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Dragon’s Flame – Chapter 1

The first chapter of Dragon’s Flame, book 1 in the half blood sorceress series.

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Winter descended from the mountains, a cloak of ice wrapped about his shoulders. A living force of nature, his very presences consumed all before him.

A blanket of snow and ice spread out at his feet, the earth crunching beneath his foot falls. A shroud of mist hung with baited breath behind him, waiting for his invitation to slip down into the valley and consume all before it.

Even the sun, once bright and warm in its track, cast a cold glow upon the frozen landscape. Brittle ice caked outstretched tree limbs, weighing them down and snapping off the fragile ends. Dark rich earth and pale green grass gave way to a blanket of cold crystals as he passed.

Silence enshrouded the unnatural winter as birds fell from the sky, and rodents scrambled into dens, never to emerge, their blood frozen. No being could come near to the vision of ice. For miles nothing ventured beyond the grip of winter. No sound. No animal. And no man. Nothing save the wind, and footfalls of the one carrying ice in his very soul.

Word spread of winter’s passage, and villages fled south in terror. But few men lived in the north near the mountains, and fewer in the path of winter’s fury. The great leaders of the cities to the south did not see the danger creeping steadily closer to them. They could not feel the cold of winter, or hear the fury of the winds descending from the mountain.

To the south where men slept peacefully in their beds, ignorant of the danger approaching.

~

C-1 Mother

 

Soft light fell in a dappled pattern across my mother’s bed, like lace made from sunbeams. I hung the lace curtains for her just two summers ago when the sunlight had become too much for her weakening body.
I sat on the edge of her bed, taking her hand in mine. So thin. It was like clutching a skeleton with thin paper wrapped over her birdlike bones.

This was my mother, or what was left of her. Only thirty-eight and she was succumbing to a wasting disease that no cleric could seem to heal. Not that there had been many clerics visiting our small village.
“It won’t be much longer,” she said.

I had to lean forward to hear her words, like crushed leaves on the breeze, cracking and popping as she spoke.

“Don’t say that, mom,” I protested, clutching her hand just a bit tighter. “You can’t go yet. You haven’t even given me away at my wedding. And what will dad do without you? He needs you. We both do.”
She reached up with her other hand and patted me. “You’ll do just fine, Sybel. You’re stronger than you think. You’ll be ruling the world in no time.”

I smiled, I couldn’t help it, even at this stage. Mother always had an odd sense of humor. Ruling the world? From the back of a plow horse? A farmer’s wife didn’t rule much more than her kitchen. I might not have been a wife yet, but I knew it would come soon, and all the stories of mages and dragons mother shared with me would be replaced with babies and laundry.

“And dad?” I asked.

“Don’t be too harsh on him, Sybel. Your dad’s been through a lot more than he’s willing to admit. He’s been there for us, more than I had any right for. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. Things might get difficult for you after I’m gone, but remember that somewhere inside him there is love.”

I didn’t understand it then, but my mother already knew what would happen when she passed onto the other side. She had been married to my father for twenty years, and knew all too well his temper. I knew it too, and had been on the wrong side of it more often than not. I tried to brush it off, to remind myself that he loved me, but it had gotten harder to do so since mother took ill. He’d been rougher than usual.

I’d done my best to hide the bruise on my arm where he’d gripped it a bit too hard. It wouldn’t do to upset mother on her deathbed.

I didn’t want to admit that it was her deathbed, but there was no denying it anymore. She was dying and there was nothing I could do. No wizard to call. No demon to summon. My mother was going to slip into the next world, and it would be soon.

What would I do afterward?

“I’ll remember, mother,” I said, and leaned down to kiss her on the forehead. Her skin was warm beneath my lips, and smelled of sour elderberries. It was the smell of wine, and sleep, something she’d been imbibing in far more lately. I couldn’t even try to be upset with her, I could see how much pain each movement was causing.

The wasting disease had come on two summers before, slowly creeping inside her. First she couldn’t stand for very long, and took to working the farm from a chair that I carted around for her. Then she couldn’t stay awake for long periods of time and started taking naps throughout the day. At the beginning of the spring when others were out sowing the seeds for the next harvest my mother couldn’t rise from her bed. Her muscles had atrophied, leaving behind a husk of the woman I’d known. The strong jaw, and quick smile had been replaced by a skull covered in thin parchment.

The sicker mother became the angry father seemed.

“The garden just hasn’t been the same without you,” I said. It sounded hollow, even to me, but I had to say something. Didn’t I? Tired platitudes about getting well seemed out of place. There was no getting well, not anymore, and we both knew it.

“I’m tired, Sybel. I think it’s time I rest.”

The finality in her words sent a shiver down my spine. But there was a smaller part of me that was glad. Mother had been in pain for so long, I just wanted her pain to end. If that meant letting her go then I would do it. No matter how much it hurt.

