Oathbreakers’ Guild

“The time has arrived for your final trial.” Dalcoran sat across from her, every detail of his grooming, attire, and manner precise, his features ageless despite his infirmity. “It’s an act which binds you to the guild, solidifies your power, and acknowledges the great burden you will bear as an influencer. Your oath to the heiress is absolute; you are sworn to do her bidding even when it rails against your personal wishes. It is the responsibility of the guild to see you prepared.”

“I understand.” Catling set her teacup on the low table between them. Nothing he said thus far shocked her, and yet, a chill coiled up her spine.

“What we ask of you, we ask of all initiates. We only ask it once in training, though your oaths may dictate future sacrifices in practice.”

“You may tell me, Dalcoran-Elan.” Catling threaded her fingers in her lap.

“You are to kill an innocent.” He met her eyes. “Not someone dying, sick, or aged. You must steal the future of someone at the height of life. The heiress may require it of you, and your binding oath will demand your obedience.”

She stared at him, an all-consuming emotion burning in her chest. Not horror but fury. “The heiress would never order the random execution of an innocent without purpose—as an exercise. Dalcoran-Elan, I refuse.”

“You cannot refuse, Catling.”

“I can refuse because that is exactly what I am doing.”

He sat in rigid silence and sipped his tea while hers grew cold on the table.

“I’m an aspirant,” she said, “and it’s within your rights to coerce me into compliance. Yet, I suspect the whole point of this trial is to test my willingness to stalk and kill with complete self-control.”

“I shall report your decision to the heiress,” he said, ignoring her statement.

“You may do so.” She rose to her feet and brushed the creases from her jacket. “You may also tell her that I will act as her assassin if the need arises, but I will refuse to murder without purpose.”

The knowing smile on Dalcoran’s face made her feel as though she were a child refusing to grow up. “You will learn in time, Catling, if your fiery principles are forged of steel or glass.”

**

A snippet from Oathbreakers’ Guild – Book II of The Rose Shield
Live Today.

Book I   

PS. Tornado Boy is touching down for the weekend. I may be delayed in responding to comments, but I will catch up. ❤

Book Talk: Waterdragon-Watching

Many thanks to Kevin Cooper for inviting me to his site for Book Talk. Little did Kevin know I was going to take him Waterdragon-Watching with the Heiress. He ended up being braver than I.

Source: KC Books and Music 

I rush down the ramp to the dock girding Elan-Sia, a tier city drilled into the midst of the glimmering delta. The river and sea are brilliant with luminescence, a sheet of liquid light that draws my eyes.

Kevin’s been waiting for me to talk about my new book, Catling’s Bane, and I’m late. But I have an excellent reason. “Guess what?” I catch my breath as I join him. “Instead of Book Talk, we’re going waterdragon watching!”

“Waterdragon watching?” He props his hands on his hips.

“Can you believe it?” I’m giddy at the thought. “While browsing the first-tier markets, I happened to mention that the heiress is in my book. The next thing I know, she’s offered to take us sailing. I couldn’t very well deny her, could I?”

“Is that her?” Kevin gestures toward the city, and I swing around. Lelaine-Elan, the heiress to the Ellegean throne, approaches with her escort of guards. She appears younger than her seventeen years, petite and pink-cheeked with a fall of blond ringlets. Her jacket brushes her boots, and she’s wearing an azure underdress with a wide belt.

We face her and bow. “Our respects, Heiress.” I point a sideways thumb at my friend. “This is Kevin Cooper.”

“A pleasure.” Lelaine dips her chin. “Shall we depart?” She doesn’t wait for a reply, so we clomp down the royal pier behind her. I imagine we’re taking one of the large cutters or ferries, but she climbs down into a single-masted catboat. I give Kev a nervous smile, and when he shrugs, we clamber aboard. A guard hands down a heap of blankets.

“We won’t travel far beyond the breakwater,” Lelaine informs the guard, and when he retreats, she hauls up the sails. Kevin stows the blankets, and I stare at the alien sea. “Is there anything I can do, Heiress?”

