotting slime the acolytes usually brought, made his nostrils flare, but still Brother Hawk would not succumb to the torture. He fought down the urge to drink. The urge to lunge for the pail.

The white shape knelt beside Brother Hawk and slowly lifted the brown blob closer. Water sloshed inside, the sound assaulting his ears with hope.

“Drink, Brother Hawk,” the man said. “You will not be denied this time.”

Brother Hawk blinked, the figuring getting a little less blurry. A mat of thick red hair. A bushy beard. Piercing black eyes. Were they black? They seemed black in his addled state.

Brother Hawk sucked in a deeper breath, his beak clacking together as the chains rattled around him.

“Get these chains off him,” the voice said, harsh and forceful.

“But, sir,” a plaintive voice called. Halbend. The jailer. Putrid slime that he was, Halbend didn’t ever want to let Brother Hawk free. Not as long as he lived.

“What did I say?” the white robe asked, his voice hard as steel.

“Y-yes, sir.”

Another figure entered the room. Keys rattled. Chains moved. The heavy weight lifted from him, then another chain slammed down on his back, a small squawk of surprise exiting his beak.

A sudden rush of movement, and a large weight slammed against the far side of the cell. Brother Hawk blinked again, clearing the fog enough to see the white robe towering over the prone form of Halbend.

“I have been sent to be keeper and master of Brother Hawk, and if any of you filthy swine so much as lay a hand on him or damage a single feather I will make sure that your last days are spent in the same cell he once occupied, carrying the same chains. Do I make myself clear?”

“Y-yes, sir,” Halbend cried, scrambling back against the bars.

“Now get a stretcher in here, and food. Fresh meat, not that filth you swine eat.”

Halbend scrambled up, bowing and scraping as he exited the chamber, leaving the white robe all alone.

Brother Hawk could have attacked then. Tortured and broken he might be, but there was still some kick left in him. The curse saw to that. Never dying, yet always wishing for death.

Something about this young white robe told Brother Hawk to use caution. He wasn’t like the jailers, or even the high priest. Not prone to beat first and ask questions later. How long would that last?

Curiosity more than anything kept Brother Hawk from attacking. He wanted to know what this white robe would do.

“I was chosen to care for you,” the man said as he knelt beside Brother Hawk’s beak. “I mean to do it.”

The man began ladling water from the bucket over Brother Hawk’s beak. Pure water. No taint, or piss, or foul dead thing to be found. Just water. His tongue lapped at the rivulets. He wanted to dive into the bucket. Suck it down.

“Not too quickly,” the man said. “I’m sure it’s been some time since you’ve had decent food and water, but take it slow. You’ll make yourself sick. The curse can only protect you so much.”

Brother Hawk squawked, his beak clacking together as the water was taken away, but it returned, slowly dribbling down his parched throat. He stilled, sucking down the life-giving water.

Something touched Brother Hawk’s head, and he flinched before steeling his nerves. It was never good to flinch in front of the enemy. His moment of weakness could be his undoing. But the gentle pressure returned, stroking his head, accompanied by soothing words and trills.

“You’ve been poorly treated, Brother Hawk,” the voice said. “I’m sorry. They have no excuse for the cruelties leveled on you. Now that I’ve been tasked with your care, that will change.”

Boots tromped down the stairs. The water was taken away only to be replaced with rough hands lifting Brother Hawk onto thick canvas. A stretcher. He was hoisted up then carried out of the jail cell under the watchful eye of the white-robed acolyte. The disdain of the men carrying the stretcher radiated out from them. It ran deeper than blood, but their fear of the white-robed man ran deeper.

The stretcher bounced and jostled, carrying Brother Hawk up the long flight of stairs. The same stairs that once brought him to his prison, a journey he scarcely remembered after years of being locked in the dark. The ride through the darkness gave the curse time to work on his body, using the water he’d been given to hydrate dry muscles, and lubricate joints. His eyesight started to improve, giving him a clearer view of his captors. Figures swam into focus, their angry faces studiously focused ahead while the white robe led the way.

Did the journey down the stairwell seem like such a long walk? He couldn’t remember. Time played tricks with his mind, faded some memories while making other things sharp. He could still recall the dull echoes of boot heels on stone steps, their faint shuffling pinging from every surface around them, as they did now. Still smell the blood of his jailers, ripped apart by beak and talon as they tried to subdue him.

