update

Ill Met by Moonlight: Chapter 3

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

unnamedThe Subjects

[Project Oberon: Day 3, 07h50m] Subjects have shown activity in Broca’s area, suggesting some semblance of speech or communication is being carried out in the dormant state. Whether or not this simultaneous reaction indicates a significant finding as a response to stimuli remains to be seen.

[Project Oberon: Day 3, 0810h] The second trial has been completed. Photos of a sea monster were shown to subjects 315 and 526; subjects 536 and 325 were exposed to a photo of a banshee; subjects 335 and 345 were removed from the trial to provide a baseline measure. Results varied by subject, though again subject 526 showed a delayed return to normal range of vital signs.

Though it is still too early to form any conclusions, discussion currently leans towards a positive outcome of results for the study at hand.

The next trial begins at 1900h.


I don’t bother waiting for Josh as I storm down the lane, no matter how much I hear him wheezing behind me. He asked me to slow down once, but  hasn’t again since it became clear that I wouldn’t. If he wants to follow me, that’s his prerogative, but after the stunt with the lake monster, I’m not about to accommodate him.

I have no idea where I’m going — I just know I need to get away from that cabin and the disturbing lake. The forest looms to my left, the shadows stretching out towards me, and as I follow the curving path, the beach falls farther and farther away until it vanishes from sight.

The moon follows us overhead, never seeming to move, a fixed point in the sky. It’s odd, the way it just sits there. Like it’s watching me. I shiver and wish it was gone, and then just like that, it is. Instead of the moon, a bright sunset has taken over the sky, spilling reds and golds across the fields and lush trees.

The light doesn’t make the forest any more welcoming.

“This is weird,” Josh pants behind me. “Don’t you think it’s weird?”

“It’s a dream. Of course it’s weird. This whole thing is weird. Or did you not get that from both of us being in the same place? However that happened.”

That is the question that has plagued me since I accepted it was true. It’s enough to make me wonder what the scientists are doing out there in their lab. Are they crossing wires? Messing things around so we won’t know who we are when we wake up?

Either they have no idea, which means they might not know the repercussions, or this is on them, which hardly seems ethical. Not for the first time, I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into.

With this thought, I finally let go of some of my anger towards Josh. Sure, he might have tried to sacrifice me to the lake monster to save his own skin, but the fact is we’re in this together. Both of us trapped in our own psyches. It’s an experience not many people get to claim.

So I slow down and allow him to catch up. His duster blows in a non-existent breeze, and I turn in the direction of the wind in time to spot movement coming towards us.

“Get down!” I hiss, and shove Josh into the bushes along the side of the road.

He grunts and starts to protest my manhandling, but I clamp a hand over his mouth and point at the two figures coming up over a slight dip in the path. He ducks farther down, his eyes widening over the edge of my fingers.

For a full minute, we remain silent and still, watching these people approach. At least, I think they’re people. As they get closer, I find myself unsure. The figure on the left is male — tall, broad-shouldered, dark skin, wearing a pair of faded jeans and a grey T-shirt, with a denim vest overtop  — but his eyes are that of a wolf, and his nose is crinkled as he scents the air. Something that looks like a machine gun is slung over his shoulder.

The woman beside him is moving with a lithe, cat-like stride. Her long black hair reaches her waist, and her dark skin catches the bizarre sunset in a way that makes it look like she’s glowing from within. Her eyes are a piercing green, and she wears a sword strapped at her hip over a pair of beige corduroy pants and a long green T-shirt.

I raise my hands in front of me and test the powers that have twice presented themselves in my time of need, using my mind to move the trees around us to create a screen.

“Josh, I’d arm up if I were you.”

His mouth falls open. “Are you serious? I can’t do that.” He gestures vaguely at the trees that have folded around us.

I try not to roll my eyes. “You’re in a dream. Come up with something.”

He blinks a few times, wrapping his head around what I’m saying. Then he squeezes his eyes shut, his entire face contorted with concentration. He reaches towards the ground, and when he pulls his arm back, he’s wielding a wooden hammer the size of his head. I raise an eyebrow, impressed, and he shrugs.

At least now I feel more confident finding out who these new people are, though I have my guesses.

Keeping my hands raised, I step onto the path. Immediately, both people on the road draw their weapons. They exchange a glance and adjust their stances, as though not sure how to react.

“Who are you?” the man asks. Seeing them up close, I place both of them in their mid-twenties, though it’s hard to tell with their eyes the way they are.

