A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, February 28, 2014

Short Story - Kayin's Wrath, Part One

This takes place a century after the events in Marked, so you can see a glimpse of the world that was. The Majin, or so they call themselves now, are only beginning to venture out of their valley. They're curious how the world has changed. But it's not as different as they hoped.

Kayin Monette stood on the edge of the crowd gathered around the fresh grave. The cleric finished his eulogy and people began tossing flowers and dirt onto the casket. Kayin unraveled the threads that kept her from being seen. No one seemed to notice her odd entrance. Thank the Goddess for that, she thought. The last thing she needed was a panic to cause more deaths.
Kayin tossed a wreath made of star eye blossoms and golden drops onto the wooden lid before turning and limping away. It was harder to get around and soon she would have to give some thought to returning to the valley. She was like so many of the Majin, curious about the world but uncomfortable in it. It was only one hundred cycles since their flight to the valley. It was now easier for them to move freely about Lytharia, but things weren't settled yet. There were those in the valley, among the oldest of them all, who still remembered the dark days.
Most of the mourners barely glanced at her. All they saw was a half-crippled woman. They passed her by without taking note of her eye color. Only one person stopped to take a very good look at her face. He looked like just another villager, slightly wealthier than most, but still very common.
She made her way towards the village, ignoring him though she kept an eye on his threads. When they began to shift, she dove to the side. A globe of burning light passed over where she'd been.
“You do not know who you've challenged,” Kayin said. Her hands moved and the man screamed as his body bent and contorted. “Tell me, are you the one who killed Fenrod?”
The mage managed to get one hand free. He gestured and Kayin heard a low growl. She looked over her shoulder. A construct that looked to be a remorth crossed with a bronmar lunged towards her. The antlers sprouting out of the beast's head were spiked at the end.
Kayin threw the mage back as she dodged his monstrous creation. She reached out and started unraveling its threads. She dodged it a few more times before with a groan the creature collapsed, falling into its separate parts.
Only the rush of air warned her of the mage's spell. She whirled around and caught him once more in her threads. “Demon,” he yelled.
“Look who's talking,” Kayin said. “You're the one who attacked me. Did you kill Fenrod?”
“All of you silver eyed devils must die,” he said. “My grandfather taught us that. The Emperor was tricked by you. You used your unnatural power on him and seized your freedom by trickery and force.”
Kayin twisted his threads. His scream was cut off as she wrapped one around his throat. “Fanatics like you are the reason we're still being murdered,” Kayin said. “That is something we do not tolerate.” She tightened the line around his throat. He scrabbled at it with his hands, turning purple as she cut off his air. She held him until he went limp. She released him. He dropped to the ground in a heap.
“Murderer,” a woman cried.
“He attacked me first,” Kayin said. “Of course I'm going to defend myself. Not to mention he killed one of my dearest friends.”
“You're a murderer,” the woman repeated. She looked around. “She should die.”
“You stand accused of a grave crime,” a man in the flowing robes of a cleric of the Guardians “You will have to face judgment.”
“I'll pass that now,” an aging man in fine clothes said. “Siward was the aggressor. She didn't do anything more than protect herself. Also, Siward created an abomination when he was told to stop his experimentation. I'd have put him to death anyway. This woman just saved me the time.”
“My husband did nothing wrong,” the woman said.
“He deserved his fate and that's my final word on it. If you don't like what I've done, take yourself out of this town because I have the final word,” the man said. He approached Kayin. “I'm Algar Kolar, mayor of Clearhaven.”
“Kayin Monette of the Majin,” Kayin said.
“Mistress Monette, I would very much enjoy it if you joined me for the midday meal in a candlemark,” Algar said.
“It's very obvious I'm not welcome here,” Kayin said.
“If anything happens to you I'll either exile them or have them killed,” Algar said. “Please, don't let the actions of one man sway you from enjoying my hospitality.”
“I would be honored, Mayor Kolar, to accept your offer,” Kayin said.
“Then I'll see you in a candlemark,” Algar said. “You may ask anyone here to show you to my house.” He strode off.
A woman in black came forward, a young boy clinging to her skirt. “You're Kayin Monette?” she asked.
“I am,” Kayin said. “You must be Agata.” The woman nodded. “Fenrod often talked about you.”
“I'm glad he was so fond of me,” Agata said. “There were some days where I know he wanted to be back in the valley, but I didn't think it would be safe for Yrian to travel so far until he was older.”
“The road can be dangerous,” Kayin said. “Fenrod could do many things, but we're not all powerful. We can be killed, as you saw.”
Agata nodded. “Do you – do you know if Yrian will have the silver eyes?”
“There isn't any way to know until someone starts playing with the threads,” Kayin said. “That's what turns our eyes silver.”
“Why would anyone want to kill my da?” Yrian asked. “Da never hurt people. He just farmed and went to market. He took care of us.”
“Agata, did Fenrod ever tell you or Yrian the history of our people?” Kayin asked.
“He told me,” Agata said. “He said he'd tell Yrian one day.”
“Then I think he should know why someone hunted his father down,” Kayin said. “I could tell him but it might be easier for him if you did.”
“I'll do that,” Agata said. “When we get home. He deserves to know how cruel people can be.” “Mistress Monette, it's not going to be safe for you on the streets or at the inn. Why don't you come to our house for a little while? When it's time I'll show you where the mayor lives.”
Kayin saw several of the townsfolk watching her again. The wary look on some of their faces warned her. “I think I'd better,” she said. The three of them walked off together.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reviews - the problems that can arise because of trolls and what we should do

