Friday, August 29, 2014

When Destiny Comes Calling Installment Seven

Somehow … I still have no idea how … last Friday took me by complete and utter surprise. It slipped past in little more than a breath, like a ghost, and before I realized what had happened, it was Monday.

It pains me to admit it, but I completely forgot about poor Alexander and Destiny and Fate and the unknown little one of as of yet undetermined identity.

So, you can imagine, I was even more determined not to miss this week’s installment. Unfortunately, I gave myself rather a tall order with where we left the story last time. So much ground to cover! And the votes were all quite close, by the way. I counted twice, just to be sure.

If you’re trying to catch up, you can read the previous installments here: When Destiny Comes Calling – A Serial Short Story.

Destiny - 7

Alexander ignored Miss Destiny’s interruption and forged ahead, pacing with his hands clasped behind his back as he spoke in the no-nonsense voice he’d learned from his father, the Baron of Midsig. “Considering that I just rushed an ogre to save the both of you, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect to be told just what is going on, and to find out why you, Miss Fate, and the child were here in the swamp in the first place, and what in the realm of exploding things this has to do with my family’s curse.”

Miss Destiny pursed her lips and then nodded. “Fair enough. Fate, do you care to do the honors?”

With a heavy sigh, the young woman sat on a fallen log with the baby snuggled against her shoulder and her ankles crossed before her. She dipped her head toward Alexander. “I’m afraid it’s rather a long story, but I shall attempt to keep it brief so you can follow along without unduly taxing your mental abilities.”

Alexander started to stammer a reply, but thought better of it when Destiny’s glare set the skin crawling on his arms.

Fate cleared her throat. “As I was saying, we’ll keep to the short version. What do you people say, ‘short and sweet?’ Here goes: I am Fate, formerly a countess in the Emperor’s court in Amardell. And this,” she glanced down at the baby in her arms, “is Emperor Caldwell VI.”

“The sixth, you say?” Alexander stopped in his tracks and no amount of self-control could keep him from shivering. “Emperor Caldwell VI?”

“Indeed—” Fate broke off and her lips curled into a thin smile. “I see the meaning is not entirely lost on you. Really, Destiny, you did not do his mental skills justice.”

Destiny sniffed. “No one is more surprised than I am. Must be the moisture in this swamp air seeping into his brain and causing it to expand.”

“Stop!” The force of his own voice surprised him. He shook his head in a vain attempt to regain some of his composure. “If you please. I beg pardon but I simply can’t focus with you two bickering. Now hold on and back up. This baby is the Emperor? But then, oh hang it all, does that mean old Emperor Caldwell V is dead?”

Both Miss Destiny and Miss Fate nodded.

Alexander ran his hands through his hair—a nervous gesture his mother, the formidable Baroness of Midsig, had often warned against. (She claimed it made his hair resemble a pin cushion.) “Killed?”

“Gracious no,” Fate said. “He was a very old man. Died in his sleep, leaving his troublesome throne to his grandson and his empire on the verge of total chaos.”

“All right, let me get this straight.” Alexander folded his arms across his chest. “If Caldwell V is dead, and Caldwell VI is Emperor, than what in all of Cantakorious is he doing out here in the middle of a swamp with you two?”

Destiny’s skirt rustled as she adjusted it about her legs. “Really, Alexander, if you would just calm down we—”

“No! I am done being calm.” He paced back and forth in front of the ogre’s corpse, painfully aware of the pair of disapproving glances leveled his way. “I’ve had more than enough, thank you very much. It’s high time you were truthful with me. What am I doing out here? Where is here? And why do you have the Emperor? I do hope you didn’t kidnap him. Because being accused of kidnapping emperors is a sure-fire way to get me kicked out of military school before I can even apply!”

“Well …” Fate grimaced. “It’s not a kidnapping exactly.”

“Oh, don’t sugarcoat it.” Destiny rose and stared Alexander in the eye. He fought to keep from withering before her piercing gaze. “If he wants the plain and simple truth so much, he can have it. Yes, we kidnapped the Emperor. Yes, Alexander, you are now involved. Yes, a good number of people are already on our trail and will try to kill us.

