Posted in Fantasy, Stories, The Black Bard

Fiction Friday: Power

Everything Floats

Glowing Molten-Blue Magic

Reven Si’ahl sat with arms and legs dangling over the flotsam that sufficed as a bridge between two anchored ships. He groaned with nausea, his stomach churning as the bridge, the ships, the entire city, in fact, swayed back and forth with the ocean tides. He clung to the ropes, toes bobbing in and out of the cool water. Everything in the city of Avir floated. That’s why it was called The Floating City of Avir as Liam had so eloquently pointed out. Reven didn’t care what the stupid place was called, he wanted it to stop moving.

The city itself was comprised of hundreds of ships all anchored near the tiniest island ever recorded. It was a single mountain fortress, the ships and barges all spreading out like tentacles from the head of an octopus. They put out bridges like the one Reven sat on or plank boards to walk from ship to ship. Business was conducted over a cask of ale on floating pallets that were considered ‘neutral ground’. Liam Roe, a duende thief-taker, sat among a group of unique individuals during such a session, periodically glancing over at Reven. The tirsai olven man did not feel the need to return eye contact, head hanging over the rough ropes so that he did not have to move when his stomach heaved of its own volition.

Into the Caves

Reven learned after that moment of indiscretion to never let Liam discuss business outside of his presence again when it could be helped. Sometimes it couldn’t, but that day in particular, his opinion might have changed their path. As it was, Reven walked through ankle-deep muck in insect-infested marshes at the head of their three-person line into the heart of Yama towards the border of Pulani. Liam followed, with Reven’s own personal salvation, Ajana Dai – a half-olven woman of cantari descent, her skin as copper as any coin and her voice sweet as honey – bringing up the rear.

“Is this why you said to not wear shoes?” Reven asked, his toes squishing in the muck as they walked.

“Quiet,” Liam hissed. “Keep goin’.”

“Towards what?” Reven asked, stopping to look at the duende thief-taker. They did not get on, not really.

“Liam, perhaps I should lead,” Ajana offered, maintaining peace between the men. Liam scowled. “Reven does not know what to look for.”

“Yeah,” Liam scoffed. “Reven don’t know nothin’ do, he? S’what happens when ya bring in strays. Keep goin’. You’ll know it when ya see it.”

Reven only rolled his eyes and continued on, his steps slowing when he saw ‘it’. A gaping maw of a cave came out of the blight all around him, the marshes creating a blanket of hot steam that hid anything further than a few inches from his face. The cave loomed up out of nowhere with jagged stalagmites giving it a skull-like appearance. Reven shrank into the muck. He did not remember a life prior to Ajana and, if this was what was in store for his future, he didn’t want to remember that either.

“What’d ya stop for?” Liam hissed again, shoving Reven at the center of his back. That was strike one.

Power Unleashed

The inside of the cave was no better than the outside. Narrow passages made movement difficult and the muck that sucked at Reven’s toes outside was even worse inside. Several passages were flooded, forcing the small crew to wade through waist-high water full of bugs and floating bits of things that made Reven’s nose wrinkle. Eventually, Ajana did lead because not only did Reven not know what he was looking for, he was also not a very good navigator, running them into dead-ends at least twice and nearly dropping them into a pit once. The payout, however, was worth the fuss.

“Now ain’t that a pretty bauble,” Liam cooed. He held a gem the size of a raptor egg in his hands. It gleamed in the torch light, an opalescent green that sent rainbow sparkles across the walls of the cave. Reven watched the sparkles, mesmerized by the patterns they made.

“Oi,” Liam crowed, shoving Reven in the back again. Strike two. “Satchel.”

Reven frowned but pulled the satchel he carried around so that the gem could be placed inside. He’d been reduced to a moderately intelligent pack mule. How glorious.  He could see another statement forming in the duende thief-taker’s face, a statement Reven was not likely to appreciate, when the entire cave rumbled, throwing them off balance.

“Are caves supposed to do that?” Reven asked from a rather awkward position bent at the waist with arms spread wide for balance. The others were no better, arms out or legs spread to keep them stable.

“Idiot,” Liam grumbled. “C’mon ‘fore somethin’ crawls up an’ starts bitin’.”

Reven did not argue, turning to leave the way they came. He was caught up by Liam grabbing his arm and tugging sharply on the strap of the satchel. Strike three.

Something inside of the tirsai man exploded. Rage, perhaps, or great annoyance, but it showed itself in a concussive blast that radiated outward from Reven, throwing the thief-taker clear across to the other side of the cave. The ground beneath his feet trembled, rocks bouncing as he turned a fierce, white-hot glare on Liam Roe.

“Don’t,” Reven barked. Heat filled his veins, burned through the whole of him and seared his core with supernatural Power. The realization made every ounce of it rush out of him like water from an overturned bucket, nearly dropping him to his knees. He could cast.