At the top of the stairwell the large wooden door lay open. The faint scent of fresh sea air made his nostrils flair. Dim sunlight cut like a knife through the doorway, dust falling through the still air in little white streams.

As they carried Brother Hawk out of the stairwell and into the upper chambers, the air seemed to lighten around him. A weight being lifted. The air lost the staleness that he had come to find normal. The fetid, rotten odors that assaulted his senses however long he’d been down there were gone.

The white robe did not stop in the antechambers as Brother Hawk thought he might. He kept going, into the courtyard where sunlight brightened the earth and summer winds danced through tree limbs. Brother Hawk could see it through the windows. Smell the leaves, grass, and flowers. Taste the salt in the air. And while he wanted that, wanted the sun on his body and the warmth of the earth around him, wanted freedom, part of him balked. It was so open beyond the door. So vibrant.

The acolytes carried Brother Hawk across the threshold and into the courtyard. Sunlight assaulted his great orbs, the pain lancing through his skull. He screeched, and flailed on the tiny canvas stretcher, causing the men to drop him to the ground.

“You idiot!” the white robe called. “Be more careful with him. It’s a bird, not a demon.”

“They’re one in the same, ain’t they?” one of the acolytes asked.

There was a thump, and Brother Hawk blinked, adjusting to the light, only to see one of the acolytes sprawled on the floor, his hand pressed to a growing bruise on his face.

“Go get him some ice,” he said to one of the men nearby then turned to another acolyte, jabbing at him with a large meaty finger. “You start feeding him. Slowly.”

“But sir,” the plump acolyte cried, “the bird’s dangerous.”

“No more so than I am. Now see to your brother. Go, bring hot water.”

They scrambled off in different directions, leaving the hurt acolyte to crawl to his feet and wander off on his own.

The white-robed acolyte came closer, kneeling beside Brother Hawk to look him in the eye.

“I’ve been told something of you, Brother Hawk. They say you’ve been bound by the blood of the kraken. That you’re a man trapped in a bird’s form. I think we can be of service to one another. As you see, I have some standing among the brothers.”

The acolyte withdrew a leather thong with a single green stone on it.

“As you can see, I hold your bond. The high priest left you to my charge. He’s lost all interest in your plight, but I still think you can be useful. However, I am not a cruel man. No creature deserves to be caged and tortured for years on end. Especially a creature with a gift of the kraken. Like you, Brother Hawk.”

The acolytes returned, burdened with heavy buckets of hot water, towels, soap, and smaller pails of fresh meats cut into small cubes.

Brother Hawk had lost sense of time long ago in the deep dark of the dungeon. Now the sun slowly crossed the sky while the white-robed priest washed each of his feathers in between handfuls of raw meat. Minutes stretched into hours during his careful ministrations.

Brother Hawk stretched, his wings snapping and straining against long disuse. Each joint cracked as he moved, his muscles burning as the curse brought them back to health. Lighter without the years of grime and muck. Deep black feathers, glistening in the last of the sunlight. All the while he could feel the curse working to restore his withered body.

The curse. Any other creature would have died, lost and forgotten in the pitch black of a dungeon. While Brother Hawk felt the gnawing hunger, and his body slowly shut itself down over time, the curse would not allow him the mercy of death. He kept lingering, the hunger gnawing at his bones, unable to move. Unable to seek freedom.

Once clean and fed, the white robe sent the acolytes away again then sat beside Brother Hawk. They contemplated each other, black orbs of the hawk reflecting back from the dark-brown eyes of the acolyte.

“We are not so different, you and I,” the acolyte said.

Brother Hawk snorted but did not move.

“It’s true,” he protested. “We are both bound to the acolytes, bound to serve the kraken. We are both forced to do the will of the high priest, whatever he may ask. It’s true that your curse leaves you no option, but my only option is death if I fail to serve.”

Brother Hawk tilted his head to the side, blinking at the acolyte, unable to disagree but unable to comment with more than a squawk.

“You wonder why I bother with you?”

Brother Hawk nodded.