So many people have already talked about this, but I'm going to put in my two cents' worth too. Book reviews. Book reviews are not for the author. They are for other readers. They tell us people's opinions and why they thought that about the book. Whether it's a one star, a five star, or something in between, it's to let people know the writer's opinion. It's not to bully the author or badmouth them.

Then we get to the cyber bullies. The ones who post one star reviews that blast the author as an individual. They threaten physical harm or post personal insults to the author themselves. They are there only to drive down the author and damage his/her ranking online, to injure their self esteem, and to bring others into their damaging mindset.

There are also author bullies. They are the ones who go batshit crazy about a negative review. They go off on the reviewer and start a flame war that leads to people chiming in about the author's bad behavior. This just leads to more drama from the author to the point where people are put off from their books because of this behavior.

The truth of it is reviews can lead to many different things. We need to stop and take a look at what we're doing. Are we reviewing the book because the author insulted us in some way? Then we probably shouldn't post it. Are we reviewing it honestly because of our opinion? That's a little better. Do we disagree with another reviewer's opinion? We keep our mouths shut and respect that it's their opinion. The only time we intercede is if it's a bullying opinion. Then on Amazon we can vote it down. Goodreads we can report it (as far as I know...I haven't been on there in a while because of the cyber bullying). There are ways we can bring these to the attention of those in charge of the website and hopefully someone will take care of it.

To summarize, be respectful of the author but don't be afraid to voice your opinion. Make sure it's on the book and not on the author. Authors, don't answer reviews. Keep your mouth shut and let your readers speak their minds. If you see someone cyber bullying another person, report it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Internet panic attacks

I want to talk a moment about causing yourself a panic attack when you read an article online on what you think is a reputable site. It can happen to all of us. I know it happened to me last week. I saw this article here and about had a heart attack. I'm on food stamps and being forced to buy products made in Idaho would wipe out my budget faster because they're more expensive.

Now, I've done more research and none of the other local news feeds have picked up on this. Which means they either don't see it as big news or it's not going to happen. I don't really know which one it is. But I've also checked the Department of Health and Welfare's site and I don't see anything on there about it either. So I don't know if it's going to happen or not.

I trust Boise Weekly because they've had some interesting articles but sometimes I don't know how accurate they are. No one else reports on them. So I never know if it's accurate or just not reported. But what's important here is by reading something, I need to stop reacting to it and do the research first.

That's what we all need to do. There's a lot of stuff on the internet and a lot of it is not accurate or even true. We can't take a page at face value. Snopes is a good place to look for some things. It can debunk or confirm some of those stories people post on Facebook or you get in the email. Always check another source – or two, or three – before you decide it's true.

What about you? Has there ever been an article you got upset about before researching it? What was it about?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Reviews - Hidden, Land of Shadows

Two books to review today. The first is Hidden by Megg Jensen. The other is Land of Shadows by Jeff Gunzel. Both were picked up when they were listed as free e-books on Amazon. Land of Shadows is still free.

I found out about Hidden from the author herself on her Facebook page. I'd been wanting to read it for some time so I jumped at the chance to get it. I wasn't disappointed. Tressa is an amazing character. Her fierce independence and her drive to do something to help her people is amazing. Bastian, the one man she loves but couldn't be with due to the breeding lottery they found themselves caught up in, is completely devoted to her as well. When they and another friend venture out of the fog that's surrounded the village since before she was born, what they find there will leave them changed forever.

At first I found it hard to get into, but that quickly changed. I devoured the book in two days. Ms. Jensen has a captivating way of telling a story, and her characters are real people. They have their good points and their bad. They make mistakes. They pay for those mistakes. The world she's built here as well is very interesting. The settings are such an integral part of things that they almost seem to be a character in and of themselves.

