My Patio Failure

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I just put in a patio… for the second time.

That seems to be how I do things … twice. I try something with zero planning and no idea what the heck I’m doing. It’s pure adrenaline and inspiration, and usually, I have a lot of fun despite my first-time failures.

I wrote a book that way. Zipped through it, scribbling like a lunatic, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 30 days I wrote 189,000 words. I loved every single moment of it. Then I learned a thing or two (or 50) about writing and had to rewrite the whole book from start to finish. It took me two years.

It’s how I roll, apparently. I was raised believing I could accomplish anything if I put my mind to it and applied a hefty dose of elbow grease. A good impetus for trying new things, even though my first efforts are often disasters.

Imagine the worst sheetrock job of the century, the crumbling stone wall, the warped floor, the divorce, the singing waitress job (yup, I did that).

I put in this patio a couple years ago without any preparation – no sand, no wire, no plastic, no concrete, no level. I just set everything on top of the dirt. Each rock was a different size and I dug individual holes so they would all be even. It was spectacular.

My friends out here in the rainforest asked me how I prepped the foundation. “Oh, I just lay everything on the dirt,” I said cluelessly. They exchanged wide-eyed glances and bit their lips but had the grace not to explode my happy-bubble.

Did I mention the rainforest? The place where green things grow 2 feet a day… all year round. Within a month, the weeds between the stones were waist high. The squirrel-sized moles had tunneled beneath the whole thing, pushing stones aside and heaping up knee-high piles of dirt. For two years my beautiful “patio” was a jungle of thistle, ferns, burdock, blackberries, and grass. Yeesh.

So, it was time to do it over again… completely. When my eyeballs dried up from editing, I went outside and pulled up rocks and bricks and pavers and piled them in the woods. I weeded from one end to the other and relaid every single stone … the right way.

The point? Don’t be afraid to try new things if you feel inspired. A little planning and preparation is probably a good idea. But even if you jump in with both feet, like I do, know that failure is a great teacher and nothing to be shy about. The end result is often worth it, and you might surprise yourself!

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Beneath, Below, I Go.

Mermaid (title unknown) by Victor Nizovtsev

Mermaid (title unknown) by Victor Nizovtsev (Link to Source)

If you haven’t stumbled across Richard Ankers’ blog, you are missing something special. I’m having a crazy week, so what better time to share a piece of stunning writing. I’ve closed comments, so please let Richard know what you think.

And, if you like his style of writing, you might check out his book, The Eternals. I’ll vouch for some beautiful writing. Enjoy his story:

Beneath, Below, I Go

The sea rose in tumultuous swells rocking my small boat like a hammock in a hurricane. With each undulation I would rise up to God, stretch out my hands in prayer, only to be dragged away. The sky had never seemed so near yet so far.

I’d grown long past the point of uneasiness, my stomach having vacated it’s contents the previous evening. All that remained was my soul — I wasn’t ready to give it up without a fight. With no food and only half a bottle of tepid water, I knew time against me, but I refused to yield; I owed it to the others. That’s when I saw her. That’s when I knew hope.

She dipped up and down like a buoy brought to life, a demarcation to more hazardous waters — weren’t they all. I rubbed my eyes but only managed to knead salt into them. By the time I’d finished blinking, her aquamarine fingers clung to the boat.

I backed away — for what good that extra foot did — and waited as she peeped over the rotting wood; she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. More defined than a dream, yet more surreal than reality, her topaz eyes took me in appraising me from head to toe…. (continue reading: Beneath, Below, I Go.)

Dragons on the Loose

Dragons are on the loose!

My journey from traditional publishing to indie publishing is complete with the release of my last 4 books, a quartet set in a land of dragons and skyriders, mountain meadows and outland seas. The Moons mark the passage of the seasons in the books and here on my blog.

The Blurb-ish

In the distant mountains of the Mirror, exiled skyriders fly dragons in the old Way, merged in flesh, blood, and bone. Twenty years past, they fought for the freedom of the valley’s dragons … and lost.

Thus begins the epic adventure that stretches from the quaint village of Taran Leigh and the mountains of the Mirror to the Anghard Archipelago in the western sea. Welcome to a world where wealth and power rule, fear is the weapon of choice, and cruelty is the cost of a pocket of gold. It’s a world that forces a choice — indifference, complicity, or defiance.