I kissed her forehead again, and let go of her hand.

“Did you want father to come in and kiss you goodnight as well?”

The way I said goodnight, it sounded like the end of a long journey to me. Perhaps mother heard it because she sighed and gave me a wan smile before shaking her head. I couldn’t blame her. The way father had been acting it wouldn’t be a good way for her to go into the long sleep. I think she held on as long as she did because of him, but now the wasting disease was too much. She was ready.

I smiled back, and patted her hand.

Then I slowly stood, and turned my back on her, walking away.

It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It felt like I was giving her permission to die. After all the years she had held on for me and my father, it felt like the right thing to do. She was hurting, and staying would do nothing for her but cause her more pain.

I could handle myself, and father if need be. But at that moment we didn’t matter any longer, I could only think of her failing strength, and the relief that seemed to emanate from her at that moment.

I left, knowing it would be the last time I would see my mother alive. And I didn’t look back.

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Posted by on June 24, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Why NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo just started! This month also brings Thanksgiving, and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, along with day light savings, and a slew of other things with family and friends. And yet we still decide to torture ourselves with writing 50,000 words in a month. What’s wrong with us?

I’ve done NaNoWriMo several years, and each year I learn something new about myself, and about my writing. I also get a lot from the experience in regards to social interaction and community. So this year as I start on my journey for NaNoWriMo I asked myself: why?

Accountability
Deadlines help many people get to the end of projects, books, readings, videos, and many other things. Deadlines help enfource the notion that you have a set amount of time to get something done, and NaNo has a huge, vibrant, built in deadline already there for you.

Some of us do not find it that easy to make deadlines for ourselves. Therefore you can use NaNo. While you’re only really accountable to yourself, for most of us that’s enough. Lying about “winning” NaNo doesn’t hurt anyone, but if you can make that deadline it feels amazing.

Encouragement
There are SLEWS of people out there on every social media outlet, in coffee shops, video blogs, and everything else. All of them want to encourage you to write your book. That is so incredibly helpful.

Competition
Some people are competitive by nature. The buddy system on NaNo forums is awesome for tracking each of your buddies word counts and seeing where you stack up with them. I am rarely above, or even even with my buddies, but I still love trying to at least catch up with them.

Comradery
Misery loves company, right? Well so do writers. Writing is such a lonely profession, or hobby, or whatever it is for you. Take the time to get to know a few people, make some friendships, and stay in contact with them after NaNo is over. The world of writing won’t seem quite as alone as it did before.

Goal
Similar to accountability, and deadlines. Only this has to do with word counts too. You’re goal, if you chose to accept it, is to write an entire novel. 50,000 words. That’s a lot of words. But goals help people. They keep them focused. Knowing exactly what you are trying to do will keep you going.

Achievement
At the end of the day, achievement is the end all. Know you tried, and you succeeded, is an amazing feeling. Even if you don’t manage to finish, if you tried again and you got farther this time you’ve achieved something. For me, every year I learn something new about myself, and my writing style. THAT is an achievement in itself. If I can learn something that will help me keep writing in the years to come then I am all for NaNoWriMo.

Prizes
Prizes are the last thing on the list. NaNoWriMo has a couple of great prizes, like free print copies of your book, and half price on Scrivener (the best writing program EVER). But they aren’t that big of a carrot. Really, you could easily fake winning NaNo and still get the prizes, but you

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Writing a Novel

The last year finally paid off. A novel that had been stewing in the back of my mind for the last several years. The novel, Mermaid’s Curse, started out as a simple thing. The name, actually. A cursed mermaid, never allowed to fall in love least she die, and Brother Hawk, a man cursed to be a hawk, and suffer the will of the priesthood who visited inhumane tortures on him for centuries.

I finished the first book of the trilogy today. The last stubborn chapter that kept whispering that it needed to be there, but wouldn’t tell me why it needed to be there until just last week. It is the third novel that I’ve completed. It actually has a few threads in common with the first book I wrote (the one that died in the computer crash.) I subconsciously picked out the best parts of that novel and used it in this one.

With each novel I’ve learned something about myself, and my writing habits. With this particular completion I learned quite a bit more then ever before.

Mermaid’s Curse: Book 1 is just over 50,000 words. It took almost a year to complete. Keep in mind that I started Mermaid’s Curse as a single book and it has since become a trilogy. Book 2 is now just over 50,000 words, as well, and should be about 52,000 words when finished. Book 3 is currently 5000 words of plot. It’s going to be at leas 50-60,000 words when finished. That’s a lot of writing. 50,000 of which was done just last November during NaNoWriMo.

