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The beginning is often the hardest story to tell.

A few weeks ago I announced on the Bradbury Challenge that I would be finishing, and publishing, Witch’s Sight. I finally finished writing it tonight, now it just needs a bit of an edit. However, I wanted to give everyone here a quick peek behind the scenes. You get to read it before anyone else.

As you probably know, the Witch’s Trilogy is now finished. While finishing up the last book in the series I started thinking about the origin of the Little Mother, and how she made her own escape from the acolytes. That tale is here, in Witch’s Sight.

I love this world, and I’m going to keep coming back to it with new books down the road. It is such a wonderful world to write in. However, the other stories I have planned for the world of Peyllen don’t take place in the Sea of Tears. They are in the far distant realms beyond the edge of the sea. I will eventually be making a website specifically for Peyllen with a timeline, maps, and some more information about the world at large.

For now, I’m off to write in a different direction, taking a short break from Peyllen to see what other mischief I can get into.

And, as promised, here is Witch’s Sight.

***************

~~Witch’s Sight ~~

Katrina sat in a sea of people, all of them moving at once. They were big as trees, towering over her. Though she clung to mama’s hand, Katrina shivered. The big people were screaming at someone, shouting and calling names. Names she’d never heard before. But she didn’t need to know what they were to know they were bad. Just the way they screamed them out told her so.

The bodies pressed in, jostling her against mama, and she clung with all her might as the sea of people tried to sweep her away.

“Mama!” she screamed, but no one could hear her above all the voices, the screaming. The crying.

Mama grabbed her, and pulled her up into her arms. Safer, Katrina sunk down into mama’s embrace, feeling mama tighten her grip, keeping her safe from the crowds.

“Look away, Katrina,” mama cried. “Don’t look!”

It was an order. Mama gave so few orders, and Katrina tried to obey them all. She did now, shutting her eyes tight as she lay her head against mama’s shoulder. But the commotion outside her mother’s embrace was too enticing. Katrina wanted to look, wanted to see what the people were yelling at, and wanted to see what angered them so.

She blinked, catching glimpses of people towering over a small figure at their feet. Another blink, red blood covering the small figures face, hair a mess.

It was a girl with short hair lying on the ground. The girl tried to scramble to her feet, slipping on the wet stones. She wasn’t much bigger then Jamie, Katrina’s neighbor who came to watch Katrina when mama was in the fields. But Jamie was always smiling and happy, this girl was crying. Dirty tear tracks ran down her face, and she pulled herself away from the crowd, clawing at the stone to get away.

“Why are they so mad, mama? Did she do something bad?”

“Look away, Katrina. You’re so young. You shouldn’t see this.”

Mama pushed through the crowd, elbowing people to get out of the way. Katrina watched as the tiny figure got swallowed up by the crowds, and still she could not understand why they were hurting the girl.

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Posted by on May 6, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Witch’s Curse… a release date?

witch2Remember just three months ago when I put “Witch’s Sacrifice” out into the wild and many of you had an opportunity to read it? The squeal, “Witch’s Curse”, is almost here.

I didn’t know if I could actually do it. For the last three months I’ve been working on it, and it kept growing. “Witch’s Curse” is about 20,0000 words longer than “Witch’s Sacrifice.” It had some pretty big scenes in it too. At times I felt lost, and didn’t know what I would write, or how I could write it. Now?

I do have two chapters to finish, then the editor is suppose to take over next week. But with editing, and all the formatting, a release of August 1st, exactly 3 months and one day since the release of “Witch’s Sacrifice” is looking great.

As for the third and final book in the trilogy, “Witch’s Stand”… I want to have it finished in three months as well (which would be a November release,) but no promises. It is only half finished, and I don’t have a cover for it yet. I also have to rewrite a few things that changed during the writing of book two.

Once the Witch’s Trilogy is complete it’s off to finish a few of the Eternal Tapestry books. I currently have four more planned, and will probably end up with a lot more if people enjoy it.

I also have one more project that I will be doing for NaNoWriMo. A completely new world that I can’t wait to unveil. I already have a really solid plot for NaNoWriMo, and a cover idea. However, just getting the trilogy out this year is enough of an achievement. I will be thrilled to have this new piece out at the beginning of next year.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Updates

 

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The first chapter

As I’m getting close to finishing “Witch’s Curse” (the sequel to Witch’s Sacrifice) I thought I should put up the first chapter in one convenient spot so anyone could read it. This is a bit of a prolog showing how Brother Hawk and Alistir met. You might also want to follow me on Google Plus where I will be adding short snippets from the rest of the book most Saturdays till release.