“My name is Regan,” I say, opting to skip over the second round of confusion. “This is Josh. We’re part of a dream study, and I’m going to take a wild stab that you two are, as well.”

The two exchange another glance, and the woman nods. “I’m Mary-Ann, and this is my brother, Mark. We’re twins, so we figured we found each other because of that. But if you’re here…”

I understand their expressions. Everything seems to be making less sense as it goes.

“I’m not sure where you’re headed,” I say, “but I’d steer clear of this road. It goes to the lake, and thar be monsters.”

Mary-Ann frowns.

“Then I guess we’re between a rock and a hard place,” says Mark. “We just fought off a Banshee in an old warehouse. I don’t think she’s coming back, but there could be more.”

Josh groans. “So I guess that leaves…”

The four of us turn to face the field stretching away from the forest, and we make out the wide arena of a baseball diamond. On the other side of it, two more figures approach.

“I would guess they make five and six,” I say, but just in case, we keep our weapons ready.

Two women come into view as they cross the field. One of them is shorter, with bright blue hair, and dressed in leather pants and a black T-shirt covered in skulls. A series of knives line the belt at her hip. The other woman is tall and willowy, with long silver hair and a kind of paleness that hints at illness or a complete loathing of the outdoors. She’s the only one dressed in what appears to be normal clothes: a white sundress that almost fades into her skin. She looks as though all the colour has been leached out of her.

“Are you the rest of them?” Blue Hair asks.

I’m relieved that we don’t need to go through the whole conversation again as I confirm that we are. Blue Hair introduces herself as Clare, and Colourless as Andrea.

“Any reason we find you standing in the middle of a baseball diamond?” Clare asks. “Planning a bit of in-dream sports?”

“Thinking about it,” Mary-Ann says. “Thought we’d invite the banshee and the lake monster to join in. You have any partners you’d like to sign up?”

Andrea turns paler – if that’s even possible – and Clare frowns. “I can’t even pretend to know what you’re talking about.”

“What about the rats?” I ask.

I worry Andrea’s about to be sick, and this time even Clare reacts, her throat bobbing with a hard swallow. “Yeah, those we’re familiar with. Suckers came out of nowhere. A whole whack of them darting in like flies.”

Andrea shakes her head. “It was the size of my hand and ran right up my leg.” Her voice is soft, barely above a whisper. “I felt it in my hair.”

She runs her hand over her head and tears fill her eyes.

It strikes me as odd that we’ve all seen the same thing, but interpreted it in such different ways. Add in the lake monster that two of us saw and two didn’t, and the banshee that had revealed itself to only two others.

“They’re playing with us,” I say. “Whatever the scientists out there are doing, they’re dropping these images into our heads and seeing what our brains make of them. That’s why the rats were all different.”

“But what about now?” Mark asks. “We’re all here, seeing the same thing.”

“Are we?” I wonder. “Or are we all seeing the same scene in slightly different ways?” I wish there was a way to test it, but for now the baseball diamond is empty. Probably for the best. I don’t want another run-in with the lake monster. Speaking of which… I look to Clare and Andrea. “So there were no monsters the way you came?”

Andrea shook her head. “I was in the old school when Clare found me. I didn’t want to leave, but she wanted to see what else we might find.” She dropped her chin. “And I didn’t want to wait there alone.”

“If we know that way is clear, we should head in that direction,” Josh says.

“And do what?” Clare asks. “Go back to the school and pick our noses, waiting for something to happen?”

“I doubt we’ll have the chance to get bored,” says Mary-Ann. “Not if these scientists want to get a reaction out of us.”

“And if that’s the case, I think we should stick together,” I say. “I doubt banshees and rats are the worst things we’ll see around here, so it might not be a bad idea to have each other’s backs.”

Mary-Ann’s eyes widen, and her gaze tracks something over my head. A shadow passes in front of the setting sun, dousing the baseball diamond in darkness.

“Funny you should mention it,” she says.

I don’t want to turn around and see what’s coming for us now. If I’d known that signing up for this study would mean walking into a two-week nightmare, I doubt I would have signed up.

If I ignore it, maybe it will go away. I repeat the thought to myself even as Mark and Mary-Ann take a few steps backwards. Clare turns to look and jumps away, but appears otherwise unfazed, while Andrea’s lips wobble and I brace for her to faint. Josh glances over his shoulder, then grabs my arm. I feel nothing where he touches me, and the experience is so bizarre that I’m tempted to shove him away.