What I learned: 

You can’t force the story sometimes. I had everything finished for Book 1 except for one small chapter. I agonized over that chapter for a while, added a few words, added some notes, deleted them, and wrote some more. But the chapter sucked no matter how I wrote it. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what.

So I skipped ahead, wrote some other chapters, finished whole scenes and gave up on that one chapter. I even tried cutting that chapter out because if it was that horrible and boring it probably didn’t need to be in the book, right? Wrong. Without that chapter linking the rest of the book together the story kind of had an abrupt shift that felt ungainly and… just wrong.

So that chapter sat in the back of my mind for months while I polished off other chapters, rewrote sections, and decided the novel was actually a trilogy. Then one day I was taking a shower and think about another problem chapter and it was like magic. All the pieces slid into themselves.

Oddly enough the pieces fell into place because I started plotting the third book. As I plotted the third book I saw more of the world, saw new characters, and realized what needed to happen at the end of Book 2 to make Book 3 carry on. It was always the end of the books that gave me the most trouble. Once I figured out the end of Book 3 the chapters for Book 2, and that one stubborn chapter from Book 1 just snapped into place. I wrote 2000 words that night just trying to get down all the plot points so I knew what to write the next day.

Really, the thing that did it in the end was just keeping the story in the back of my mind while I went about the rest of my day. Jotting down ideas helped a little, but when it finally snapped into place it had nothing to do with forcing it, and everything to do with just letting it happen naturally.

Scheduling

The next thing I learned was about time. You only have so much. Use it wisely.

I can’t tell you how many times I sat down to the PC and my daughter would suddenly need to use the computer, or my son would need help with homework, or my boyfriend would just need attention. Families take a lot of time and energy, and they are so worth it. But this means that taking those moments you get to write, pouncing on them and using them to your advantage means EVERYTHING. Even the few minutes you have on a car trip to think about the story and come up with a plan to jot down on a note is better then nothing at all.

Finishing

Finishing feels SOOOOOO GOOD. (Yes, read that however you want.)

When I finally completed that chapter that I had been stuck on for a year I was so excited. I almost wanted to dance for joy. I texted four people and told them I’M FINISHED! I was that happy.

Whatever you’re working on, finish it. Doesn’t matter if it’s terrible, if you have to throw it out and start over, or if you just want to burn it in a fire. Finish it. That sense of completion will give you more inspiration and perseverance then all the self help and uplifting posters with kitties hanging in there that you will ever see.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in On Writing

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Perspective

scarecrowPerspective is a tricky thing. In drawing you pick a point in the distance, and you draw everything angled toward that point. But in life?

I’ve been working on “Mermaid’s Curse” since last November. I had written a really basic 1000 word plot before then, but I really started working on it during NaNoWriMo. Now that NaNo is just a month away I am acutely aware of the fact that it’s been almost a year and my novel isn’t finished yet.

But let’s get some perspective. This is the third novel I’ve written. The first two took me five years each to complete, and the first was TERRIBLE. The second is still sitting on my hard drive awaiting a day when I might finally be able to fix it, because it’s a good story, I just wasn’t a good writer when I wrote it.

“Mermaid’s Curse” is now 93,000 words long. It’s the longest single work of fiction I’ve ever written. And I think it’s good. Okay, it needs editing, and maybe a little trimming here and there, but I wouldn’t be embarrassed to let people read it. More importantly: I’m almost done with it.

I’m seven chapters away from pushing the novel away and saying “YAY! It’s done! I can give it to the editor and not look at it again for a while!”

Self imposed deadlines tell me I’m slow, lethargic even, as I watch other writers churn out thousands of words a day while I barely manage 500. That critical voice tells me I should have had this done MONTHS ago as I still struggle over how to write the final battle scene.

But one year is so much better than five! I should be excited and happy, even a little proud of myself that I am writing as quickly and well as I am at the moment. Not only did I write thirty-seven chapters of high fantasy adventure, I did a full edit on thirty of those chapters, and polished them as well as I was able. Seven more chapters, and a final polish, and it will be FINISHED. In a year.

When I take a step back and get some real perspective it makes me excited for the next project. Each one goes a little faster, so maybe the next novel will be done in six months. The next one after that in three. One step at a time.

If something isn’t quite going the way you want it to just take a step back and look at it from a different angle. Maybe from a new perspective there is still something good about the situation. Lost your sock? SHOPPING!  Lost a job? Great time for a new one. Computer blew up? You needed an upgrade anyway. Computer crashed and you lost your almost complete novel? (Okay that one sucks, go back up your novel right now!)

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in On Writing

 

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FINISHED!

I just sent “Osiren’s Tears” off to the editor! I finished the final chapter at 8pm tonight. I am so excited! But I’m not taking a break now. I have six more books for this series alone, not to mention short stories, and a few paranormal romances and science fiction stories that I have planned.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Updates

 

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