“I think we can help one another. I think that there is much we could learn from each other. High Priest Nagiz is old; his time grows short, and no one knows who will take his place. But any change in the head leaves an opening for the body to shift, yes? There are things about the acolytes that even the most diehard adherents cannot stomach, like torturing defenseless birds for pleasure. Perhaps, together, we could change at least some of that.”

Brother Hawk blinked.

The white-robed man chuckled. “It is difficult to have a conversation with a bird. Perhaps it is time for us to change that. Brother Hawk, it’s time that you were set free from your prison. Be a man.”

The change grabbed ahold of him before he had time to prepare, rippling through his body like fire ants on the hunt. Muscles spasmed, pulling tight as feathers faded away. Wings shrank into fingers and arms. Legs grew, thickening and lengthening. The beak shriveled back into his skull, replaced by soft skin, pale white and threaded with bright lines where he’d been inflicted with cuts and welts by his captors.

Lying on the ground, panting and shivering, the naked man that was once a hawk gasped for breath.

“Be careful now,” the white robe said as he knelt beside Brother Hawk. “You’ve been locked in the hawk’s form for almost thirty years now. Take some time to find your legs again before straining yourself.”

“Thirty?” Brother Hawk’s voice sounded rusted and dry even to his own ears.

“Yes, thirty years. I only found out about you five years ago. It’s taken me this long to get enough seniority to take you into my care. As far as High Priest Nagiz is concerned, you are my charge from now till the end of time.”

Brother Hawk looked up at him, blinking with two brown eyes larger than any man had a right to have. Being cursed to be a hawk had marred his body over the centuries in more ways than he knew.

“Who…who are you?” the man, once hawk, gasped out.

The white robe smiled as he helped Brother Hawk to his feet, steadying him as he wobbled.

“My name is Alistir.”

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2015 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

What should the title be?

mermcursI’ve been talking about and showing snippets from my upcoming book for over a year now. For that entire year I’ve been calling it “Mermaid’s Curse”.

The book is a Lovecraft meets high fantasy with witches, merfolk, and clerics bent on killing all the witches. The first book is how the curse happens, and the evil clerics trying to sacrifice her.

I’ve been told “mermaid” in the title might limit sales since it’s so specific … So I’d like some feedback.

Would you buy this book? Would you change the title? Suggestions maybe?

Anyone who would like to read the first chapter, it’s available here!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Editing

I dmerm curse cover2on’t do line edits on my work anymore. I pay someone else to do them. It’s better that way. Mainly because I always miss lots of things. The two words that sound the same but are spelled differently. The occasional word that is spelled right, but isn’t the right word. The wrong hyphenations. All things I have issues with.

I do try to fix them, and even have a little cheat sheet of past corrections that I can go through and search for. I also search for over used words, like “very” and “flooded”. Too much flowery language kills. Not enough bores.

What I do for my text is go back through and reread everything a couple of times and try to pick out sentences that just don’t sound right. Maybe the meaning is fumbled, or the wrong word was chosen. Maybe a sentence was placed in the wrong order.

The longer the project the more work I have to do like this. It’s annoyingly time consuming. With short stories I barely have to do any because the story is all right there and I’ve been reading over it constantly to write it so everything kind of just works. With a novel I’m only ready short bits of it at a time to help me write more in the section I need to complete, so sometimes I end up with inconsistencies, and whole paragraphs and pages out of order.

The chapter I am currently working on for Mermaid’s Curse has been in the works for a while. I started writing it at the end of January, then I got sick in February and wrote nothing, so this week I am finishing it. I’ve almost completed it and now I am going back through it and rearranging, adjusting, taking out, and in general… fixing it.

Now, this one chapter is over 6000 words already. It switches back and forth between Marizza, the main character, and Artiro. There is a lot of fighting, spell casting, curses, and creatures to keep track of. Of course I got some things wrong. I am going through tonight, since I have only two small sections left to write, and finding those words that are just inconsistent with the rest of the chapter. Pulling them out. And throwing them away. Still… the chapter is over 6000 words even after pulling out a few hundred of them because they just didn’t work. And I still have those two sections to write.

This novel … it’s a novel. A full length honest novel with a society, magic system, fully developed characters, mystery and more. And I’m so proud of it. I’m also SO HAPPY that it’s almost done and I will never have to read it again! (At least not until I start putting those finishing touches on book 2 and I need a refresher.)