“Tell me about your book.” She cleats the stays and sits by the tiller. “I’ll manage the boat, and Kevin shall scout for waterdragons. I’m in no hurry to return to my duties, so if we wish, we may wrap ourselves in wool for a nighttime view of the sea. It’s lovely, brighter than the moons.”

Kev grins at the idea while I’m rethinking our adventure. The boat’s dinky, and I forgot my Dramamine. Too late to back out, I hold on as the balmy wind catches the sail and the catboat glides from the pier…

(Continue Reading: Book Talk: Waterdragon-Watching)

Sunday Blog Share: The Evolution of Mom

The Evolution of Mom

By Bridget of The Happy Quitter

Perhaps I shouldn’t be the one posting this since I am not a mother, but then on the other hand maybe that’s precisely the reason why I should post it because I watched all my friends go through all the different stages. I am a witness, this all is true!

The Evolution of Mom

Parenthood changes with each baby. Here, some of the ways having a second and third child differ from having your first:

Your Clothes

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.

The Baby’s Name

1st baby: You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.

2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.

3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger falls. Bimaldo? Perfect!

Preparing for the Birth…

(Continue Reading: The Evolution of Mom)

Empty #Writephoto

Empty

Sable and bristle brushes
clattered into the waste
between crinkled tubes of paint
gone her linseed and turpentine
she surrendered her easel to anger
and snapped her palette
in oily hues of cerulean blue
ochre and umber.

With room to spare
she stuffed the black bag
with false smiles and laughter
a whore’s fawning
over gallery Johns in tuxes
of mars and titanium
she discarded
the remnants of hope.

She left the bag at the corner
for dawn’s trash man
in a twilight of cadmium yellow
and alizarin crimson
her bitter heart she held close
bleeding against her chest
and doused the muse with spirits
watched sitcoms like an automaton
in ultramarine blue
she dreamt she was drowning.

In the watercolor morning
she ran breathless to the corner
her life collected and recycled
she rifled through her junk drawer
for her child’s dried up colors
a frayed synthetic brush
and on a whitewashed canvas
she sketched out her emptiness
and painted her soul full.

**

Special thanks to Sue Vincent for the beautiful photo prompt. Consider joining in!

Sunday Blog Share: I Will Have Played My Part

I Will Have Played My Part

by Kevin Cooper

 

I was carried in a womb

Born in a place

Built upon a street

In a town

Of a shire

In my country

A kingdom

On an island

Broken away from a continent

Of this world

This solar system

Belonging to a galaxy…

 

(Continue Reading: I Will Have Played My Part)

The Rose Shield: Catling’s Bane goes Live!

Many of you have read the character introductions and heard me going on and on about getting this book ready. Well, that’s all in the past now as Catling’s Bane is live on Amazon!

Catling’s Bane is currently .99 cents 

Books 2-4 are available for preorder

Available in print too (here)

Many thanks to all those who read, commented, and encouraged me with your kind words over the past two years. Special thanks to my writer’s critique group and to an awesome bunch of beta readers who helped me with the final spit and polish.

The blurb

In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.

To the Influencer’s Guild, she’s an aberration, a threat. They order her death and thus the betrayals begin. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield to further imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner? 

The Rose Shield Series – A blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Welcome to a world of three moons, a sentient landscape, rivers of light, and tier cities that rise from the swamps like otherworld flowers. A planet of waterdragons, where humans are the aliens living among three-fingered natives with spotted skin. Where a half-blood converses with the fog and the goddess plans her final reckoning.

Follow Catling’s journey as she grows from childhood into the deadly force that shapes the future. She is the realm’s shield, an influencer, assassin, healer, mother, and avenger. And all she wants is to go home.

The books of The Rose Shield Tetralogy
(Global Links)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

Pinky the Cat’s First Blog Post

This is me looking debonair. I’m a boy cat. I don’t know why they named me Pinky.

Pinky the Cat here.