“But we are trying to protect dear baby Caldwell and the Empire from those who would try to claim his throne, not harm him. And as to your involvement, well, you can thank your great great great grandfather for that and stop blaming me!”

“That’s right,” Fate chimed in. “You remember dear? The one who tried to assassinate Emperor Caldwell I?”

“Because of him, your family was cursed. And whenever a Caldwell was in mortal danger, a Beauford must arise to protect him and—”

“Die in his place.” Fate’s chilling whisper sent fear tingling down Alexander’s spine.

*     *     *     *

I thought it would be fun to try something different this week. So instead of choosing one of the options I wrote, y’all get to write a response to the prompt below, and a select panel of judges (ahem, yours truly!) will choose the winning line to feature in next week’s installment.

Excited? I am!

PROMPT: Write Alexander’s response to this new development. It can be an action, reaction, line of dialogue, etc. But write only Alexander’s response—i.e. don’t pen a paragraph of dialogue between Alexander and Destiny—and you are limited to no more than four sentences.

Have fun! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adventures In Artwork

First off, I am pleased to announce the giveaway winner! Thanks to everyone who entered. Rest assured, even if y’all didn’t win this time, there will be more giveaways coming up in the future.

And the winner is: Jaime Heller!

Congratulations, Jaime! Thank you for following my blog and facebook page. Please email me in the next 48 hours at thesongkeeper@gmail.com with your mailing address to claim your prize! Be sure to let me know which of the books you would like to receive!

*     *     *     *

Every so often, in the middle of juggling writing projects, I am struck with an attack of the artist’s bug. It causes the sort of itch that won’t let me rest until I pull out a pad and pencil and start sketching.

As I shared in a previous post a few months ago titled “I am an artist,” I used to have secret aspirations of being able to dash out gorgeous works that rivaled those of Alan Lee. And still, if there was one practical talent I could magically gain (other than superhero abilities, of course), I would hope it was the ability to create truly beautiful artwork.

Unfortunately, my fairy godmother hasn’t shown up yet to gift me with the ability to artfully dash paint on the canvas while twirling and singing with forest animals. Disappointing, right?

But I do enjoy pretending that I am an artist every now and then. Especially with characters from fantasy novels—including my own. Some of y’all may have already seen this on my facebook page, but if not, please meet the main characters from Orphan’s Song.

Characters' Collage 2

Do you ever get struck with an artwork itch? Ever sketch your own characters or a favorite character from a novel? If so and you’ve posted it online, comment with the link—I’d love to see! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Gifting For All of You

Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!
- Neil Gaiman

I’ve been thrilled to see that there’s been a recent influx of followers lately, both here on my blog and on my facebook page. So, as a thank you for all of my followers, both old and new, I decided to host a giveaway!

And what better gift to giveaway than a book?

Due to the recent trouble the postal service has been experiencing with sea dragons devouring their carrier pigeons, this particular giveaway is restricted to the US only. Apologies.

I love gifting books that I’ve personally enjoyed. Nothing makes me more excited than getting to share some of my favorites with readers. So, the winner of this giveaway will get to select one of the following:

To enter, you must be a follower of this blog and my facebook page. Simply sign up by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below. You will have the chance to gain additional entries as well.

I wish I could give a gift to every single one of my readers! But as it is, I want to thank all of you and wish you all the best of luck with the giveaway! 

 Rafflecopter Giveaway - click here to enter!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

When Destiny Comes Calling—Installment Six

As promised, your Saturday Special of When Destiny Comes Calling. And—also as promised—it’s going to be a good one. (Excuse me a devious chuckle.) I can’t wait to see your votes!

Many thanks for your understanding when I switched the post last minute yesterday. I was simply too excited to share the gorgeous new cover for my novella, Out of Darkness Rising. (If you haven’t seen it yet, you really must check it out!)