Unable to remain in denial, I finally turn around to get a look at what everyone else has seen.

Looming in the sky is a black shape. At first, I can’t make it out. It’s a blob. A smear in the clouds. But the longer I stare at it, the more it takes form: a wide, gaping mouth opening wide, red eyes glaring down at me, staring right into my soul. Long arms stretch out from either side of it and reach towards us.

Josh tugs on my arm – a gesture I see instead of feel – his eyes are wild, and his feet are already moving towards the road. There’s a panic in his eyes that spreads to Andrea, and my own heartbeat responds with the need to flee.

The shadow hands try to grab me, and although I know this is only a dream, and that it would be wiser to face it and fight, all I can think is that Josh has the right of it when he gives me a final tug on the arm and shouts, “RUN!”

Does Regan run or fight the shadow monster?

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Why?

Continuing on a bit from my post last week, I wanted to touch a little bit on motivation. I’m currently reading Charles Duhigg’s Smarter, Faster, Betterso I’m sure I’ll be writing some posts based on what I’m learning from him over the next couple of weeks.

A common response when I tell people “Yes, you can” is “But how?” They can start working on something easily enough, but after a few weeks, days, hours, they lose interest or can’t find the oomph to keep going.

This is absolutely normal. I am currently working on my thirteenth novel, and I think I can safely say that with every single project I’ve worked on, I’ve hit the point of wanting to walk away from it. Not even give up, but just a “I’m not really in the mood today” or “I’ve already done so much this week, I think I’ll just take a break and come back to it later.”

And I have had it happen that later turns into two days, then turns into a week, and then turns into months, after I’ve completely forgotten I was even working on something until I open up a related file and it comes up on that sidebar of recent documents and I’m like “Ohhh yeaaah. Welp, I don’t even remember where I was going with that anymore.” So I trunk it and it fades into the distant memory of my past.

It’s normal.

But it’s also something you can prevent with a bit of self-compassion and discipline.

This is not a post against taking breaks. They are important and necessary, because artistic burnout can absolutely happen.

This is a post encouraging you to make sure you come back to it. This is often harder than getting started. At the beginning you’re all charged up by the idea of making A THING. But as you go, you realise THE THING is not turning out the way you saw it in your mind. It’s more work and taking more time than expected, and you’d rather be doing X. So you break, and finding the motivation to come back is hard.

The next time this happens, I challenge you to ask yourself WHY you started in the first place. What was it about the idea that sparked your excitement? Was it the idea of finishing something you’ve been thinking about for a while? The pride of hitting the last stroke and declaring The end? Was it this particular story you wanted to share with the world for the sake of a friend or because you felt the world needed a new interpretation on a classic tale?

Whatever the WHY, write it out and post it somewhere you can see it whenever you sit down to work. Keep it in your mind so whenever your motivation starts to flag, you can grab on to  your purpose again and plug through, even if it’s just one little section at a time.

Remember: motivation and self-discipline are skills that can be developed. It’s just about finding tricks to build up those muscles.

The doing is not always fun (you think I enjoy writing every single day? Ha! Yesterday, I played a game of picross for every three hundred words I wrote just to keep myself going), but that moment you hit your goal and reach your WHY — that’s the part that makes up for all the taxing work and off-days.

So go on, ask yourself WHY, and if you feel like it, share below the reasons that keep you going.

Ill Met by Moonlight: Chapter 1

unnamedThe Project

[Study 16487-D, referred to from this point as Project Oberon. Day 1, 0800h] Six subjects arrived on schedule. Subjects seven through ten have made no communication subsequent to the initial orientation — decision: the study will proceed with a total of six subjects. Following discussion, the majority (8-4) has agreed that six is sufficient to gain the data the study aims to collect over the course of the next two weeks. Testing for conditions and to eliminate incompatible subjects will commence at 0900h.

[Project Oberon, Day 2 , 1400h] Testing has been completed and subjects have been tagged as follows:

315: female, 24, 5’6, 145lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

526: male, 22, 5’8, 237lbs, previous history of asthma but no current symptoms — decision: no concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

536: male, 25, 6’3, 205lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

325: female, 27, 5’8, 125lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests showed slight anemia — decision: clear

335: female, 24, 5’3, 130lbs, hospitalization for pneumonia 4x in last twenty years — decision: no concerns, stress tests normal, blood tests clear

345: female, 23, 5’7, 105lbs, no known health concerns, stress tests showed increased blood pressure and heart rate — decision: no immediate concern; will monitor status and remove subject if required, blood tests clear

[1500h] Subjects have read and signed all documentation. Informed consent has been granted. All have agreed to the conditions and have given full permission to the study heads to perform the following:

  1. Induce a coma using an injection of propofol
  2. Alter the condition of their physical surroundings to monitor any effect said changes have on their physical/physiological status with an aim to determine whether dreams can be manipulated by external conditions

Subjects have also sworn to maintain confidentiality at the end of the two weeks, per the confidentiality agreement, or risk legal repercussions.