You can find Hidden here.

Land of Shadows was found when I was perusing the Amazon Top 100 Free list one day. This is where I get a lot of my books, for the most part fantasy and sci fi, and I decided when I read the blurb that this one looked a little interesting. I was right.

I admit, I anticipated it being the standard “prophesied quest fulfillment”. I really wasn't that far off, but that only scratches the skin of this story. Eric is perfectly happy with his mundane life. When demons come and destroy that illusion, he must now find his way in the world. His best friend sticks with him and the two of them set off together with a mysterious young woman to find out where his future will lead him.

This was another book that sucked me in after a few chapters. I found myself bored partway through but continued to see if it got better. It did. I finished the whole book in two days. I couldn't bring myself to leave the story. There's a second book to the series that I wish was on the free list. I want to read it. It's gone on my Amazon wish list so I can pick it up when I have the chance.

You can find Land of Shadows here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Short Story - Lycantha Blossoms, Part Two

Ailsa is still grieving the loss of her soul bond. The others struggle to save her from her impending death.

“I overheard you ordering that woman out of our House,” Kelledron said.
“If she returns, she's dead,” Thanolos said.
“At least we're rid of her,” Kelledron said. “I wouldn't have put it past her to have me murdered so Ailsa's husband could have inherited House Wintersong.”
“We'd never allow it,” Hania said as she joined them. “Eliana's working something unusual I take it?” Kelledron told her. “If that doesn't work, nothing will.” The three of them retreated to the small chapel dedicated to Illior to pray for the souls of the dead and the life of one young Elven woman.
Ailsa opened her eyes onto a darkened room. She knew without calling her mage lights that she was alone. She rose to her feet and drifted out onto her balcony. She looked down, judging the distance to the ground. It was far enough that she would die when she struck the courtyard below. She rested one hand on the smooth marble rail. Not that way, ne salan, a voice whispered into her mind.
“Torgeir?” Ailsa whispered, her disbelief plain.
The pale spirit of her murdered soul mate appeared before her. Not that way, ne salan, he repeated. Your father seeks comfort from Illior, and he finds none. He will find even less in the sight of his beloved daughter's body should you jump.
“I can't live without you,” Ailsa said. She began to sob. “It feels like my own soul has been ripped out of me. I can't breathe and I feel so cold.”
Illior does not require such a thing of either of us, ne salan, Torgeir assured her. Go to the garden. He faded away.
Ailsa crept out of her door, her slippered feet making no more than a faint hiss against the stone. Kelledron was sleeping in a chair beside the door. She held her breath as she moved past him. She ran down the stairs. There were no servants with prying eyes to see her.
No one was in the hall leading to the nursery. Since her departure from there some seasons earlier, it was left empty. She made her way out of the glass doors that led into the garden. She made her way to her Life Tree, where Torgeir's spirit awaited her. “I'm here,” she said.
Ne salan, Torgeir murmured. He smiled at her. Will you place your trust in Illior?
Yes,” Ailsa said without hesitation.
Then come to me, ne salan, Torgeir said. He held out his arms. Ailsa trembled as she stepped across the short distance into his arms. As their hands met, she returned his smile. He pulled her into a loving embrace. Soon all she could see was light.
“Father, Ailsa's gone. I can't find her.” Kelledron was frantic. He ran into his father's study. Thanolos and the twins were brought to their feet. “She got past me somehow. I swear I cast the wakefulness charm but something put me to sleep.”
“Illior only knows what kind of strength Ailsa has in her madness,” Thanolos said, absolving his son of any wrong-doing in his sister's escape. “We have to find her.”
The whole family split up, looking for any sign of the missing girl. Kelledron searched the garden. In the corner, next to her Life Tree, he found his sister's favorite bracelet. “Father.” His voice rang through the air.
Thanolos, Eliana, and Hania hurried to join him. Ailsa's Life Tree withered, showing that she was dead. Ailsa's sunstone bracelet gleamed in the light of the moon. “She's gone,” Thanolos said. His voice broke.
“Where's her body?” Eliana asked, tears falling down her cheeks.
Something brushed against Kelledron's hand. He looked down to find himself staring at a flower he didn't know. He called up a mage light so he could see them better. They were delicate blossoms of the palest azure with startling golden centers. They smelled of sunlight and his sister's favorite perfume. Just looking at them comforted him. “Father, look.”
“Where did these come from?” Thanolos asked.
Lycantha,” Eliana said, her voice full of wonder.
“What is that?” Thanolos asked.
Illior took Ailsa,” Hania said. “He wasn't going to force her to live without Torgeir. He's left us this flower in exchange for her body. It is called a lycantha blossom, a spirit flower. It will wrap around her Life Tree and flower during the warm seasons. Its seeds can be planted elsewhere, the vines growing up in the garden. A lycantha only grows in the ground of the House the spirit came from.”