As always, if you’ve missed an installment of Alexander and Destiny’s story, you can read them here: One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

 

Destiny - 6

 

Alexander plucked the sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. With a world weary sigh, he sank down onto an obliging rock near the ogre’s corpse. “What in the name of all things fierce and ferocious was that?”

Miss Destiny sighed. “It’s called an ogre. Gracious me, but I would have supposed you would know that by now. Come along, dear. You can come out now! It’s quite safe.”

Startled by the abrupt switch in tone and conversation, Alexander spun around. Miss Destiny stood on the far side of the hummock assisting a young woman out of the bushes. She was clad in a gray cloak over a starched black and white servant’s dress, and carried a bundle in her arms.

Alexander started to his feet. “Is that what I think it is?”

Miss Destiny shrugged. “Please note that I have made no claims about being able to decipher the workings of your mind.”

The bundle wriggled and a tiny fist shot out of the wrappings. From within the blanket, came a high-pitched squalling.

“It is . . . it’s a baby.”

The young woman clutched the screaming bundle to her chest. “It is not!”

Alexander rolled his eyes. “I don’t mean to sound thick, ma’am, but if that’s not a baby, then what exactly is it?”

The young woman turned her nose up at that—and the resemblance she bore to Destiny in that moment made Alexander want to dash headlong into the swamp.

“I’m afraid, it’s none of your business.” The young woman bounced the child on her hip until his wails subsided—something Alexander was supremely grateful for.

He sheathed his sword and dropped back to the ground, resting his back against a tree, and stretching his feet before him. “I suppose the servant’s get-up is none of my business, either?”

The young woman twisted to face Destiny. “Why he’s nowhere near as thick as you make him out to be!”

Normally such sarcasm would have earned its own sarcastic retort, but Alexander was far too weary, frustrated, and desperate to find out more to be bothered with thinking up a witty reply. “Might one perhaps inquire as to your name, ma’am? Or is that none of my business too?”

Miss Destiny laughed at that. The shrill sound only served to raise Alexander’s hackles. “None of your business assuredly, but we shall tell you all the same. Her name is Fate.”

Alexander’s jaw dropped, and he stared from one woman to the other. “Fate . . . Destiny . . . must have been a shortage of decent names in the year you were born.” He pushed up to his feet, then dusted his hands off on his muddy trousers. “Now, considering that I just rushed an ogre to save the both of you—”

“Not to be a stickler for the facts, but I do seem to recall being the one who defeated the monster.”

Alexander ignored Miss Destiny’s interruption and forged ahead, pacing with his hands clasped behind his back as he spoke in the no-nonsense voice he’d learned from his father, the Baron of Midsig. “Considering that I just rushed an ogre to save the both of you, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect to be told just what is going on, and to find out why you, Miss Fate, and the child were here in the swamp in the first place, and what in the realm of exploding things this has to do with my family’s curse.”

*     *     *

Help decide the course of the story by voting on your favorite option in the comments!

Option 1:

Miss Destiny pursed her lips and then nodded. “Fair enough. Fate, do you care to do the honors?”

With a heavy sigh, the young woman sat down on a fallen log, baby snuggled against her shoulder. “Very well, sister, but I rescind my former assessment. I’m afraid he is even thicker than you said.”

“Now see her—” Alexander broke off. “Wait, did you just call her sister?”

With a groan, he dropped to the ground and cupped his chin in his hand. Just when he’d thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, now there were two of them.

“So who’s the baby? Your brother? Is his name Doom?”

“Indeed not.” Destiny sniffed. “If you must know, he’s a common shepherd’s son named Peterkin, and vitally important to our mission. Now do sit down, boy, and try to stop complaining for half a second at a time. We are about to explain everything.”

Option 2:

Miss Destiny pursed her lips and then nodded. “Fair enough. Fate, do you care to do the honors?”

With a heavy sigh, the young woman sat on a fallen log with the baby snuggled against her shoulder and her ankles crossed before her. She dipped her head toward Alexander. “I’m afraid it’s rather a long story, but I shall attempt to keep it brief so you can follow along with unduly taxing your mental abilities.”