For the part of the researchers, our responsibilities are:

  1. To ensure the safety and well-being of our subjects at all times
  2. To end the study at any sign of serious effects on the well-being of our subjects
  3. To remain within the ethical mandate of our study and only apply the changes of condition necessary for obtaining the data required

[Project Oberon, Day 3, 0900h] Subjects have been assigned beds 13 through 19. Subjects have again been briefed on what the study will entail and what they might expect once the propofol takes effect.

[1100h] Propofol has been administered. Subjects’ conditions are stable, and testing can begin.


I open my eyes at the shout of crows somewhere overhead. A breeze drifts over my skin. I expect to shiver, but don’t feel the cold.

It takes me a minute — maybe longer than it should — to realize I don’t know where I am, and another few moments to realize that if I want to figure it out, I need to sit up and look.

My body feels strange. Kind of light and distant, like I’m not really here, so I move slowly. I start by digging my fingers into the ground beneath me and am confused when they sink into the surface. Dirt? I rub my fingertips together to confirm it.

So I’m outside. That’s a start.

I run my hand over the ground and recognize the familiar sensation of grass on my palm, tickly and light. It still feels strange, but gradually I think I’m coming into myself.

Carefully, I sit up and have to blink into the darkness surrounding me. The bright moon highlights the tops of the trees ten feet ahead and the water twenty feet to my left. I seem to be standing on the edge of a beach, where the grass gives way to a fine sand. Reflections of the light on the water cast rippling shadows across the beach and over my hands when I hold them out in front of me. I’m still not certain of where I am. Or even who I am.

My name is Regan, that much I remember, but if someone asked for my birthday or the names of my parents, I don’t know if I could tell them. It’s there. I feel the information in the back of my mind like a distant memory, but when I reach out for it, it vanishes. But maybe that’s okay. For now, I’m all right with just being Regan.

I look down at myself and my confusion increases. These aren’t my clothes. The Regan I know myself to be would never wear these clunky army boots or cargo pants. The black T-shirt is familiar enough, but it hugs my body in a way I wouldn’t be comfortable with if I were walking down the street.

A niggling sense of explanation tickles the back of my mind, but disappears before I can latch on to it.

For now, I let it go and turn my attention to the rest of my surroundings. The water appears to be a clear, calm lake, without even the ripples of fish making their lazy way under the surface. It’s eerie. Lifeless. A shiver runs down my spine, and I’m relieved to feel a natural response from my body. This sense that I’m wrapped in gauze refuses to go away.

I turn to look at the woods. Despite the cries of the crows, the trees are as still as the water, untouched by the breeze or anything living within.

I don’t like it here. My stomach clenches as I take another pass and realize there’s nowhere to go. A boat sits at the end of the dock stretching over that still, seemingly empty water, and I spot a cabin at the end of the path, its windows dark and unwelcoming. But there’s no car, no signs, nowhere that tells me how to get home.

I rub my arms, expecting goosebumps, but there are none.

At the height of the silence, I jump at the sound of a high-pitched squeak behind me. I whirl back towards the woods and for a moment there’s nothing. It’s only when the bushes to my left rattle that I make out what’s there.

The taste of blood fills my mouth as my heartbeat races, and I raise my fists, though I don’t know what that’s supposed to achieve.

In front of me, creeping out of the bushes, is what looks like the result of a bear romancing a rat. The size of a cub, its fur is matted and thick, its pointed nose twitching as it scents the air.  Red eyes glare at me, and in them is nothing but malice and hunger. I back away, but it follows. My lungs can’t seem to suck in enough air, and I wish beyond anything that I was somewhere else. That someone would appear and help me. But I’m lost and I’m alone.

The rat starts to run, but I’m already on the edge of the water. I back my left foot into the lake, and although I can feel the water lapping against my ankle, there’s no cold, no wetness.

The beach is empty of weapons. Not even a branch I can grab to fend this monster off. It’s grinning at me now, its sharp teeth catching the glow of the moon. A sharp hiss emanates from its throat.