*** Chapter One ***

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. Old. 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 Hawks 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 times 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 stealing his nerves. It was never good to flinch in front of the enemy. His moment of weakness could be his undoing. But the 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 then 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, just 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 feted 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 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,” a plump acolyte cried, “the bird’s dangerous.”

“No more so then 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 birds 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 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 in use. 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. Bright 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 just yet. But any change in the head leaves an opening for the body to shift, yes? There are things about the brotherhood that even the most diehard adherents cannot stomach, like torturing defenseless birds 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 a hold 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.

Laying on the ground, panting and shiver, 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 hawks form for almost thirty years now. Take some time to find your legs again before straining yourself.”

“Thirty?” Brother Hawks 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 in more ways than he knew over the centuries.

“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.”

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Stories

 

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Changes

witch1This week I finished writing “Mermaid’s Curse”, sent it off to an editor, and started a contest for a cover on 99designs.

That’s a lot of things. And all of it’s pretty awesome. The covers are beautiful, and I’m going to get two of them. One fore the first book and one for the second.

I started a poll yesterday about the name, but ultimately I decided that Trish was right and I had to let go of my magnificent title and make it something more appropriate. Even with the change the cover still works, so that is okay. Because THE COVER IS BEAUTIFUL!

So.. The new titles for the trilogy:

Witch’s Sacrifice, Witch’s Curse, and Witch’s Stand. witch2

If you click on the link above you’ll see that the two artists I’ve chosen have already started adding the new titles. I’m debating about the blurb, but otherwise it’s great. I’m ecstatic with the cover work.

The first chapter of … Witch’s Sacrifice. … is still available here.

Honestly I just can’t wait to have this in my hand. It’s going to be beautiful. Both of them. And then when I get the third I’ll have a complete set. It will be so amazing!

This is more then a year of work coming to fruition. It is so worth it!

Whatever you love, whatever you want to do or be, don’t give up! It’s so worth it. Even if it’s just for myself, even if no one ever reads this, it’s going to feel so good to have it completed on my shelf. (Of course it will feel way better if people actually read it and want to continue reading the rest of them.)

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Updates

 

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Mermaid’s Curse

Over on G+ a lot of authors started doing #SaturdayScenes. That’s where we showcase one scene from one story we are either working on, or have published. I’ve showcased mainly stories from my published books so far. Footprints, Forgotten Ones, Prophecy by Barlight and Small Bites. Yesterday I posted the first snippet from the novel I’ve been working on, and talking about, since October. “Mermaid’s Curse“.

Google Plus is a great community. Lots of authors around. A lot of readers looking for their authors. But… not everyone is on G+. In fact I’ve met people who were violently opposed to going to G+. Somehow I just realized this morning that I should have been sharing these here, on my blog, as well, to compensate for that.

So I’m going to post the excerpt from Mermaid’s Curse here, as well as links to all of the other snippets. If you’d like to read any of them then you’ll have to head over to G+. (sorry).

Now… on with the scenes!

Prophecy by Barlight
Touch Me Not (A complete short story from Small Bites)
Footprints
Battle on the Walls (from Forgotten Ones)

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Mermaid’s Curse

“Little Mother!”

The sudden, unmistakably masculine, voice pulled Marizza out of her studies. Surely she was mistaken. No one could have been on the little island that the mother, Salvia, had taken her to. The nearest island was a day’s journey, and very few were willing to brave the empty seas with the threat of the kraken so close at hand.

“Little Mother? Are you here?”

Strong, deep, and resonating. The voice seemed to draw her, and she thrust the forgotten book aside running to the door. Pressing her ear to the rough wood, she listened.

Salvia warned her to avoid others. Her abilities were still raw, wild, and untamed. With her magic tied to her emotions, she had already destroyed several small items with a miss placed spell during a fit of rage. Marizza figured out it wasn’t her abilities the Little Mother was trying to temper; it was her own emotional outburst. It would have been easier to temper the magic.

She pressed an ear to the door. She hadn’t heard another person in months, and the solitude was wearing on her. Use to busy streets, and a bakery bustling with towns folk, the utter silence of the forgotten island pressed in on her like a thick fog, smothering her. That voice, with its deep timber and melodic chime, rang through her, dispersing the fog for a bright moment.