Alexander started to stammer a reply, but thought better of it when Destiny’s glare set the skin crawling on his arms.

Fate cleared her throat. “As I was saying, we’ll keep to the short version. What do you people say, ‘short and sweet?’ Here goes: I am Fate, formerly a countess in the Emperor’s court in Aamardell. And this,” she glanced down at the baby in her arms, “is Emperor Caldwell VI.”

Option 3:

Miss Destiny pursed her lips and then nodded. “Fair enough. Fate, do you care to do the honors?”

Fate smiled, and a sickly sweet smile Alexander thought it, the sort a cat delivers just before it pounces. “You know of course about the family curse—”

“Hold on right there.” Alexander cast about for a seat and finally settled on a boulder beside the ogre’s carcass. He got a whiff as he sat down and vowed to never breathe again. Resting his elbows on his knees to keep his dueling pistols accessible, he turned his attention back to Fate. “Let’s start at the beginning.”

Fate waved a dismissive hand. “Well, as you know, it all began when your great great great grandsire tried to assassinate Emperor Caldwell II …” She broke off and peered at his face. “Wait … you don’t know, do you?”

*     *     *

If you enjoy Alexander and Destiny’s story, consider pinning it on Pinterest or sharing it with your friends online! Please just link back to the original source.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to vote!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Out of Darkness Rising New Cover Reveal

First off, for all of you who were eagerly anticipating the next installment of Alexander’s story, never fear, it is coming and will be posted online tomorrow! (So you can set down the tar and feathers and cancel the lynch mob, please and thank you.) I plan to make a Saturday Special of it this week, just for you.

This post simply couldn’t wait.

It never rains, but it pours …

This statement has never seemed truer to me than it has this summer. There have been so many things that have happened over the past few months. Some good. Some bad.

Some highly exciting!

The following news falls in the latter category. Out of Darkness Rising, a novella I wrote several years ago, is gearing up for an upcoming release! It has a new cover and will be releasing in February of 2015! (Which means, I’m currently wrapping up edits for Orphan’s Song, diving into edits for Out of Darkness Rising, planning and prepping for book releases, and writing book two of the Songkeeper Chronicles. Whew! See what I mean about the pouring?)

It’s been a long journey with this novella. More of a circuitous route than a path, really. Some of you have been around since the beginning. This was my first true book ever written and completed. It was originally contracted back in 2011 with one publishing company, but that ended up not working out. So in November of 2012, Magpie Eclectic Press picked it up.

Only there were a few unforeseen delays last year … but now, we’re moving forward! I can hardly believe it.

And I’m incredibly excited to get to share the incredible new cover below! We used a contest where a number of fabulous designers submitted an overwhelming number of awesome cover concepts—which, I have on good authority, made selecting a winner quite a difficult task

But against insurmountable odds, a winner did at last emerge with one spectacular cover! I’m slightly in love with it. This is the full cover—both front and back—gorgeous, isn’t it?

OODR Full Wrap

DARKNESS REIGNS UNCHALLENGED.

For the villagers on the accursed Island, life has only one meaning—death. Bound to the Island by the curse, the villagers suffer beneath the iron claw of the serpent, daily breathing the poison of his breath and dying to appease his insatiable appetite.

When Marya’s parents are slain by the serpent for their belief in a legendary king, she becomes an Outcast. Struggling to survive and avoid the vengeance of the Tribunal, Marya is torn between legend and the harsh reality of the Island. Yet when a forgotten promise springs to life, she cannot help wondering if the old stories might in fact be true. And if they are, will the promise prove stronger than the curse?

If you’re excited about the upcoming release of Out of Darkness Rising or Orphan’s Song, consider posting the book covers on Pinterest, or sharing the news with your friends online!

In other news—I feel so newscaster-ish when I say that!—I now hang out on twitter and Google+ in addition to my facebook page, so feel free to look me up there!