It lunges.

I raise my hands and squeeze my eyes shut. I imagine the rat flying away from me, into the trees.

There’s a loud shriek and the sound of branches being broken.

I open my eyes and stare across the empty beach. The rat is gone, and in the distance I hear it scurrying away through the woods.

What just happened? I stare down at my hands, but they’re just my hands.

The truth hits me like the weight of that rat against the trees. The dream study. This world, this night, that rat, me, none of it is real.

Was this what was supposed to happen? I’d been told that I would be put into a medically induced coma, and that the doctors would attempt to manipulate my dreams. But although I feel strange, my consciousness is far more aware than it is in even my most lucid dreams.

I stare at my hands again. Had I really made that rat fly into the forest?

My lips curl into a smile as I walk up the beach. Cool.

But if this is my home for the next two weeks, I might as well get comfortable.

Once again, I turn my attention to the world around me and start off to explore.

Continue to Chapter 2

Coming Up

November is already shaping up to be a busy month. First, I’ve got the first half of the Invisible Entente finale edits coming in, so I’ll be focused on getting that cleaned up and on its way to go to beta readers in December; then, I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year, aiming to complete the first draft of the new Andvell book by the end of the month. I’ve also begun another project, advocating for Canadian indie authors. I’ll be keeping those updates separate from my writing blog, but if you’re interested, you can check out Northern Words and follow for updates.

But the big news:

For a while now I’ve felt that it was time to get this blog going again from a writing standpoint. It’s been years since Greylands, and I’ve missed the real-time interaction with readers as we worked through that serial.

As a result, starting next week, I’m kicking off another blog-hosted story. This one won’t be a compilation of authors, but it will be a joint venture between you, the reader, and myself.

May I present: Ill Met by Moonlight, a choose-your own adventure series about a dream study called Project Oberon. Six subjects are put into a medically induced coma to test whether dreams can be manipulated and tracked by external conditions. The story follows Subject 315, Regan, as she navigates her way through the dream world, and you, dear reader, will help me point her in the direction you wish her to go.

How will it work?

On the first Monday of every month, I’ll post the next chapter. At the end of the chapter, I’ll post two options for you to choose from. If you’re signed up for my mailing list, you’ll receive the link to cast your vote for which option Regan chooses. The poll will be open for two weeks, which will give me enough time to write the next installment.

The first chapter is written and ready to go, and you’ll find it here next Monday. See you then!

 

NEW RELEASE: Light of the Stygian Orb

orb_promo

As an archer who is deafblind, sixteen-year-old Molly Harris has always lived an exceptional life, but since rescuing the angel-demon hybrid Zachariel and being introduced to the otherworld, she’s craved a different kind of extraordinary. On her mission for answers, however, Molly realizes the road to the truth is more treacherous than she expected.

Zachariel is a freak of nature who has never fit in anywhere, and he’s grown comfortable with his solitary existence. Now, not only does he have a nosy teenager invading his personal space, he’s also dealing with a shady demon who wants to recruit him for a secret project — and who won’t take no for an answer.

As Zach delves into the demon’s scheme, he discovers he’s an unwilling pawn in a life-or-death game. Zach and Molly may be an unlikely team, but it rests on them to hold back the threat that could shake the foundations of the world.

Light of the Stygian Orb is the last book in The Invisible Entente series before the finale, which will be available winter 2018.

What readers are saying:

“I’ve known Krista Walsh as a fantastic Fantasy writer; now she has proven that she has the same exceptional talent in the Paranormal Mystery genre as well.”

“This a 5 star read all the way.”

“Krista weaved an amazing story of Zack and Molly which kept the pages turning”

“This is a really good supernatural fantasy story. The characters are complex and the description is fantastic – the images Walsh creates of Zach’s grappling with the effects of his demon and angel blood are both beautiful and impressive. There’s also a good touch of humour, something Walsh always does without making the whole book seem silly, and there are one or two really spooky moments as well. I’ve read the rest of the series, and I think this is my favourite.”

Grab your copy online by clicking this link or come see me in person at Chapter Gloucester on November 4, 2017 from noon until four to get your signed copy and swag!

Click here to read the first chapter

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Day 7

I met to post a weekly report yesterday, but got wrapped up in family things…and then my brain decided it didn’t want to work anymore, curled up into a corner, and spent the afternoon snoring while I tried to get some reading done. Thanks, Daylight Saving Time.