 There was nothing else to say. The twins returned to the manor while Kelledron and his father stood beside each other, staring at the blooms. Kelledron reached down and hooked the vine over one of the branches. “There,” he said. “Her Life Tree will continue to live, if only in these little flowers.” The two men walked back to the house.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Short Story - Lycantha Blossoms, Part One

Not all my stories take place on the continent of Vassa. The world is larger than that, with several different lands. This story takes place in one of those other places.

Ailsa Wintersong stared out over the dark forest, her eyes full of tears. She wrung her hands together, her nails cutting fine lines into her delicate fingers. The woman beside her took hold of them and pressed them against the window sill. “Ailsa, he's not returning,” she said, her voice carrying her irritation. “Why don't you accept that Illior has other plans for you?”
Ailsa pulled her hands free. “You're wrong.” Her voice choked in her throat. “The High Priestess confirmed that Torgeir and I are soul bonded. He's coming back. He has to.” She turned and fled back into the house.
“That was incredibly stupid, Rada,” Kelledron said. Ailsa's elder half brother, and heir to the Wintersong line, was leaning against the gleaming wall of the House's hereditary manor.
Lady Rada Wintersong glowered at her stepson. He took every chance he could get to remind her that, while Ailsa was a highly honored member of the Wintersong household, Rada herself was considered little more than an outsider by the rest of the House. The Law of Blood granted familial rights to the children of a second mating, but not to the mate in question.
“Well, oh wise one, what do you suggest?” she asked, biting off her words.
“I was going to suggest asking Aunt Eliana and Aunt Hania what to do,” Kelledron said. “They've been out in the world more than the rest of us. Perhaps they have some ideas.”
“Then go pester them,” Rada said. She turned on her heal and flounced off. Kelledron ventured deeper into the house until he came to the parlor where his twin aunts were sitting.
“Aunt Eliana, Aunt Hania, are you busy?” Kelledron asked, keeping his tone respectful. Of all his family members, his twin aunts were his favorite. His own mother died when he was very young and the two of them took over raising him, teaching him all there was to know about being a Day Elf. Once he was old enough to pass into the care of a proper tutor, the two Bards once again left Sunhaven for the farlands. They returned every few seasons to let their loved ones know they were alive.
“What is it Kell?” Hania asked.
“It's Ailsa,” Kelledron said, sitting down between the sisters. “She's soul bonded to Torgeir Darksun, but Rada keeps trying to force her into another marriage.”
“Was it confirmed by the High Priestess?” Eliana asked. Kelledron nodded. She shook her head. “We have noticed Ailsa looking more and more distraught. What's happened?”
“No one really knows,” Kelledron said. “There was a small group sent to establish the new waypoint at the other end of the forest. Father told me that Torgeir and Ailsa were going to be asked to be in charge of it. Two survivors made it back to let us know that the Crimson Elves attacked the caravan. They swear that Torgeir and one other were taken prisoner.” He shook his head. “That goes against everything we've ever been told about them.”
“The Crimson Elves are insane,” Eliana said. “You never know what those – those beasts – are capable of.”
“Eliana's right,” Hania said. “The question remains though, what do they want with living prisoners?”
Before Kelledron could answer, a terrible cry filled the house. The voice, familiar only to Kelledron, was full of such grief, rage, and pain that the three elves broke into tears. “Ailsa.” Kelledron was on his feet in an instant, knocking servants aside as he charged down the corridor, his aunts right behind him.
Ailsa was lying at the foot of the stairs, blood trickling from her nose and head. “He's dead,” she wailed. Her whole body shook. “He's dead.”
“What's this nonsense about?” Rada asked as she came to her daughter's side. She reached down and slapped Ailsa. “What are you talking about?”
Hania's sword hissed as it left its sheathe. Rada gulped hard and backed away from Ailsa's prone form. “The Law of Blood doesn't apply to you, Rada,” Hania said. With a flick of her wrist, she slashed Rada's face.
“What's going on here?” Thanolos Wintersong asked. He was Kelledron and Ailsa's father and the head of the House. “Hania, why is my wife bleeding?”
“She assaulted Ailsa,” Hania said. “Who is clearly suffering from a rather violently severed soul bond.”
“What?” Thanolos asked, turning his attention to his two children.
“Torgeir was captured by Crimson Elves,” Kelledron said, reminding his father of the recent tragedy. “I think they just killed him.”
“They slaughtered him, like an animal,” Ailsa said, whimpering. Her eyes were wide. “I saw it. I felt it.”
“Eliana, can you - ?” Thanolos asked.
“Kell, carry your sister up to her room,” Eliana said. “I'll be up in a moment.”
Kelledron lifted Ailsa into his arms. He looked at the stairs for a moment before summoning a floating disk in the sapphire and silver hues of his House colors. He stepped onto it. It lifted him up the stairs without jarring his sister. Eliana took the more conventional way up.
“Now, Hania, why is Rada bleeding?” Thanolos asked.
“Rada, or so I've been told by the servants, didn't approve of the match that Illior decreed for Ailsa,” Hania said. “Kell told us that Rada wanted Ailsa to choose another husband. Torgeir's disappearance was tearing Ailsa apart.”
“Do you know what happened to her?” Thanolos asked.
“She must have fallen down the stairs when the Crimson Elves killed Torgeir,” Hania said. She lowered her sword and looked over at her brother. “Thano, it's very rare that the surviving member of a shattered soul bond lives long past the other one.
“I know.” Thanolos looked down at his hands for a moment. “How long do you think Ailsa has?”
“It depends on her spirit,” Hania said. “If she wants to live, a moon or two. If not, I'd give her no more than a sennight.”
“What are you talking about?” Rada asked. “There was no soul bond. That was just the Darksun's way of trying to take control of this House. Ailsa's not going to die just because he's dead.”
Thanolos turned to Rada. She could see the barely controlled rage on his face. “Leave my House,” he said. “I took you as my second mate only because it was required of me by the Council. Your father got his male heir, and I was given my daughter. The contract was satisfied. You are no longer necessary.” He turned to his sister. “Hania, if she's not out of here in one mark, kill her.”
“As you wish, Thano,” Hania said. There was no disguising the satisfaction she felt at that command. She put her hand on the hilt of her sword. A bloodthirsty smile twisted the corners of her mouth up. Rada realized that there was a chance Hania wouldn't wait for the mark to be up. She paled and, not stopping to collect any of her things, ran from the manor.
Thanolos made his way to his daughter's room. Kelledron was standing outside, his pale blue clothing stained with blood. “Aunt Eliana said no one's supposed to go in right now,” he whispered. “She's trying some complicated magic on Ailsa. She says that soul bonding isn't unheard of among the Plains Elves, and that they have ways of preventing the death of the other half.”