The dragons of land and sea, souls of grace and beauty, hang in the balance. Will they descend into howling violence, lost to the terror and pain inflicted upon them by their tormentors? Or will they fly free, the creatures they were born to be? With each book, the stakes rise and far more than the dragon soul lies at risk.

“The chest rose above his head, long neck curving, aquamarine eyes fracturing the sunlight. This dragon’s scale gleamed blue and gray, sea-shaded with crescents of curling white waves. The webbed wings shone seafoam blue with ribbons of coral and the mottled green of seaweed. Kearney smiled. If the sea glimmered like this dragon, he’d have become a sailor.” – Mor Kearney, Clan Lord of Loughran.

Myths of the Mirror (Book 1):

Imprisoned in the stone lair, the captive dragons beat webbed wings and thrash serpentine tails. They tear their flesh and batter their bodies against the black bars of their cells, iron grating against iron. The once peaceful creatures howl, tormented by spine and spur, their fury matched only by their despair.

Treasa, the daughter of exiles, seeks the secrets of a hidden past and a father she never knew. Gifted with visions, she glimpses pieces of years long lost and a veiled future that only raises more questions. The dragons visit her dreams, laden with contradictions that tear at her heart — for one day she sails in unfettered flight, her arms thrown wide, and the next she writhes in tortured darkness, desperate to be free.

The lair’s black-garbed riders sense the dragons’ growing savagery. Yet Conall longs to grasp their power, to subdue them and soar, and he will endure the reek, filth, and terror of the lair to earn his right to fly. With a heart encased in steel, he masters the weapons of compliance to see his will done. At the cost of the woman he loves.

Then, a curved talon rends flesh and dragon scale, rattling against white ribs. Blood falls like rain and the world shifts. Treasa and Conall must decide who they are and what they stand for. Thus, the battle for the dragon soul begins again. Alliances form, old myths are revealed, and new myths are born.

Thanks again, my friends, for helping with the covers! 

Now, back to writing… 🙂

Thirsty Moon

Thirsty Moon

In my fantasy world, the Thirsty Moon ushers in the last of the summer’s heat. Rain is scarce and rivulets run dry in sandy streambeds. Late season gardens thirst for a long steady shower after weeks of waterless weather.

It’s a time for pickling and  stacking wood, blackberries and swimming holes. And now and then, a morning chill slides down with the stars, promising warm pies from cider-scented orchards and hinting of autumn.

The full face of the Thirsty Moon shines tonight, August 18th.

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Excerpt from Thirsty Moon, Eye of Fire

The days ambled by, and Mirah’s garden transformed, weeds pulled in an ever-widening circle, beds edged, produce picked and preserved. She lugged water from the well, determined that her life would flourish, no longer choked by fear and loss. Her modest bounty she shared at the forge, delivering a basket now and then of just-picked greens. Brend smiled when he found her silhouetted in his doorway, her invitation hanging in the air between them.

At day’s end, she left him leaning on the doorjamb, arms crossed, watching her walk into the dusty lane. She strolled past her home, admiring her neighbor’s gardens, the round-bellied pumpkins and hard-shelled squash, bee balm and buttercup crowding each other for space in the sun.

Not long ago, Wyn told her that the myth of a person’s life entailed more than a compilation of facts, the particulars of one’s history. More importantly, one’s myth rose from the way a person was perceived by others and by what one believed about oneself. Myths were amorphous, changeable, imbued with feeling, rich with dreams and reflections. They could be altered by a change in perception or a change of heart.

Not ready for home, she climbed a narrow path to the meadow above Taran Leigh, a path she knew well, like the myth of her life. The air carried a hint of coolness, signaling the coming of fall. Pulling herself up over a stone stile at the top of a small rise, she paused, drawn from her reverie. The meadow unfolded before her, awash with blue dannies fluttering endlessly, delicate petals raised to the sun. The flowers filled her with memories as if they lingered there only for her to find.

When she stepped into the meadow, the petals closed around her, bearing her as if on a wave. Floating through them, she touched them with her fingertips, felt their soft kisses. In the center of the meadow, she surrendered her burdens, lay them down with her fear to be carried away with the flowers when the wind came. The graceful alder bent its branches, alone in the waterless sea. She gazed up at a sky as blue as the dannies and saw a glint of copper wings, a dragon coming for her.

Coming Next Week!

Broken Sign

Broken Sign

First off, thank you to everyone who offered suggestions on my dragon book covers. Once again, I’m grateful to the lovely bloggers who people this virtual world. I can’t describe my gratitude for the friendship and support. 🙂 I tried every single idea and used most of them.