So I’ll include a bit of a week 1 update now as I dive into the start of week 2:

I hit 25k, which puts me halfway through the NaNo goal and a little over a third of the way through my first draft goal of 60k (although I suspect it’ll be a little more like 70 or 75 at this rate)

The daily afternoon scene prep to get me ready for the next day’s writing has been incredibly helpful, and it’s probably a system I’ll stick with going forward. I found this past weekend, because of all the family stuff, I had a hard time connecting with the story. I was constantly watching the clock, but also wanting to get my words in for the day. If I hadn’t had my scene descriptions guiding me forward, I likely would have written all sorts of digressions or mindless babble just to fill the space. With the heavy lifting already done, I just had to turn it into words.

So if you’re struggling, consider that one of my suggestions.

As I get into today’s work, I’m still winding down from the weekend, so I might try a bit of meditation to clear out the clutter in my head.

How are you progressing? What tricks are you using to stay focused? What do you think of your novel so far? Share in the comments!

 

Do What You Love?

As I reach the mid-way point in my 12-month “Full-Time Author Test”, I thought I’d share some of my experiences and perspectives on the mission of “following my dreams”.

When I first stepped into the FT arena, I had a plan. I weighed out all the pros and cons, talked through every element that I should watch out for: money, isolation, mental health, etc. I waited until I was sure I had a solid foundation before I took the leap.

At the end of January, my plans fell through. There were delays in my latest book release, and that delay led to a drop in sales, and a delay in the release of my next book. Those delays and sales drops meant a hit to my finances, and in May, I was sure I’d have to cut my 12-month trial off early to go back to work.

Fortunately, my support team is the best I could have asked for. My fiance and I sat down and rearranged our budget to make sure I could take another six months without any more of a hit. We’re currently working on some really fun promo material for my next series to try to get some new eyes on it. We’re talking about beginning a new project – a podcast about two artists living together, following different streams of our craft, and the ups and downs of it all.

Even when the pitfalls loom, I’m so grateful I have people who will help me stay on a solid foundation.

I knew before I went to full-time that money would be tight. I chose to skip Ottawa Comic Con this year so I could afford the GORGEOUS covers for my new series (the cover reveal is coming July 1 to my newsletter subscribers!). My social life is in a bit of a lull, because I don’t have the easy-access cash to go out very often. Every coffee I buy is a debate of whether I should get out of the house for a while and spend the $1.89 on a Tim’s cappucino, or if I should stay home and make one for free.

And money isn’t the only challenge.

One of the most common questions I’m asked when I tell people I write full time is whether I have issue getting to work in the morning and if I get distracted by everything going on at home.

My problem actually lies on the reverse side, as my fiance can tell you. I’m a bit of a workaholic. I begin my day when he leaves for his dayjob at 6:30a.m., and there are many times I’ll continue working until dinner 12 hours later. In my case, my self-discipline has grown in knowing when to walk away at the end of the day. To leave my work in my office as best I can and appreciate the rest of the day outside of my books.

The work-life balance is harder to handle when they’re one and the same (as they’ve always been, because an artist can never really get out of her own head), so I practice this by going out for long walks most days of the week.

There have been days where it’s taken all of my energy to sit down at the computer and get to work because I feel I’m not making any progress in my business. FAILURE is a terrifying word, and even though my rational brain knows that there’s no such thing – because even if the details don’t go according to plan, I’m still going to be ahead of where I was at the beginning of the year with so much more experience under my belt – it’s still a prospect that makes taking the next big step scary. Being your own boss, trying to make a go of it in the arts in a city where the arts have a hard time taking hold, means a lot of uncertainty.

I’m not saying this to whine or seek sympathy – again, I KNEW this would be the case. I’m sharing it for those of you who are on the fence to make the same leap and take risks with your dreams.

It’s a big choice. It’s a scary choice. If I were on my own and didn’t have the support of my family, I don’t know how well I would be holding up.

On the other hand, I can say, without any doubt, that I have no regrets about making my choice. For the last six months, while I’ve still had to wake up to my fiance’s alarm, I have never dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. My to-do list is always full of tasks I look forward to tackling.

I may cry, I may stuff my face with cookies, I may even bury myself in books for hours in the evenings, but every day I get to wake up and do what I love – do what I’ve always dreamed of doing with my life – and the reward for that is priceless.

So should you take the risk and jump into your dreams with both feet? That’s up to you. Be sure you’re ready for it and you know what’s coming. But once you’re really really certain – take a good look at what’s holding you back.