E*en though I’m a cat, I’m a big fan of Danny the Dog who blogs down in Florida on Andrew’s boat.  If a dog can blog, why not a cat, right? Cat’s Rule! (I said that just because Danny thinks that dog’s rule.)

I’d almost gi*en up on blogging, and then this morning, I got my chance. This is my first post, and I need to type fast. My human, Diana, usually hogs the laptop, and I miss out on telling the world about my ad*entures. She’s not ha*ing a good day, so this is my chance.

Where is she? What happened to her? Well, that’s an interesting story.

As you might imagine, I am her greatest inspiration and most conscientious writing partner. While her muse is out gala*anting in the forest, I’m here sitting on her keyboard and practically telling her what to write. I also keep her warm.

Another thing I do is keep her healthy. If it wasn’t for me, she’d sit in her recliner all day without a break. I ha*e numerous strategies, all tried and true and 100% effecti*e. For one, I bite her when I want her to feed me. She doesn’t like that at all, but she feeds me anyway because she adores me and doesn’t want me to star*e while she finishes “one more chapter.”

Here, I’m helping with editing

Also, e*ery hour or so, I go outside through the cat door, run around the house, and scratch on the window screen until my claws get stuck. I do this rain or shine so she can play the hero and rescue me. It’s good for her self-esteem.

Finally, I shred anything made out of wood. Diana and I li*e in a log cabin so there’s a lot of wood to shred. She puts me outside and then I run around and scratch on the screen. Keeping humans healthy is hard work.

But back to my story about where she is.

When I’m keeping her warm, she can’t resist patting me. Who could? I’m soft and I purr. I know how to play to the audience. Naturally, my handsome pink hair gets all o*er her laptop. She wipes it off, but, occasionally, so much pink hair gets under the keys that some of them stop working. She gets out the *acuum cleaner hose and *acuums her laptop keys. Sometimes, that isn’t enough, so she pops off the keys, picks out the hair, and snaps the keys back on. That usually does it.

You might wonder why she goes to all this trouble, but I am irresistible. Enough said.

Well, yesterday, a particular key wasn’t working, so she pried it off. She cleaned out my hair and popped the key back on. I don’t think she paid enough attention because she didn’t click it back on all the way. This morning, she used the *acuum cleaner. And you can guess what happened. Yup, the *acuum sucked up the key! You should ha*e heard her curse.

So, right now, she has the kitchen floor co*ered in plastic and she’s dissecting the *acuum cleaner bag looking for her little black key. She’s making a bigger mess than I e*er make. I think it’s almost time for a new laptop.

Thanks for reading my first blog post. Uh oh, here she comes. Where’s that publish button? There it is!

Sunday Blog Share: My Midnight

My Midnight

by Richard Ankers

She bathed in the waters of the midnight sea unlit by the vibrant moon. Mysterious in her dark allure, she radiated a misting shade far beyond that of the night. An ebony presence outlined by rivulets of flowing stars, her slender figure slipped through the surf in silence. Even the sea gods shied from touching so divine a darkness. Her purity demanded it…

Continue Reading: My Midnight

The Rose Shield – Kari’s Reckoning

Catling’s Bane, the first book in The Rose Shield tetralogy is nearing the finish line, and unless some unforeseen computer meltdown halts all progress, it should be out… next week!

The rest of the books are slogging their way through my list of double-checks including Book 4: Kari’s Reckoning. Below is a little snippet. I took out the important names – so no hints (and a few extra pronouns). Stay tuned.

Kari’s Reckoning

He carved woads into his own skin, scored his cheeks and hairline, sliced grooves into his chest and arms. He notched his ears and slashed his shoulders and thighs. Blood ran down his legs and arms, dripped from his chin and fingers. He flayed Guardian’s dagger from his forearm and would have found another place to carve if Lian hadn’t ripped his knife from his hands and flung it into the forest.