And don’t forget, the next installment of Alexander Mitus Scot Beauford III’s story will be live on the blog tomorrow, and—pray excuse me a devious chuckle—but it’s going to be good. You won’t want to miss it, take my word for it!

Kirk out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Behold the Dawn

It’s been a while since I’ve “reviewed” any books on here, mainly because I’ve been so busy that I’m lucky when I have a chance to read … let alone write a review.

But this was one book I enjoyed too much not to mention, so I wanted to share it with y’all, my dear readers.

It’s a step outside my usual genre, veering off-road onto the historical fiction trail. (Though, I did once have secret dreams of writing epic historical fiction, generally something involving the Old West, cowboys, outlaws, good old fashioned shoot-outs, and six shooters.)

Anyway, rabbit trail aside, I’m so thrilled to get to tell you about Behold the Dawn, by K.M. Weiland.

Behold the Dawn Cover

Marcus Annan, a tourneyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade.

Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.

I don’t entirely know why, but the movie Kingdom of Heaven about the Second Crusade is one of my all time favorites—actually I do know why: epic music, tremendous battle scenes, and one of the best cavalry charges ever filmed! (Please Note: I am not recommending this movie for everyone to watch as it earned its high rating for violence.) Anyway, regardless, because of that as soon as I saw Behold the Dawn and learned the time period and premise, I knew I had to read it!

And read it, I did, for hours on end. There may have been a few nights (er, early mornings) where I didn't set it down until the light on my clock reminded me that t'was already 3:00 AM.

K.M. Weiland weaves a memorable tale in a writing style that is exquisite, but not pretentious. The tone and cadence of both narration and dialogue fits the time period without being so archaic as to be unintelligible to the uninitiated.

Characters such as Marcus Annan, Lady Mairead, Merak (loveable Merak!), and Gethin were all so unique and interesting that I probably would have read the book had they all been simply vacationing together on the beach. Probably. Thankfully, Weiland didn't put that to the test. :)

Instead, she provided a story full of plot twists, secrets, and enough battles to sate my hunger for adventure. Not only that, but the fighting in the battles was refreshingly realistic - instead of the usual stylized action you find in most fantasy or medieval novels - with believable consequences and injuries that don't simply disappear on the next page, as well as horses and riding that felt true to life.

All in all, Behold the Dawn is an incredible, epic, medieval adventure that I highly recommend for an older audience. It’s one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time, just to enjoy the full experience all over again.

Friday, August 8, 2014

When Destiny Comes Calling—Installment Five

I finished an intense round of edits last night, or rather at 3:30 this morning, then glanced at the clock and realized what day today is, and panicked!

Because today is Friday, August 8th, the scheduled date for the return of poor Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III’s story.

So being completely brain-dead after hours spent tweaking, revising, cutting, rewriting, and revising again, what did I do? Sat down and pounded out Installment Five of When Destiny Comes Calling.

I did it for you.

Enjoy.

As always, you may read the previous installments here: One, Two, Three, and Four!

Destiny - 5

A high pitched scream brought Alexander reeling to his feet, pistols drawn.

“Hullo? Miss Destiny, is that you?”

He turned in a circle, scanning the dripping woods for any sign of the exasperating woman. He found it hard to believe that such a high pitched scream could have come from her throat. She just didn’t seem the type.

A second cry rang out, and this time Alexander dove into action. He darted off through the swamp in the direction of the cry, wet pistols held at the ready, wet cloak flapping about his legs, wet sword rattling in its sheath.

He could only hope he wouldn’t be too late.

“Hold on! I’m coming!”

The third scream was even louder and shriller than the preceding ones, and it was followed by a roar so deep and fierce it could only come from an ogre. Alexander tugged his sword from its sheath and crashed out of the thickness of the swamp onto a dry, bare hummock of land.

He halted, shocked at the sight before his eyes.

An ogre stood before him, massive as a boulder, with a head the size and apparent density of a sixteen pounder cannonball, and skin the hue of swamp mud and the texture of lichen.

If lichen were armored, that is.

The ogre stooped and poked at something on the ground, and the shrill scream rang out again.

