The Rose Shield – Catling

Rose Shield 2
The Rose Shield is my current WIP. A month ago, I introduced Raker  (Here). He’s half mad, but has sparks of unexpected wisdom if you can get over the fact that he converses with the river fog. My main character is Catling, and here’s the start of her story:

Chapter One Excerpt

Hanging Day.

Catling clutched the back of her mother’s wool skirt as Keela picked a path through the market crowd. Head down, she kept her eyes on the bare heels slapping the pavers ahead of her, afraid of a swat if she let go.

“Stop tugging on my dress and tramping on my heels,” Keela said without a glance back. She wrenched her skirt free. “And keep up.”

Catling flinched and scurried to catch up. At six, she was a scrawny thing and easily buffeted by the larger bodies that failed to see her. The market was all shoving and yelling heads off on hanging day, and she wouldn’t have minded if Keela weren’t in such a hurry.

She spotted a split-copper and darted from safety to pinch it from the crack between two pavers. A pair of scampering boys dodged around her as she ducked back behind her mother with a crooked grin. She slid the coin into her pocket beside her carved waterdragon and considered where she might hide it. All over the warrens, she kept secret stashes of split and clipped-coppers, stowed into crevasses and holes and buried under stones. She was rich and someday she’d collect them in a sack and ride a ferry to the sea.

“Always big crowds Summertide hanging day,” Keela said over her shoulder. “The weather’s kind enough and food’s plenty. Maybe we’ll share a meat tart and catch a couple neck-stretchers.”

The mere thought of a tart set Catling’s stomach growling. During Summertide, the market circled almost all the way around the warrens. Tables, carts, stalls, crates, and planks balancing on rickety chairs were set up haphazard like river rocks that people flowed around. Servants from the tiers sauntered down with their guards and pockets of clipped silver to spend however they pleased.

Riverfolk sold fish and eels by the pier. Glassy-eyed twitchers lolled against a stone wall, begging for anything they could sell for a taste. Smelters and smiths hawked pieces of metal shaped into knives and tools. She passed other guilds peddling rag-cloth and rope, trinkets and baubles, lye soap and tallow candles, and just about everything else she could imagine. Cull Tarr preachers traded promises for prayers, and tradesmen from far off Lim-Mistral decorated tables with smooth glass bottles for nighttime luminescence. She caught her reflection in a standing mirror and winced at the sight, the ugly red halo on her face like a permanent bruised eye.

Crofter’s Moon

original images - pixabay

original images – pixabay

In my fantasy world spring truly arrives with the Crofter’s Moon. The soil warms and the old jenny plods before a hand-held plow. Seeds drop in tidy rows, and sprouts peek from the rich loam, tender promises of harvests to come. Neighbors emerge from their dark hearths, shuttered eyes thrown wide in their hunger for light. Hearts venture in celebration, seeking communion, another lean winter survived. The sun blesses faces and beats on backs as the endless cycles of all life wax and wane. There are chores to be done, but the world feels hopeful and alive.

The Crofter’s Moon shines its full face tonight. Enjoy the coming Crofter’s Moon. May your garden grow a bounty and of your heart flourish with love.

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pixabay

Excerpt from the Crofter’s Moon, Dragon Soul Trilogy

Brend’s shoulders rose in a shrug, and he stretched his legs out in front of him, his ankles crossed. “Do you remember what Conall said when he spoke to the lair’s riders? He said, in essence, that the choice to do nothing in the face of cruelty is no different than choosing cruelty itself. I’ve mused over those words since. Every time we look away from ruthlessness, poverty, corruption, and suffering, we’re allowing those things to flourish and grow. Are we saying it doesn’t matter to us? We don’t care enough? We stood by as a people and did nothing when the governors murdered your father. We saw dragons captured and tortured, Morfael exiled, skyriders banned. Then cruelty crouches on our own doorsteps, and we are suddenly outraged. If a child is beaten and we neglect to interfere, who are we to rail when the child grows into a violent man? If we fail to feed the hungry are we choosing to starve them to death?”

Earlin rested her elbows on the table. “You have too much time on your hands.”