Life is crazy, loud, and full of uncertainty anyway – why not lose yourself in something that makes you look forward to greeting each  day?

 

What’s next?

What is the title of your work in progress?

The Invisible Entente series

Book 1 – The Invisible Entente, a prequel novella

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to come up with some new content for my newsletter subscribers. I enjoy sending free short stories for my loyal readers. So I tried to come up with a new, exciting idea.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie novels and over the winter, BBC’s Poirot mysteries were my go-to to pass the cold, dark evenings. The more I watched and read and studied Christie’s style, the more I realized I wanted to stake a stab at writing a cozy mystery. Who doesn’t love the round-up at the end where the spunky detective accuses everyone in turn, building up the suspense until she denounces the real murderer?

But I’m a fantasy author, and I didn’t want to step too far outside my genre, so I brainstormed ways to merge the two – and the IE prequel was born.

Currently, this novella is available for free for my newsletter subscribers, but in another month, it will be removed from the subscription bundle and will be available to purchase via my usual ebook/paperback distributors.

From there, as it seems to happen, an entire series revealed itself. Each of the characters introduced in this round-table mystery is getting his or her own fantasy/mystery novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy with a cozy mystery twist

What is a one sentence synopsis for your book?

Prequel: Following the death of a mad scientist warlock, seven murder suspects are transported into a magically sealed room and only six can leave.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published – and I couldn’t be more excited about it. My team behind this series is strong, and the results will show it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The prequel took me a couple of weeks, but each novel takes me about a month. The rest of the work comes during edits and early outlining.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the elements I’m most excited to play with in this series is taking familiar creatures/characters from mythology and twisting them into new forms. Among others are a descendant of Vidar, the Norse god of vengeance and silence; a Gorgon-fae, the descendant of Medusa; and a sorceress from the line of Morgan le Fay.

Each character has a unique voice, and a unique perspective on the humanity they both live in and apart from. Each story touches on a different aspect of “otherness” and what it means to stand on the outside looking in.

I’ve got some really fun ideas for promo and can’t wait to get started.

Expected kick-off date: August 2016

 

The Year Plods Onward – March in Sum

Before we get too far into April, I guess I should take a look back at March.

First off: HOW IS ALREADY APRIL?! (I have a feeling this will be a frequent message for the blog posts)

Second: It’s April, dammit, WARM UP!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. March.

Goal: exercise 20 mins a day (10 hours/month)

This one I seem to have knocked out of the park this month at 19h30 for the month. Most of this is walking now that I don’t need to worry (or at least, worry less) about falling and hurting myself. I should be using my standing desk more than I am during the day, though, so I’ll try to work on that.

(Psst. The more people who buy my books, the closer I am to getting the perfect sit-stand desk that will allow me to write even MORE while staying healthy. Win-win!) 

Goal: read for pleasure 30 mins a day

While the goal to get my exercise in as been great and super helpful, I think tracking what I’m reading and having reading being on my to-do check list each day has made a huge difference. I went from reading fewer than 10 books last year to (I think) having already reached that so far this year.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chodron is a book my dad got me. He offers courses in mindfulness and meditation, and is always trying to get me to slow down. (DOES HE NOT KNOW WHO I AM?! But really, he’s right). This book was an amazing read. Very quick, and one that I’ll likely pick up again going forward when I need a pick-me-up. Among other wisdom, I picked up two wonderful mottoes that I now have written up on my bulletin board.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

It’s right up there with “My father used to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast” from Alice in Wonderland (movie), but I find the statement stirring. At any point in the day, you can make a decision that could change your life. Even if you’re not aware of anything changing or moving, something in the background could be falling into place the launches you forward to get you where you want to be.

The other:

FAILURE IS AN OPPORTUNITY

It gives a whole new spin on something not working out the way you wanted it. You COULD see it as an ending, or see it as a new foundation to build your next step. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me with a lot of plans going awry, so this was a lesson I needed to read.

Other books I read:

The Secret Country by Pamela Dean. This one was recommended to me by a friend. She said it reminded her of the premise of my Meratis Trilogy is she was very right! It’s the story of five cousins who create a game over the summer…and then find themselves living in. But things aren’t quite as they imagined. I had some trouble getting into the language of the game (very classical fantasy) and the characters were distant but the story kept me engaged and I’ll be continuing on with the series.