Secrets

The journey back to Avir was entirely silent. Not a single word was spoken or thought uttered. Reven let the other two conduct business, trading the gem for the agreed upon amount and simply prayed that nothing was said about what happened. He knew what the world thought of casters, he’d seen it already in Pulani where Ajana found him and heard the talk of it among the sailors and thief-takers on Avir. Casters were wicked; mortals that dared to steal the Power of the gods for themselves and punished for their crime accordingly.

Despite knowing he could easily handle anything that came his way – hopefully – Reven still flinched when a shadow loomed overhead. He glanced up slowly as if expecting a lynch mob or, at the very least, to be struck for his stupidity. How dare he show his Power; how dare he take what was not his. Instead, Liam stared down with impatience growing on his tanned features.

“Gonna sit there all day or what?” the thief-taker drawled. “We don’t get paid by sittin’ ‘round, ya crow.”

Reven’s first reaction was to argue, to question, to wonder. He opened his mouth to say so, then looked at Ajana, smiling kindly at him and quickly shut his mouth. He could learn and he would take his secrets – what few he had – to the grave.

Posted in Chelle

What’s Next?

nowwhat1So, I’ve published a book (HOORAY!). Now what?

I could twiddle my thumbs a little. Work on a few of my other three hundred different hobbies, or find a nice semi-gloss paint for my office cuz this puke yellow that it currently is does nothing for my creativity. I could also Netflix and chill for a bit cuz, dammit, I deserve a good binge watching after all the work I’ve put in.

But, that is not how the life of an author goes. The creativity doesn’t stop just because one project has been completed. The compulsion to write continues. In pure cHaOtIc fashion, I now simultaneously write three different projects while binge watching all the shows I have on my list of things to watch, taking breaks to do my part time paying job, and looking over two projects from someone else entirely who has asked for my help in getting their books published.

What does that look like in a normal view?

  • Project 1 is for CampNaNoWriMo. It is my fantasy novel, now 20 years (yes, 20, sue me) in the works through various changes, iterations (including 4 D&D campaigns, several stories and 3 failed attempts at this dang novel), and heartaches. The plan is to have Ashes to Embers (working title) ready for publication by December (if not sooner) of this year.
  • Project 2 is for Corrugated Sky’s 2018 anthology. This year, the theme is Zombies. Naturally, I had this grand idea for something kinda quirky, kinda fun, kinda scary-weird… that I absolutely hate as of… literally7a or so yesterday morning. For real. I was on the treadmill when I went ‘Gods, really?? Why am I writing this crap??”. *sigh* Version 2.0 now in the works, draft 1 is due April 30. HA!! Might need an extension on that one.
  • Project 3 is the thing that (hopefully) everyone really wants: the follow up novel for HellfireRight now, the working title is Hellfire: Time Paradox (yeah, probably not the most creative but that’s why it’s a working title) that will pick up 1 year after the end of Hellfire. If all the stars align, the planned release for #2 will be this July or August.
  • Part time job is marketing for the local community restaurant. It’s fun and I love the staff and it is right up my alley of things I know how to do. Plus, I can do it from home and get free fries. Bonus.
  • Other – I’ve had a few people ask how I did all the things I did for Hellfire. My answer is usually “with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, booze, and selective cursing at my screen”. In layman’s terms, it means I just spent a lot of time doing the formatting before handing it off to a friend to do the digital formatting cuz InDesign hates me. BUT I’ve also had these same people ask if I’d be willing to help them with their formatting and edits and such. And, while I’m not entirely 100% sure I’m qualified for any of that, I’m at least willing to take a look for a friend cuz that’s what friends do.

Obviously, the big ones are the writing projects that are all in progress. See, the ‘work’ for a writer never stops. It continues at all hours of the day or night, even in our sleep. You don’t make it as a ‘big time’ author by stopping after your first success. You don’t even make it as a mediocre author by stopping at your first success.

I’ve published. It’s out there for the world to see (you should go read it). Now I write the next one. And after that, I will write the next, and the next, until my fingers cease functioning and my voice is but a rasping whisper. Because I am a writer and that is what I do. This is how I live my dream.

Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

April CampNaNoWrimo 2018

Camp-2018-Writer-Facebook-Cover-1

April approaches. Can y’all even believe it?? I can’t!

As cHaOs continues to revolve in massive poop storms around my real life existence, my author/publisher life… erm… also revolves around a few massive poop storms. Looks like they’re finally meshing together! Growth.

However, in all seriousness, the final steps for the release of Hellfire are underway. There is a second novel being released by Corrugated Sky Publishing (for which I am co-owner) at the same time that I have been assisting with as well, and a new anthology planned for the end of the summer based around zombies that also requires a good deal of my attention.