Special thanks to Nick (better known as Babbitman) not only for encouraging me to design different dragons for each cover but for actually doing one of them when I felt overwhelmed by the mere thought! He came through gloriously, and after he finished one, I was able to dismember and reassemble the rest.

Nick’s short story “Broken Sign” is a favorite of mine. Original, clever, quirky, and entertaining. I’ve closed comments. So just relax, read on and enjoy!

Broken Sign

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the dangers of artificial intelligence with luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk warning that AI could be “more dangerous than nuclear weapons”. Science-fiction has been banging this particular drum for decades: from HAL 9000 to Skynet in the Terminator movies, there are dozens of examples of artificial intelligence going rogue. Which is why it probably comes as a shock to learn that the first truly self-aware artificial construct was an overhead electronic variable message sign on the northbound A46, a few miles outside Nottingham. (continued….)

I am Worldmaker

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I am Worldmaker. You know naught of me, yet behold me in the very fibers of the air, in the devices of my creation. My realm spans the chaos of stars, beyond time expanding, worlds shaped and dying. I am elemental, secretive, the spark that sets mystery in motion, the wielder of birth and destruction. Some name me God, but possess not a wisp of understanding. I am vaster than the reaches of imagination. Can you conceive, truly, of eternity?

My fingers roll as I breathe being into this gaseous inferno. I fling my fireball to the cold reaches of the void to cool and crack, to change the very complexion of space. There is a pattern in anarchy, a sublime collection of chance that in each moment transforms existence. Do you understand? That you are a miracle? Wondrous and infinitesimal, that you matter not at all?

Am I cruel, heartless? Do you find in my tale the fear of annihilation? Or in the infinite act of creation, am I the mother of life, an embodiment of love? Do I care for your ephemeral souls? I am none of your human imaginings. I am.

I am.

Curious.

I have contemplated myself in your corporeal image. You, the mere whimsy of happenstance. What is it that compels me to peer through the veil of stars to your blue orb with its wind-blown seas? You are nothing. In a sweep of my hand, I might hurl your planet into extinction, and in the dance of time, none would know or care. What is it that draws my gaze your way?

Hidden among you there is one who knows me, who has the power to read the runes burned in my countenance. He is the wyrd, Worldshifter, wandering in self-accepted ignorance while possessed unwittingly of truth. For to live without knowing is the doorway to wisdom.

He is a man grown now, rummaging through the hours you call time, hurrying over the surface of your mechanical planet, wasting breath and questioning why. I wonder at his constant seeking and inquisitiveness, his desire to part the veil and step into the mystery, even at the risk of his fleeting life. He might be foolish, yet I think he is, in fact, oddly courageous.

My latest world spins free with a turn of my wrist. It soars, whirling into other planets, colliding in a blaze of agonized destruction. In its debris new worlds will birth, new life that would not have breathed if not for death.

My gaze returns to him.

I gather stardust unto myself, shaping my vision of being into solid form as I plummet downward. The heat of your atmosphere burns me, peels away my identity in black cinders and powdery ash. Fear flares like a brand through white bones and scarlet blood. A shooting star, I plunge into your cool, gray sea.

Forgetting who I am.

***

Note: So who is this mysterious World-Shifter she’s so intrigued by? Click here for the companion piece written by Nick (Babbitman). I love the direction he took!

I Need a Little Help with Book Covers

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I need your help with book covers.

My lovely book designer (for reasons beyond her control) had to back out of doing covers for my book series. My publishing deadline is August 20, which in book-time translates to pressure. I need to submit to Createspace on Thursday 🙂 Yikes!

So, I spent the weekend pulling together some covers until my brain turned to mush and I lost all perspective. You are all so sweet and supportive, but I need honest feedback. Your candid opinions are not only welcome but invaluable! And don’t worry, I have armadillo skin.

Here they are:

Thanks!

Cover Myths - Final

Myths of the Mirror (Book 1)

 

Cover Fire - Final

Eye of Fire (Book 2)

 

Cover Blind - Final

Eye of Blind (Book 3)

 

Cover Sun - Final

Eye of Sun (Book 4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Another Note: I completely forgot to include in my Interview of Steven Baird the link to his blog. So, here it is: Ordinary Handsome. Definitely worth checking out (After you help me with my covers! Ha ha! 🙂 )