“I hope it does,” Thanolos said.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Benefits of small press publishing

We've talked about traditional publishing and self publishing. Now we're onto the third option for writers these days: small press publishers. They're, by nature of their name, smaller than the NY based publishers. They're spread out all over the world. And they don't require an agent to get into.

Now, one of the benefits that small presses have over their larger counterparts is the size of the slush piles. There are fewer authors to compete with so it's more likely your book is going to get read. Chances are if they like your book well enough, they'll give you a shot.

Small press publishers are also more likely to take on a new author. It's hard to break into the business if you're just starting out. The publishing giants might have a hard time noticing you if your work isn't best seller class material. But a small press will take on new writers, so long as they write what the publisher is looking for and it's a good quality piece.

If you're writing in a niche that isn't very well supported by the bigger publishers, you're going to find it hard to sell your book to them. They don't want to take the risk. But the small press publishers are more willing to take a chance on you. You may not write in an easily definable genre, or you might be opening up a new niche for yourself. Chances are, again if you're writing quality work, someone will choose to give you a chance and publish it within the small presses.

The larger publishing companies tend to overlook what an author wants to go with what they think sells. This may or may not be something the author wants to do. With small presses, you maintain more control over your work. This sometimes includes the type of cover art, how your blurb is presented, if you want to do just print copies or e-books or both. As an author with a small press you have many more choices. More often than not, if you do print copies, you'll be working with a POD service like CreateSpace. This saves on overhead and the cost of a warehouse.

Again, small publishing may not be what you're looking for. As always, do the research. Decide what you want to do. If you want to try your hand at multiple things, go for it. There's always something to learn.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The benefits of self publishing

So yesterday, we talked about the advantages of having an agent. Today, I'm going to talk about the pros of self publishing. Now to be clear, there is a difference between indie publishing and self publishing. Self publishing means you do it all yourself. Indie publishing generally means you're working with a small, independent publisher that doesn't have the power of the Big 6 and leaves you in full control of your works.

There are a lot of pros for self publishing. The first one of course is speed. Instead of waiting two years for your book to get out, you can have an e-book published in a few weeks and a POD print copy of your book doesn't take much longer. You get to set your own time frame too. You can plan how often you want to sell, when you want to publish, etc.