We add to this a new position as marketing manager of a local restaurant that I’m finally settling comfortably into, a new web design project for my husband’s business, and mothering of 3 children and one recently minted adult-child (yes, the oldest turned 18! He survived!!) which makes for quite a bit of cHaOs roaming around the house; that we are about to purchase; at the end of April; when it’ll be time to do some much needed painting, upgrades, and landscaping.

Naturally this means I must take on yet another project, right? Right?? Of course it does, because that is how we operate here at cHaOs – with too many things to manage at once. It makes for some interesting days, long nights, and unique mixtures of alcohol.

The new project in question is, of course, the April version of CampNaNoWriMo. I’ve done Camp a few times now, not always consecutively. July tends to be a little more crazy at cHaOs than April because the peace of school-aged children tucked away at their institutions of learning is shattered during the summer months. Last Camp I did was the first time I ever finished the set goal. It was sort of a big deal, though I never actually finished the novel in question and, to this day, it remains at about 50% completion before edits. I’ll get to it eventually.

This April, we shall kick of with a holiday combo of Easter (which we don’t really do here except to make the youngest believe that a giant bunny still comes to deliver plastic eggs full of chocolate and coins into our back yard for him to find) and April Fool’s Day (which we also don’t do because I am liable to cut someone for pranking me). There is already a plan in place for achieving word count on the first day and the novel is loosely outlined so I don’t start chasing bizarre rocks down a murky path halfway into day three.

This particular novel is the novel. THE ONE; the one I’ve had in my head and attempted to write many times over for the last twenty years (yes, this book idea is older than my oldest kid). I’d honestly written it off as a loss for, surely, I would never be able to properly wrap my mostly pink wrinkles around the ginormity of this undertaking. I’ve run the campaign (D&D for you non-geeks out there) three different times; written countless stories; written and re-written the novel seven times, easily (probably more) and watched at lest four of those novels burn in digital hell when my electronics have bitten the proverbial dust at the worst possible moment ever. In fact, iteration number one sits on my shelf, printed with a cover, as a reminder of why that didn’t go anywhere. It’s awful, people. Like… cringe with a desire to light it on fire as tribute to the muses, awful. But, as will happen with writers, there I was in the shower singing my fav tunes when BAM it hit like a bolt of lightning to the brain. I very nearly ran downstairs in a towel to write it all down before it vanished into the ether (I lost the pencil to my AquaNotes *sad panda*). Instead, I dashed through the rest of my shower, dressed, and ran down with towel still on head to scribble into the Giant Notebook of Ashes (shortened name for the book). Twenty-two chapters later (the last four may need to be redone, we’ll see), the book is now outlined with a beginning, middle, and end-for-now (it has always been planned as a series). Hooray! April will be the month for Ashes to spring to life!!

The questions are bouncing in your head, though. I can see them. I feel them reaching out to me, asking: ‘How?’ ‘Are you crazy?’

With everything else happening in my life, it is often the question I get asked the most: how? How do I do this while still managing a home, several miscellaneous jobs (not all of which are paid, I might add), working on so many projects and still find time for sanity and sleep?

It’s a simple answer really: I’m not sane. Not even a little bit.

Beyond that, however, it is a matter of time management. I am not the best at it. Far from it. I’m convinced that underneath the masks of fibro, bi-polar disorder, potential RA and/or MS and whatever else is happening in this busted frame of mine, I am also totally ADHD and just not diagnosed. I bounce from idea to idea, thing to thing until all of the things or ideas are done. Some I abandon, but most will, eventually, get finished. I’ve also learned to focus on one task until it is done which, for me, means that I only do three other things instead of five or six. I have children that are old enough to take over the chores which frees up time.  All of them are now in school so I can find peace in the early morning once they’ve gone away on the bus, as well. I’m not particularly active in community things cuz I’m just kind of a hermit like that, and I’m ok letting the laundry pile up a little in favor of getting just a few more words on the page. I also don’t exercise nearly as much as I should (or at all) but when I do get that wild hair, I take the phone with me to record my thoughts (because, like the shower, the ideas pelt me in the wrinkles at the most inopportune times, including the treadmill).

So, if you’re feeling a little creative but also a little intimidated, give Camp a try. It is not as stringent as regular NaNoWriMo which, I find, to be more in-your-face get-her-done writing (which I totally need by that point and look forward to every year). Goals are more flexible from only writing 30k words (or less if that’s your flavor), to edits only, to the full 50k and beyond. It is whatever you make of it. Don’t let those ideas rot away unused, even if you are the only one that sees those words hit the page. They are still words that need to be written.

And, don’t forget, Hellfire will be available for purchase mid-April. Cannot wait! Can you?

Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

When cHaOs Reigns

agefoto_rm_photo_of_child_waking_in_nightYou thought this was going to be about dreaming, didn’t you? Fooled you! Dreaming requires actual sleep, which I get very little of.

No, these are all the little thoughts that happen right in that blessedly odd moment just before sleep hits; when my body says ‘stop’ and my brain says ‘but wait!’. New ideas crash through the curves and turns of my little pink wrinkles, prolonging my pathetic need for sleep until finally, I simply give up and let nature take its course (which usually means I stare at crap TV until 3am with my Kindle in hand to type out notes when they hit me). There are ‘moments’ of sleep – time that can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours – and then BAM! just like that, I’m awake again with all of those chaotic little thoughts rushing to the surface in the tiny moments right before my eyes pop open (or my alarm goes off, whichever comes first).

Many people cannot recall dreams, let alone thoughts they had the previous night before sleep. I like to think of it as hitting the play button just before I wake. My brain won’t let me drop what I had going. Instead, it immediately jumps to the last thing we thought about. Recently it has been all the projects building up on my desk whether those are self-imposed or handed down by someone else. Everything from zombies to elves to paint choices, taxes, or what kind of font to use on the next flyer I need to put together. FONT! Why do I care about these things at 11p or midnight when I know I need to get to sleep or become one of those zombies running through my head the following morning???

*sigh*

Because cHaOs. It is the only explanation. It reigns supreme not only in my house, but in my mind as well.

So! What does this mean for the things coming down the pipeline? Well, a lot actually, because I have a lot going on in this squishy matter between my ears. Ready?

  • Zombies: The next anthology for Corrugated Sky (to which I regularly submit to) is all zombies, all the time. The dead will rise again and become the UNdead! *gasp* Which, of course, means I get to dig deep into my binge watching sessions of TWD and FTWD to find a suitable plot for this next piece going in for publication. Naturally I have everything from a revamp of Zombie Babies (which I never finished or posted more than a few blips of) to a strange idea about the evolution of a populace after the zombie-apocalypse hits (but that might just be a little too much science for me). This lovely piece of work is due out to the public roughly Fall 2018.
  • Superheroes: Another project percolating right along (now at the editing stage; hooray!) is Hellfire, a novella about a world in which super heroes are real, and they’re not always nice to people. If I can get my little fingers and toes in order with the brain synapses, then I might actually get this done by March. Maybe. It’ll be pushed through my own self-pub services (aka Amazon and Smashwords) so it’s a self-imposed deadline but, all the same, March 2018 would be nice. I’ll keep y’all updated on that.
  •  Dreamworlds: And elves, and shit. Yes, I cursed, I do that. Anyway, this particular project which has no title just yet deals with a DreamWalker and his misadventures. He meets some elf-types, meets some not elf-types, nearly gets eaten and… and I still haven’t written the ending so it is definitely a work-in-progress. However, the aim is to work it up to a novella like Hellfire and release it for queries sometime in late Spring of this year.
  • Aliens: As with all things that explode out of my mind in November, eventually they need refinement. This past NaNo was no different, producing a wild world of weird aliens and lost colonists. In fact, the title of it is Colony and with a bit of fluffing, some editing, and a decent tag line (which I have yet to come up with), this lovely little piece of science fiction should be ready to go by Summer 2018.
  • Ashes to Embers: Yes, this horrendous beast has reared its ugly, gigantic head again. A great deal of my internal struggle recently has been because of this massive undertaking that likes to try to drown me in details and enough characters to fill a cruise liner. However, since the crazy thoughts that attack just before sleep have been about how to fix some of the insanity of this massive project, I’ve been writing them down like a mad woman. Post-its and napkins are, once again, my friends (tissues were, but since I’m still battling this lingering cold, that quickly changed back to napkins). There is still no release date for this since it is a planned trilogy but, suffice to say, it is resurfacing.
  • Steam: While all of the shorter pieces are underway progress continues to be made on Clockwork Gods. We are nearing the end! Hooray for an almost completed draft!! There are also some ideas percolating for a follow up story to Heart of the Matter which was published last year in Corrugated Sky’s steampunk anthology. If all the stars align properly, Clockwork Gods should see our intrepid twins getting more screen time by the end of the year along with the follow up story that has no working title yet because the ideas only just started.
  • Smut: Yes, I write that too. I mentioned as much a few posts back. I write it under a pen name, but I write it nonetheless. It has not left my radar. There are unfinished pieces that still need finishing but I will kick that information over to Noa’s blog if anyone is interested.

There it is, the grand list of all the things. Plus, I am painting the furniture in my office, hand-knitting a blanket for the Tyrant, and working part-time helping a friend with marketing.

cHaOs. All day. All the time. My life.

Ain’t it great!