A note about the cover… That’s a working cover and it will not be the finished one. I like it, but it isn’t quite… enough. Ya know?

Anyway, here is to hoping that next month I will be adding a vlog here where I am holding an honest to spaghetti monster BOOK in my hands.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Updates

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

What’s New?

If you’ve been following my blog for any ammount of time you know I’ve been working on a novel, “Mermaid’s Curse.” I’ve posted a few snippets of the content, and I’ve gotten some good feedback from people who have read it. THey like the pace and the tension between the characters. They find the plot, what I’ve mentioned of it, good.

First, what’s changed: It is no longer a single novel.

While writing this novel, which was suppose to be 80,000 words at least, I discovered that the story had a natural break in the middle of it. The first half is about Marizza and Artiro, how they meet, fall in love, and eventually have Okira. Okira is the cursed mermaid in the title. The second half is about Okira and Brother Hawk, and how they break the curse. Two distinct tales balance around the same curse, but focusing on separate people.

Then I got to the end of the second part and realized there was a third story. The curse was broken, but no one is safe until they can keep the curse from ever happening again.

So, I’ve decided that the tale of the “Mermaid’s Curse” is a trilogy, not a single novel.

At this moment, book 1 is finished. Book 2 is almost finished. And I have a complete plot of book 3. The first two books come in at roughly 50,000 words each. (Yes, that’s 100k words. It just kept growing.)

When will they be out? That’s a really good question. I’m not sure. I would like to put them out three months apart. The first book is done so I think it’s time to get it edited and start working on a cover. Give me a month to figure some things out and I’ll let you all know more.

Till then, here is a Pinterest board of things inspiring the writing, and here is a newsletter you might want to join to get more information.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 20, 2014 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you want updates?

I finally figured out how to do the news letter. Mailchimp was a bit of a pain to figure out, but once it clicked… well, now I can send out updates every other week and let readers know what’s coming up.

Speaking of which, here is this weeks newsletter. Just a quick update on progress of Mermaid’s Curse, and letting everyone know about the upcoming freebie this weekend.

And if you’d like to get updates once or twice a month about what may be coming up, and progress on current works, then feel free to sign up here for the newsletter. Plus, there’s a free gift for joining.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 1, 2014 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Meet my Character – Okira

I had so much fun participating in the “Meet my Character Bloghop”. Maya Goode invited me, and I just couldn’t resist. It was a great opporunity to really define who Okira is.

1) What is the name of your character?
Okira is the offspring of a merman, and a witch. A magical, and very rare crossbreed.

2) When and where is the story set?
The story is set in the islands of The Sea of Tears on the world of Peyllen. It is a rich fantasy world where the inhabitants were birthed from the various elements, and their magic and make up reflect those elements. The Sea of Tears has been cut off from the rest of the world by a cult who control a kraken, and the kraken sees to it that no ship may enter or exit the Sea of Tears without the acolytes permission.

3) What should we know about him/her?
Okira is doubly cursed. Because of her heritage she can not enter the sea without the kraken feeling her magical essence and killing her. She was also cursed soon after her birth to die the moment she finds love.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
The acolytes have hunted witches to the brink of extinction, and once they learn of Okira they seek her out to use her latent magical essence in a ritual that will change the entire Sea of Tears.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Okira wants to return to the sea, her mermaid blood calls out for her to do so, but she can only do so if the kraken is dead.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Mermaid’s Curse. You can find blurbs from the book here, here, here and here.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
I am working on the final chapters, and once finished will send it out to be edited and get a good cover. Once that is done it will be published. It should be by the end of October.

My Bio
I live in the cloudy state of Washington near Seattle with my three children, and a cat. Manager of a little store by day, writer by night, I’ve published 20+ short stories and three novellas. Mermaid’s Curse will be the first full length novel. I do all of my own cover art, but have learned that you (almost) always need a good editor. I started publishing in earnest in April of 2013.