You get more control over the planning, editing, and publishing of your book. You're also in charge of the marketing, which is a pro and con in and of itself. Decisions are made and managed by the author. Part of the marketing is building your platform. You don't have to do it as someone else dictates. You can set it up however you want. When it comes to editing, you have the autonomy to pick whoever you want to edit and review your book. You can choose your own beta readers and find the editor that you think will work best for you.

You retain all the rights to your work. You don't have to worry about needing permission to publish your back stock. You don't have to ask permission to sell on different sites. You can republish old works if you want. You can reach your desired audience by a simple act of advertising in the right places. You can work individually with foreign distributors to get your books on more virtual bookshelves.

There's no excess inventory. You don't have to worry about warehouses full of unsold books that may potentially cost you money out of your royalties. You can sell copies of your books as they're requested and not have to worry too much about the print costs to you.

When you make a sale, you keep the majority of the profit. A lot of publishers take a large cut, and this is due to the amount of overheads they have. If you self publish your overheads are reduced, though not done away with completely since you do still have to pay for the utilities and other services you may purchase, and can get a bigger portion of the money.

Another benefit of self publishing is that your book gets more shelf time. The shelf life of a traditionally published book is thirty to sixty days in a bookstore. Once that's done, your book either gets sent back to the publisher or moved on to other places. Some remain there, but are moved to a different spot on the shelf so you aren't going to get as much exposure as you do online.

There are cons to everything so take some time to look up the cons for yourself. There are some definite differences that may or may not cause you to rethink the process. Just as there are cons for agents and indie publishing. As always, do the research and make up your own mind.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The benefits of getting an agent

In today's changing market, we hear so many contradicting things. “You need an agent.” “You don't need an agent. Just self publish.” “Going indie press is the best.” The question isn't what is right for everyone. It's what is right for you.

Now, I will admit to wanting a publishing contract with the Big 6. I know a lot of authors who would just rather keep full control of their works and go one of the other routes. This doesn't mean I won't make that decision for my own writing in the end.

Today I'm talking about what it takes to find an agent. I've started doing the research because my goal is to start querying Marked by the end of this year. I hope to be ready by October to start, but we'll see how that goes.

Now, the first stop I made in my research was Jody Hendlund's blog (http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/). She has a post that she published back in 2011 about the six benefits of having an agent. Here's a rundown of that list.

  1. Agents have connections. Agents keep in contact with the publishing industry. They have the contacts, work behind the scenes with those in the editing and publishing companies, and are always on the look out for new ways to help their clients.
  2. Agents help with career planning. They can work together with you to make plans for your long term career.
  3. Agents act as arbitrators and negotiators. Agents are skilled at acting as go-betweens. Even if you have a good relationship with your publisher, it helps to have someone who can keep a professional outlook when you become more emotionally involved in a project.
  4. Agents offer feedback on books. Many agents will read the books and offer their own editorial comments on the book before they try to sell it.
  5. Agents can provide emotional support. Things can discourage you with the full process of the writing industry. An agent can be encouraging when you need the boost.
  6. Agents are in touch with the industry pulse. With the speed things are changing, authors may get behind. Agents keep track of the market and what's selling, what the options are, and what publishers want.

Agent Rachelle Gardner offers another perspective on it in this blog post. http://www.rachellegardner.com/2013/04/the-benefits-of-having-an-agent/ To summarize this one, there are a lot of steps of the process that an agent can help with. They help make your proposal shine, they interact with your publisher, they work through helping you understand your contract, and many other things. There is more to the blog post than I could summarize here. I suggest going to read it yourself.

As I did the research I found a lot of pages that offered suggestions. All you have to do is search them out. Now, there are cons for choosing an agent as well. As with self publishing and indie publishing, research both sides and make your decisions based on the pros, cons, and your own personal choice.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Short Story - Mama's Angels