“Little Mother! I’ve brought the things you asked for!”

Closer. She could hear the slap of bare feet as the man-made his way up the dirt path. A sailor? Many of them were known to walk unshod. It helped them feel the movement of the sea, they said.

There was more to his voice though. Now that he was closer she could hear a magical aura slipping in through the chiming cadence. Whoever he was, he resonated with a latent power. Another witch? Someone she could be around safely?

The cabin began to feel claustrophobic around her as she heard his footsteps nearing the door. Her fingers wrapped around the cold iron door latch, her curiosity gnawing at her. She could hear his footfalls quicken, feel his vibrant aura of strength just beyond the door.

She yanked the offending wood open—

And came face to face with the most beautiful man she had ever witnessed. His eyes were a startling shade of ice blue, his skin a milky white, almost translucent in the morning sunlight. His black hair hung in wet braids down to his bare shoulders.

Flushing bright red, Marizza lowered her gaze only to be greeted by the stark evidence of his complete nudity. A naked, wet god had emerged from the waters only to torment her.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Stories

 

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What is ‘Evil’?

Last night on “The Story Telling Podcast” we were talking about what makes a good villain, and making them less cliche. So I started to think; What does ‘evil’ really mean?

The idea of something being inherently evil isn’t new. Man started walking upright and venturing out of their caves and into open land where more food was available, but so was more danger. I am sure the various monsters of the time trying to eat them seemed ‘evil’.  As they developed into societies they also had to worry about rival bands of early hominids. Wolves, bears, and lone people out in the deep forests. That is why most of the villains in old fairy tales are woodland creatures and witches in the woods.

But society has changed. We now have scientific understanding of how ecologies work, and how to avoid danger in the deep dark woods. We know how to light up the night so they aren’t as dark anymore. Those old fairy tales that use to scare our children into avoiding “the evil places” aren’t relevant to our modern age. The idea of ‘evil’ has changed, just as we have.

Now our biggest fears are natural disasters that we can not anticipate or stop, and other people.

If you watch the news it is clear that the world is polarized as to who they think is really ‘evil’. Extremist religious groups blame other religious groups. One country blames another nation. Politicians blame social media and ban twitter or Youtube. Corporations blame taxes. Poor blame corporations.

So who, or what, is really evil? Who is capable of really deciding?

Religious folks will point at god, and say god decides. But which god? There are so many to choose from, many of which teach similar things, but none of which are in full agreement. Then you add in the fact that interpretations of religious text has shifted over the centuries as culture has shifted. That is as evident as the multiple branches of EVERY religion now seen. It doesn’t matter which religion you look at, Christian, Islam, Buddhism, pagan… they all have sub sects that have differences in their belief structure.

The scientific minded among us might look to culture, but culture shifts and turns. Culture depends on so many facets of human development. Just ten years ago we still taught our children “being gay is wrong”, now several states have gay marriage, and the number is growing. And while I admit that it seems like the spread of some religions is part of the reason being gay was deemed  “wrong”, it isn’t the entirety of it, and it will take a lot of work to fix the damage done.

What is evil? I think the simplest answer is “that which threatens a persons livelihood.” Be that a wolf trying to eat you in the dark forest, a rabid st bernard named Cujo, a wall street tycoon sucking up every last dime he can at the expense of real jobs, or someone taking over a plane and flying it into a building.

Evil is in the moment. It is dependent on a myriad of circumstances in our lives, and while one finds it evil another will hail them a hero. The tycoon doesn’t think he’s evil, he thinks he’s doing a fantastic job and won at life. The man in the plane thought he was striking a vicious blow at the capitalist pigs. Cujo was only doing what the virus told him to do.

Or ideas of evil change as we change. So do the creatures in the dark. Of all the creatures that haunted our dreams (vampires, werewolves, and witches) only zombies seemed untouched. Movies sprang up and they were just as scary as before. No zombie with sexy eyes, or illicit love affairs. No zombies trying to make peace with the humans. Just masses of rabid creatures that once looked human.

Until “Warm Bodies”.

So many of our dark creatures have been changed into something that was just misunderstood, and now we can be friends. Or if not friends, grudging allies. Now all we have left to fear is each other, and maybe the technology we create.

If evil is “that which threatens a persons livelihood” then the only thing more evil then humanity is time itself.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Commentary

 

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