Alexander caught a glimpse of gray cloth and spray into action. Wielding his sword with a strength acquired through long hours of cannon dismantling and refurbishing, he swung at the back of the ogre’s knees. The blade sank deep into the monster’s skin, so deep that when the beast stumbled forward with a cry of rage, the sword tore free of Alexander’s hands.

Leaving him unarmed before an enraged ogre.

He gulped and tried to reconstruct what had just happened in his mind. It hadn’t turned out quite like he’d envisioned.

“Don’t just stand there! Move!” A voice he knew all too well rang in his ear.

Alexander prided himself on his ability to receive commands and completely ignore them. A habit he would have to break should he ever join the military, but one that proved remarkably useful in the meantime.

But something told him that this was a command he should not ignore.

He ducked behind a tree just before the ogre’s fist came smashing down where he had been standing. Then Miss Destiny stepped into view, a pair of curved swords in her hands. She sprang into action, and Alexander’s mouth dropped open at the speed and grace with which she moved.

The crippled ogre didn’t stand a chance.

Within moments, the monster was reduced to a bleeding hulk sprawled across the ground. Miss Destiny slipped her swords over her shoulders and they disappeared into thin air, then she bent down and tugged Alexander’s blade free from the ogre’s knees.

He staggered out from the behind the tree, for once at a complete loss for the proper words.

Help decide what happens next! Leave your vote for your favorite story option in the comments!

Option 1:

Alexander plucked his sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. All without saying a word.

Miss Destiny patted down her hair then smoothed her skirt, though he didn’t know why she bothered since the hem was stained with ogre blood. “It was a good effort,” she said.

He grunted.

“Really, it was. With a bit of training, some exercise, a little real world experience, I do believe you’ll do, Alexander.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and plopped down to the ground. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Destiny sighed and flounced away. “Well, all right then, though I did believe you wanted to end your family curse!”

Alexander watched her go without a shred of remorse. Insufferable woman. Was this the truth of the family curse? Cursed to failure? To be so completely ineffective as to be shown up in ogre fighting by a prim lady in a fitted gown who fought with vanishing swords?

Option 2:

Alexander plucked his sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. He spoke without turning to face her. “You screamed.”

She nodded. “I did.”

Sounded so pleased with herself too. “It was really high.”

“I suppose it was at that.”

“My ears are still ringing.”

“Well, gracious me, Alexander. Do you want me to fetch a doctor for you, or do you think you can pull it together enough to carry on with the mission?”

He spun around then, no longer able to contain his frustration. “Well, hang it all, Miss Destiny, I don’t know! I haven’t the faintest clue what the mission supposedly is. I don’t know where I am. And you apparently can’t give an ounce of helpful information to save your life. So, the truth, if you please. Were you honestly in any danger back there, or were you simply endeavoring to devise a new way to torment and embarrass me for your own amusement?”

Her eyes twinkled. “It’s called a diversion. One would expect a young military enthusiast who’s done such extensive research would be able to recognize it.”

Option 3:

Alexander plucked the sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. With a world weary sigh, he sank down onto an obliging rock near the ogre’s corpse. “What in the name of all things fierce and ferocious was that?”

Miss Destiny sighed. “It’s called an ogre. Gracious me, but I would have supposed you would know that by now. Come along, dear. You can come out now! It’s quite safe.”

Startled by the abrupt switch in tone and conversation, Alexander spun around. Miss Destiny stood on the far side of the hummock assisting a young woman out of the bushes. She was clad in a gray cloak over a starched black and white servant’s dress, and carried a bundle in her arms.

Alexander started to his feet. “Is that what I think it is?”

Miss Destiny shrugged. “Please note that I have made no claims about being able to decipher the workings of your mind.”

The bundle wriggled and a tiny fist shot out of the wrappings. From within the blanket, came a high-pitched squalling.

“It is . . . it’s a baby!”

Stop by next Friday to see your vote change the course of Alexander’s story!