Small feet pattered across the cracked tile floor. Two figures in flowing white nightgowns crept along, stifling giggles as they slipped along towards the spiraling staircase leading to the rest of the house. A tiny bell chimed discordantly from the hall. They paused just at the top of the stairs.
The only light below came from the moon shining through the broken windows. She sat on a worn settee and stared out at the encroaching rose bushes. Thorns as long as her hand gleamed in the silver light, looking like strange and twisted daggers.
She knew the children were there. The giggling was unmistakable. She didn't look up, though. She closed her eyes and prayed for sleep to come. It didn't. It never did. Not since that day. She fingered the pendant around her neck and cursed her husband. Her imprecations didn't matter. He was dead, buried and turned to dust.
The children giggled again. She sighed. “Back to bed with you,” she called.
“Why mama?” The voice was of her beautiful Light. “We want to stay up and watch the moon too.”
“Don't you love us, mama?” That was Gale. His piping voice was as easy to recognize as that of his sister.
“You know I love you,” she said, rising from the settee. Agony ripped through her heart as she turned to stare into the faces of her children. She walked towards the stairs with slow, heavy steps. Her tangled hair brushed against her back and the tattered remnants of her nightgown stirred up dust on the broken tile.
“Mama, tell us a story,” Light begged. Her smile was bright. “Tell us the story.”
The woman stopped, swaying a little on her feet. That wasn't a request she'd heard for a long time. She halfway hoped to never hear it again. “The story?” she asked.
“Yes! Yes!” Gale shouted, jumping up and down. He looked like a little boy pleading for his favorite treat.
She bowed her head. “Come down here and join me then,” she whispered. She returned to her seat. The children scampered down and climbed into her lap. Their little bodies were cold and hard as they squirmed around in her lap. They settled into comfortable positions and waited.
“Tell us, mama,” Light demanded.
“Once upon a time, there was a little family that lived together in a grand mansion,” the woman began. “To everyone else, they appeared happy and loving. The parents seemed to dote on the two little angels they'd been given to raise. But the mother wasn't pleased with them. To her, they damaged her beauty and limited the amount of pleasure she could take in life because of her vanity.” A tear slid down one cheek. “Her husband was a kind man who couldn't understand why his wife didn't love the angels as much as he did.”
“What happened next, mama?” Gale asked when she paused.
“One night the woman was sitting by the window dreaming and singing to herself. She was admiring a new necklace in her small hand mirror. The angels came downstairs, frightened by bad dreams. The woman, angry with the interruption, scolded them instead of offering them comfort. The children ran back up to their room.” Her hands trembled and the words choked her.
“Go on, mama,” Light said. Her eyes flickered a restless crimson.
“One of the angels knocked over the candle used to guard against the night,” the woman said. “Their mother ignored their screams until it was too late. All of the upper part of the house was aflame and the angers were dead. She was blamed at first but her grief made most people believe her when she said it was an accident. Her husband never forgave her and she was cursed.”
“How was she cursed, mama?” Gale asked.
“She was forced to live in the house that was where she'd been happiest, and was the place of her greatest sorrow,” she said. “There she lives to this day. She is unable to die and unable to forget. She watches as the world she knew leaves her behind.”
“What else?” Light demanded.
“She is haunted by her angels, who have become demons to punish her for her crime,” she said in a barely audible voice.
Light laughed. “We're going to be together forever and ever, aren't we?” She wrapped her bony arms around the woman's neck and hugged her.
“Yes, Light. We'll be together forever and ever.”

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reviews ahead

I've been trying to read a book a day, though one of the books I'm reviewing now it took me two days to read. Partially because it was awesome but I had other things I needed to focus on so I took a break after a couple hours the first day and finished it up the second. All of these were free e-books from Amazon, three of which I found through the "Top 100 Free" in the Kindle Store.

The first book I read was actually something I've wanted to have for a long time. It's the first book in Patti Larsen's Hayle Coven books, Family Magic. I've been interested in seeing how the story unfolds since I first heard about it from Patti herself. So when Patti announced that it was free on Amazon, I jumped at the chance to pick it up.

In the beginning of the story, we meet Sydlyn Hayle (who prefers to be called Syd). She's a rebellious teenager who hates the fact that she's the member of a magical family. She just wants to be normal, and not have to deal with everything. When someone endangers the coven, Syd has to step up and help save her coven.

I was initially put off by how whiny Syd appeared in the beginning. But I moved past that further into the book and was thrilled to see her step up to the plate. I really like this first book and will be moving on in the series when I can. You can get it at the following links:


The next book, which turned out to be more of a novella, was A Dark Kiss of Rapture by Sylvia Gray. In it, we meet Raze, a fallen angel turned vampire. Raze has never found a woman he could love. As the story unfolds, we're taken through a dark and twisted maze to search out an enemy who's managed to dump a dead body on his doorstep. He tracks them to Chicago, where he meets the one woman who has opened his heart. When she's put in danger, Raze steps up to protect her.

This was a wonderful story. Intense, fast paced, but it didn't leave anything out. I'd love to read the rest of the books in the serial and will be picking them up as soon as possible. You can get it at the following places:


The third book I tried reading was Phantom Summer by Amy Sparling. Seventeen year old Taylor Gray moves in with her mother to get away from her traumatic past. When she gets there, she picks up a job doing ghost tours. The guy running it becomes more than just a friend. When Taylor sees a real ghost, her past comes crashing down on her head again.