And Then There Were None and 13 to Dinner (or Lord Edgware Dies) by Agatha Christie. That’s right – I went back to Christie, as I said I would. I first read And Then There Were None in high school, and the re-read lived up to my memory.

The Martian by Andy Weir. I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I’d heard all the hype about the novel and the film, but doubted I would be interested. I’m a fantasy girl, not a sci-fi reader! But it hooked me. I stayed up into the wee smas to finish it off and  loved every page.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Decoded by David Day. This book was everything I wanted it to be. It looked at Alice from satirical, theosophical and mathematical levels and broke down the symbolism of every character and every speech. Did you know the shape of the rabbit hole Alice falls down matches the pattern of a Fibonacci sequence? And the feud between Carroll and Alice’s father, the Dean of Christ Church, was rampant all through the text.  A fascinating read and I recommend it for any history buffs who like digging deeper into the text.

Goal: read 1 craft book/month

Achieved! I read Susan Kaye Quinn’s The Indie Author Survival Guide and wondered how I hadn’t read it years ago. Concise, casual, and full of information on all the basics, as well as tips on marketing and production, which I hope to put into effect.

Goal: 2 social events/month

I squeezed this one in at the last minute, but I achieved it! First was my niece’s third birthday party, which was wonderful fun; then I had an impromptu breakfast with a friend I haven’t seen in far too long; and finally, two other friends and I went out to the opening of a tea room nearby. The Vanitea Room is a cute little place with pretty great food and reasonably priced tea service. The wait times ran on the long side, but it was packed because of the opening, so I would go back and give them another try.

What else have I been up to?

Editing. March was a full month of editing. Remember in my last post when I talked about learning through errors? Well March was a month of dealing with the consequences. The delay in Bladelore edits led to a rushed first draft of Death at Peony House, which mean that when I got DaPH back from my alpha reader, I had to rewrite a bulk of it. So I pushed through Bladelore edits to get it to a second beta reader, and then pushed through DaPH edits to make sure it got to my editor on time.

So I’m finally breathing. I mean, not completely easily, because I got the brilliant idea to jump into CampNaNoWriMo this year, so April will be spent drafting book 2 in the Invisible Entente series. But at least it’s light and something fun. I’m really enjoying this new series.

I promised all kinds of WIPpets and previews, and they are all coming. I’m going to start sharing the first chapter of Bladelore next week, for one thing. I’ll break it up into three sections and hopefully by the time the third section is up, the book will be in the process of going up for purchase!

*deep breath*

What about you? How did you pass your March?

 

 

News, Update, Introduction

Cover

The news: I decided to experiment a little bit with book distribution, so as of yesterday, Bloodlore is available to borrow through Kindle Unlimited. This means some great perks for those enrolled in the program, but look for some great sales coming up in the next three months as well for all Kindle users.

A Cadis Trilogy update: Blightlore came back from my alpha reader today, which means I’m about to dive into the next round of edits. The notes I got back, added to the cover by Jeff Brown, have made me even more excited to share it with you, and based on the current schedule, barring any major life upheavals, November 2015 is looking likely for the release!

A Song of the Blackbird update: this gothic fantasy novel has crawled under my skin and won’t let go. I’m enjoying playing with the new tone, the new POV (my first attempt at writing first person in years), and the new characters. It’s given me the opportunity to study teachings from Pythagoras, to play with Greek mythology, and to listen to endless concertos and symphonies. I have such high hopes for the result of this project that I’m almost afraid to work on it — worried the reality won’t match what’s in my head. But my rational brain kicks in and reminds me that I can live with perfection in my head as long as I want — if I want anyone else to enjoy it, I’ll need to get the ideal a bit dirty on the page, and use the edits to bring it closer to what I want it to be. It’s a good reminder not to let high standards get in the way of doing the work.

The other exciting item I want to share is that, starting next week, I’ll be kicking off a new blog series. I haven’t given up on the Gothic Fiction series, but at the moment I’m slugging my way through Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, which is more epic than the epic I expected it to be (I confess I’m cross-reading with some lighthearted Agatha Christie mysteries). So, to fill the void until the next GF post, I would like to present:

Andvell

26 weeks(ish) of delving into the people, places, and species you love most about this magical world. The history of Andvellian dragons, or House Gendron, the royal family; some backstory of Brady Reed or our old friend, Raul; factoids, common themes, geography. It’ll be like high school lessons about subjects that don’t actually exist! I’m looking forward to digging into all of it, but a project like this needs a bit of reader participation. Have any subjects you especially want to read about? Leave a comment below with your ideas!