As always, if you enjoy the post, you are welcome to share it, please just link back to this blog.

Monday, August 4, 2014

When Destiny Comes Calling Returns

I’m sure you’ve all been sitting on pins and needles, biting your fingernails down to the bone, anxiously awaiting the next installment of Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III’s story.

What … you say you haven’t been?

I don’t quite understand. You see, we left poor Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III in rather an uncomfortable position last time, nearly a month ago! I’ve been concerned for his welfare, and I’m a pitiless author who tosses her characters into all sorts of desperate situations. If you have any heart in you at all, you must have been worried about him!

Allow me to refresh your memory:

Something crashed in the woods to his left, and Alexander instinctively reached for his pistols. But even as his hand settled on the muddied grip, he knew it was useless.

Damp gunpowder was about as helpful as Miss Destiny’s instructions. And a simple dueling pistol didn’t use nearly a large enough caliber bullet to make a dent in an ogre, let alone kill one. Pity he couldn’t have brought his cannon along on this little misadventure.

So he simply lay there, flat on his back in the mud, as the thing crashed nearer and nearer, hoping whatever-it-was would go away, and hoping he wouldn’t scream, and hoping he wouldn’t die before he discovered the history behind his family’s curse.

Remember? Peril. Danger. Foul smelling ogres!

Which brings up our next installment! There was slightly more division in the votes this time with the winning option taking the lead with nearly double the number of votes.

Need to refresh your memory? Read the previous installments: One, Two, Three, and Four.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

A high pitched scream brought Alexander reeling to his feet, pistols drawn.

“Hullo? Miss Destiny, is that you?”

He turned in a circle, scanning the dripping woods for any sign of the exasperating woman. He found it hard to believe that such a high pitched scream could have come from her throat. She just didn’t seem the type.

A second cry rang out, and this time Alexander dove into action. He darted off through the swamp in the direction of the cry, wet pistols held at the ready, wet cloak flapping about his legs, wet sword rattling in its sheath.

He could only hope he wouldn’t be too late.

“I’m coming!”

*     *     *     *

Alexander’s eyes flickered open to a world of dim lights, white sheets, and a constant, throbbing pain in his jaw. He slowly lifted his head from the pillow. The slightest movement felt like he was wading against a strong tide.

“Tsk, tsk. Really, Alexander.” A familiar voice spoke beside him.

Miss Destiny. Of course. He should have known he couldn’t escape the family curse so easily.

“What … happened?”

Somehow he couldn’t talk quite right. The words were muffled and slurred together, but she must have understood him, because she responded without hesitation.

“You dashed at that ogre like a complete ninnyhammer, tripped over your own scabbard, and smashed headfirst into a tree, that’s what.” She appeared in his line of vision, all prim and stern faced, gray eyes flashing disapproval. “A broken jaw, Alexander? Honestly, I’m disappointed. Heroes don’t break their jaws! They suffer inconsequential wounds like dislocated shoulders, or flesh wounds to the arms or thighs, or the ever popular gash along the hairline! Wounds they can shrug off with a heroic grimace as they dash back into the battle. Nothing that will send them to the sidelines for a month and certainly never a broken jaw!”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

All right, all right. Before you rise up in arms clamoring for my head, I’ll admit the truth. You’ve probably already guessed it, but this is a fake.

That’s right.

It’s not really the next installment of When Destiny Comes Calling. I simply couldn’t resist a little fun. Do please forgive me … and get rid of the tar and feathers. There’s simply no call for that!

The fifth installment is coming!

Tune in Friday, August 8th to enjoy the true fifth installment of poor Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III’s brush with Destiny. Watch your vote shape the course of Alexander’s fate!

Destiny Returns

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Orphan’s Song Cover Highlight

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with y’all all summer … and then wound up trapped in the hospital when the cover was officially released during Enclave’s Kickstarter Campaign.

Still, for those of you who haven’t spotted it yet, I am beyond excited to finally be able to show you the cover for Orphan’s Song, my fantasy novel releasing from Enclave Publishing this Fall!