I will admit, I didn't get through this one. I just couldn't get into the story. I'm not sure if it was the characters, the flow of the story, or the pace since it seemed a little slow to me. I'm not saying it's not a good book. It just wasn't right for me. I don't suggest you take my word for it. Go buy the book yourself and see what you think. You can find it on Amazon:


The fourth book I read was the one that took me two days instead of just one. That book is Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis. I loved this story and would have finished it in one day except, as I said earlier, I had other things to do and didn't want to get too sucked in.

Jacque is a 17 year old looking forward to her senior year in high school. When a gorgeous Romanian foreign exchange student moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends figure they're just going to be sighing over him and drooling a little whenever they see him.

Then Fane and Jacque discover they have a bond deeper than any either of them has felt before. The only problem is Fane is a werewolf, the son of the Alpha in Romania to be precise and the prince of the pack there. Jacque is his fated mate. Fane never expected to find her in a small Texas town, so he's unprepared for his reaction to her.

Their relationship is threatened by the crazy Alpha in the small town and someone else stepping up to claim Jacque as his mate, even though it's obvious she belongs with Fane. Fane and Jacque have to fight their way through the situation to remain together.

To start, the start of things made me giggle because of Jacque and Fain's confusion. Neither of them expected to have their life mates show up before the senior year of high school started. Fane was actually planning on it taking a couple centuries. So imagine his surprise when he encounters her. The story gets a little more serious as the conflict with the local werewolves gets worse. But they fight it to the end and come out on top. This is another book I can highly recommend. It's still free on Amazon and Smashwords for a little while longer. You can find it at the places below:


All of these reviews are my own, and not influenced in any way by the authors. I would recommend picking up the books and making your own decisions regarding them. Mine are just one in the many that all of these have received.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Well, it's been a while

I know, I know.

I keep doing this.

I'll post like crazy for a while and then it falls off and I stop talking to everyone here for days/weeks/months on end. It's not because I don't love all of you. It's because I just don't know what to say. I mean, being an introvert I'm not great at small talk and personally I hate small talk on a blog anyway. If I'm reading a blog I want something interesting, something worth reading. And really, I don't feel like what I have to say is worth reading.

But I'm going to start over again anyway. This blog post was written Saturday night but as you can tell, it's going live Sunday morning. As of this coming week I'm going to be posting more here. At first, it's just going to be 2-3 times a week unless I find something I find that I want to share with you. Then it'll be more often.

One of the things I'm going to start doing in the coming months is sharing some of the shorter bits (as in non-novels...I can't guarantee there won't be some novella length fiction broken up into "chapters") of stories from my fantasy world of Vassa. You may remember me referring to it with Erondhal, Lytharia, Sindla, and a few other things. Yes, you're finally going to get to see a better glimpse of it.

This is coinciding with the writing and editing of the first novel I'm seriously going to try to get published - the ever aggravating Marked. (No seriously, I've tried three times to write a first draft I liked. I think I have one this time, but we'll see.) I plan on starting to query this starting in October, so I'm going to have to do a lot of work between now and then.

I am also looking for beta readers, as always. It's a little over 120k right now. It's length can change varied upon the editing I do next month and what my primary beta reader says. But I want more opinions than just one. So if you're interested, leave me a comment please?

The other thing I'm going to be doing this month, as I work on fixing up those shorts I mentioned, is reading a lot. My goal is a book a day. I'm going to post a bit about each book I read, not every day but a few at a time during my other blog posts. I've already read my first book, though I'm not going to talk too much about it because it was me beta reading for a friend - the lovely Joelle Casteel, who writes erotica/erotic romance with heavy BDSM themes. They are not for the faint of heart. She's going to be working on re-releasing her first book - Out of the Night - soon. Her second book, the one I just finished beta reading, is Gates of the Garden and will be out not too long after.

I've also got a lot of other books on my plate. I've managed to acquire more than 120 e-books from the free list on Amazon and through promotion by other authors (also free e-books from Amazon). Not to mention I was gifted a lovely romance book that I intend on reading as well. I'll be posting short reviews of those and buy links so you can pick them up on your own if you're so inclined.

If there's a topic you're curious about my opinion on, leave me a comment. I'll be glad to answer that too. Just give me some time to get back into the swing of things and we'll see what happens. Thanks to my faithful readers who have stuck with me, and welcome to new readers brought here by Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy what you see and don't forget to grab some cookies and milk on your way through the door. *grin*