“Maybe so.” Brend chuckled. “But reflection is good for me.” He shook her gently by the back of her neck. “I’m trying to choose the Belonging over fear, Earlin, and discover what that means for me. Do the same and you’ll find your way.”

The Sorcerer’s Garden

Have you visited Kevin Cooper’s new digs Raves & Reviews? It’s a welcoming place for authors and readers alike. Kevin, a talented author in his own right, provides two services. One, he gives authors a place to Rave about their new releases, and two, as an avid reader, he provides objective, honest, and sincere Reviews. Kevin recently reviewed The Sorcerer’s Garden and left me with a huge smile. 🙂

China Cabinet

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To celebrate National Poetry Writing Month, I attended a poetry workshop on Sunday. One exercise was to write a direct address poem to something on a shelf in my home.

China Cabinet

You passed hands through generations
the repository of aged and foreign gifts
a family’s prized dna preserved in amber
wood, curved, glued, etched and oiled
your beveled doors and skeleton key guarding
treasures from childhood’s inquisitive fingers.

I remember you, china cabinet children
those exquisite painted faces
skin cracking and seams parting.
I cradled your infant limbs
your flopping head, the ties binding you
lengthening and loose.

Your hair was shorn from a stranger
bound remnants of a life long dead
red silk fusty and ivory fading to rust
sewn forever around you.
But you are not forever as neither am I
nor the mothers who dusted these shelves
or polished this silver.

We will come to clay again, I before you
and you will collect my past in your vault
of family antiquities I no longer recall
for you are all that remembers the dead.
You are all that remains of the dead.

Writespiration – Drawn Towards the Sun

in-the-titleLast week I participated in Sacha Black’s Writespiration – It’s All in the Title.  She gave us a list of titles that she’d gathered from our WIPs the week before. We were instructed to pick one and write a story in less than 200 words. I chose the title Drawn towards the Sun. Here’s my story:

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pixabay

Drawn Towards The Sun

I was afraid to open the door, afraid the light would burn my eyes after so many months in the burrow, attuned to its shadowy corners. The others crowded behind me, their eagerness pressing on my back. “Close your eyes,” I warned them and thumbed the latch.

My vision reduced to slits, I cracked the door. The sunlight burned, a white-hot flame searing my retinas. We gasped in unison and paused, breath locked in our chests. I eased the door open, slowly, wider, the heat tumbling down from above with a miasma of foreign smells.

The world had changed. Despite our intelligence and will, despite the technology wielded at our fingertips, mankind hadn’t been able to halt its advance. It rolled over us, unstoppable, transforming the landscape into something ancient and new. I’d expected it, but I was startled, nonetheless.

I shielded my half-lidded eyes. “I’ll go first.” I took a tentative step and climbed the stairs, my hand tracking the wall for support. The heat baked through my clothes. Creatures stirred in the crooked branches and thorny brambles, and I inhaled the fecund scent of the land. The sun flared and I smiled. Spring had arrived.

Recommended Reads: The Bone Wall by D. Wallace Peach

Reviews are precious to authors. I’m still at that place in my career where I read them all, grin or grimace. And on occasion, when a great one comes along, I do a happy dance in my living room. Those are the reviews that took time and thought to write. Those are the ones where you know that the reader connected with your book, or at least, enjoyed it. Better yet, those reviews are written by bloggers! Thank you, Dylan, for the great review.

Suffolk Scribblings

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The Bone Wall is a great example of the importance of a book’s cover. I’ve been following D Wallace Peach’s blog for a while and while her books sounded intriguing, there was always another books I’d rather read more. Then she decided to have new covers created for her books (you can read the full story here) and The Bone Wall went from intriguing to must read (yes, I really am that shallow).

The Description

Blue light ripples and crackles as the shield walls fracture. The remnants of a doomed civilization stand vigil outside, intent on plunder and slaves, desirous of untainted blood to strengthen their broken lives. With the poisons, came deformities and powers, enhanced senses and the ability to manipulate waves of energy—lightbenders and fire-wielders.

For those who thrived for generations within the walls, the broken world looms, strange and deadly, slowly dying. While the righteous pray…

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