To find me, my work, and a newsletter where you can sign up for a free book go to crissymoss.com
I can also be found here: http://about.me/crissymoss

I was Tagged by:

Maya Goode 1Maya Goode is a short story author, novelist, and poet. Raised by an amazing mercurial woman who shared neither blood nor race, she lives on the edge of identities and writes deeply honest stories about the human journey. She is an alumna of Dominican University of California and resides somewhere between mountains and the ocean. Her first novel, Remigium Rising, will be published in Spring 2015. You can visit her at www.mayagoode.com

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/quotidianlight

Google Plus https://plus.google.com/+quotidianlight
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/quotidianlight

~Meet Next Week’s Author – Scott Richards~ 

20140618_202924Scott is a California-based author where he is forced to live with all of the characters in his head. Despite what you may hear shrieked into the night air, he is a sad, crazy little man.

He is maintained by those familiar few for the rare nugget he spouts on occasion. These mad ramblings are recorded, then dictated back to old shoe-cobbling elves that have retired, but still like to “keep themselves busy” as stipulated per their Retired Original Union Group Home (R.O.U.G.H.) contract agreements.

Show your support for this noble cause.

Think of the children.

-Scott Richards
Author of the Darlicci’s Shroud series
Website: http://www.theshroudbetween.com
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/WSdktb

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 1, 2014 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Challenge and a Review

millwords

A Challenge

A group of my fellow authors started a little challenge for the new year. The challenge is to be the first to write a million words for the year. Not just on books we might be writing, but also including things like blog posts, notes for world building, articles, or anything else we “write”, because ultimately writing is all about putting words on a page.

I am skeptical that I can do this. Sort of.

I write a lot each day. I write a bit on some stories. I do blog posts. I answer emails, and talk in forums about odd things I find on Reddit. But I can’t bring myself to “count” those words.

I suppose, if I wanted to, I could cut and past all those little snippits of words from conversations about the political climate in Washington, and weather or not the cute little otter running back and forth across the fence is really THAT cute, and shove them into a file marked “BLAH” and count them. But that feels like cheating to me.

And it isn’t that I’d be cheating the challenge, because the challenge specifically says “ANYTHING” I write counts. It’s that I feel I would be cheating myself.

Last year I wrote about a quarter of a million words, only including actually work on books and short stories, or blog posts. That also included a few ideas for future stories, but it didn’t count all the blog posts I started and never finished, or those I eventually threw out as a bad idea. It didn’t count several thousand words I threw away as something that would never come to fruitfulness. Maybe those things would be interesting to see.

I wanted to work myself up to 1000 words of story a day anyway, and that would get me close to 400k all alone, so perhaps with all this other writing added in I will get closer to a million. But I refuse to count posts on Reddit, Twitter, Goodreads, and other social media. THAT is where I draw the line.

A Review

FO-smSimon Canton was nice enough to do a review over on his blog for “Forgotten Ones”. It was a fair review, and…

Well, I don’t generally make it a point to answer reviews, or comment on them for various reasons, but I will say that I do have two more books planned for the “Eternal Tapestry” story-line. One will be a revisit of the “Necropolis” short story, and go back to the first time Jadina meets Maylin. The other is a story that comes after “Forgotten Ones”, dealing with another goddess that managed to survive the modern age. Because I agree with Simon that it would be much better as a full novel. So,… I’m working on that.

I find it incredibly interesting that so many people read my stories and their first comment is “I wish this was longer, I wanted to read more.” Which just leads me to think that I really, REALLY need to put out some novels so I can give people what they are asking for.

I’m working on it!

Some Updates

“Mermaids Curse”, my NaNoWriMo project, is now at 48k. It’s about half finished, maybe a little more. It also has a LOT more action then most of my books, and maybe a couple sex scenes just because they seemed to fit at the time. (That is, if I can write them. I’m still not that confident in writing a full fledged sex scene.)

That is my big project at the moment, but in between filling out those chapters I will continue writing short stories simply because I love finishing stories, and I love publishing things so people can read them. Since it takes me such a long time to finish a novel it just makes sense that I’d do a couple short stories a month too.

“Footprints” is finished, but I won’t be putting that out for a little while. Garrett Robinson is working on an anthology, and “Footprints” will, hopefully, be part of that. I am not sure if I want to put it up as a single before or after the anthology is released.

“Zombie Swarm” is the current short story I am working on. It is my first (and probably only) zombie story, and looks like it will be 5-8,000 words. It is a rather unique view of zombies, and I really can’t say anything other then that till it is released. Which, I hope, will be by the end of this month.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2014 in Updates

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,