Orphan's Song--Front Cover 02

Orphan’s Song is the story of a world woven through melody and shattered by discord, where a girl discovers that her Song contains far greater power than she ever could have imagined. A power that a ruthless soldier and his evil master seek to possess. A power that her guardian wants silenced.

Read the full blurb on the Songkeeper Chronicles page.

So, what do you think of the cover?

Gorgeous, isn’t it? The artist responsible for this beautiful cover is one Benjamin Lucas Powell. Personally, I think he did a splendid job.

From an author’s point of view, the book cover designing stage of the process can be a tad frightening. To be honest, once I received the first email broaching the dreaded (yet exciting?) topic, I was terrified!

What if I didn’t like it? What if it didn’t turn out as I imagined? What if it was one of those covers you see on Amazon every day, the ones that make you wince and grimace and wonder what in the world the designer was thinking?

I shouldn’t have worried so much.

As soon as we started talking design, Steve Laube at Enclave Publishing sent me a form to fill out listing elements I liked/disliked/absolutely loathed in book covers. He graciously kept me updated and informed throughout the entire process, and I was able to give feedback at all stages.

Until finally, we wound up with a gorgeous cover that I can’t wait to see in published form.

In my humble opinion, this cover captures the overall feel of the novel with just the right touches of the whimsical, hints of the danger, and glimpses of the magical that fill the world of Leira.

Not to mention a girl who looks exactly as I imagined my main character Birdie, orphaned drudge of the Sylvan Swan. You can practically see the sorrow and desperate longing and indomitable hope in her eyes!

What do you think? Would you pick this book off the shelf? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Interested in staying updated on the release news for Orphan’s Song? “Like” my facebook page for updates, fantasy “fandoming,” sneak peaks and more!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, Princess of Wales

The surprisingly true tale of how my picture almost wound up in a castle in Wales.

Yep. You heard that right. I’m famous.

Or almost was.

While I was in the hospital, I received quite an interesting email. Came all the way from Wales. Apparently, a certain picture I took a while back of one of my characters made quite the circuit of the web, until the man who contacted me stumbled upon it while scouting for images to represent a princess of Wales from the twelfth century, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd.

So, he contacted me to verify that the image was mine and request my permission to use it in an introductory panel in a castle in Wales.

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(The photo in question)

My first thought: The costume isn’t historically accurate! How could they use it?

My second thought: If they don’t care, I don’t!

Sadly, being woefully ignorant of Welsh history, I had never before heard of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd. So I decided to do a little bit of research and was completely fascinated by what I discovered—hooray for Wikipedia!

Gwenllian lived from 1097-1136, during one of the many conflicts between the Welsh and the Normans. She married Gruffydd ap Rhys, a prince of Wales, and joined him in leading daring raids against the Normans. Matters came to a head while Gruffydd was away on an alliance forming mission, so Gwenllian mustered the army and marched into battle herself.

Only to be defeated near Kidwelly Castle and beheaded by her enemies. A tragic end to the tale. But her example was an inspiration to the Welsh in their struggle against the Normans, and her name became a common battle cry throughout the conflict.

Fascinating, isn’t it? Check out Wikipedia’s article on Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd to find out more!

Research completed, I weight the pros and cons. I was amazed at the similarities between Gwenllian and the character in my novel that I had been depicting. Not only that, but her name is practically the same as mine! And who could say no to having their picture in a castle in Wales?

Pros won. Cons lost. So I said yes.

And immediately began planning ways to scrimp and save so I could eventually take a trip to Wales to visit the castle and research Gwenllian and walk the battlefield where she fought and died.

Only to get another email a few days later that regretfully informed me that they had run the image past a historian who rejected the photograph on the basis that the costume wasn’t historically accurate.

Ah well.

Should have listened to my first thought.

So there you have it. The fascinating tale of how my picture almost wound up inside a castle in Wales … and the even more fascinating tale of a princess of Wales who fought alongside her husband for the defense of her people.

I still intend to find out more about Gwenllian. Amazing character inspiration right there!