The Farlander heaved him up and carried him to the pond. The water glowed and whirled, rich with luminescence. He staggered into the freezing fluidity and lay down, sinking beneath the surface. The light retracted and surged back, clung to his skin, and burrowed into his flesh. His wounds burned. Luminescence swirled with his blood, entered his veins, and lit him like a brand. He rose for a breath and sank again, eyes open, his vision filled with divine brightness.

The world spoke to him, not with words but emotion, an ancient message extending back through eternal time. His blood leached out, blending with the planet’s soul, every fiber connected across the land and water and air, the living and dead. The world drew on his life, tasted its richness, and integrated him into the pattern. Life surged around him and exploded into him, unstoppable and larger than he and those he lost, all of them forever part of the whole. The sensation was love, but not the feeling of love. All the emotions, fear and sadness, joy and pleasure, anger, and passion blended into the rich and poignant elixir of life.

He gasped for breath and floated, his irises reflecting the three moons and a night drowned in stars. The fire in his veins abated and the sting in his wounds faded. The owl called its lonely song. He closed his eyes and rested in the cold light.

Next Week!

Writing Chapter One – Tips

chapter-one-tips

I’ve wanted to write about first chapters for a while, primarily because they’re so important. After all, they’re the gateway to Chapter 2 and getting a reader to Chapter 2 is a fantastic idea.

I did some research and almost instantly the rule-resistant rebel in me kicked in. She’s the writer who scowls at formulas, who insists that form has to fit the story, not the other way around. She’s the reader who doesn’t want to read the same story over and over with different titles.

Well, I suppressed the first-born smarty-pants part of my personality and learned a few things.

First, I learned that there are actually a number of perfectly legitimate types of first chapters. Writer’s Digest has a great article by Jeff Gerke that describes 4 approaches with examples (summarized here):

  • The Prolog – A prolog is an episode that pertains to your story but does not include the hero (or includes the hero at a time well before the story proper begins, when he’s a child). It might not be “Chapter 1” per se, but it can serve as a legitimate opening—if it works.
  • The Hero Action Beginning – In a hero action beginning, the hero is onstage, doing something active and interesting related to the launching of the core story (it need not involve explosions and car chases, but it certainly can).
  • The In Medias Res Beginning (in the middle of things ) – With in medias res, you start at a point deep in the story, show a bit of activity to intrigue the reader, and then you hit the rewind button and spend some or all of the rest of the book catching up to that moment.
  • The Frame Device – The final major way of beginning your first chapter is to use a frame device. In this, your story is bookended on the front and back (and usually a few instances in the middle) by a story that is outside the main story. The primary tale is framed by this other story.

With that out of the way, I went in search of tips that apply to Chapter 1’s regardless of the book, tips that I could apply as I conceive of, write, and edit my stories. As usual, there are exceptions to these tips, and the list is not exhaustive.

Context: Backstory, Setting, and Detail

  • Avoid backstory. Include the bare minimum necessary and trickle the rest in as needed.
  • Don’t overdo setting. Give a smattering of strong, vibrant details to establish a sense of place and time. Then fill in the rest later as the story unfolds.
  • Connect the character to the setting so it isn’t just a backdrop. You might show how the character interacts with the setting.
  • There’s no need to skimp on details that serve the story. If your story is about snipers, give sniper details. Make sure they’re sharp and interesting. Avoid being vague. Write tight!

Structure: Theme, Mood, and Plot

  • Start the book as late in the story as you can. Does your story still work if you start with Chapter 2? If so, Cut chapter 1.
  • Write a great first line. A great first line grabs the reader’s interest.
  • The theme is the argument that the story is making. The first chapter should hint at theme.
  • Establish your mood. Ask yourself how you want the reader to feel while reading the book.
  • Think of every chapter as a short story with a mini-plot and conflict, especially Chapter 1.
  • Avoid telegraphing. Let the immediacy of the action carry the chapter to the end. Keep your pov tight.

 Character

  • Most writing experts will recommend introducing your protagonist in the first chapter. Some recommend introducing your antagonist as well. Avoid opening with other characters talking about the main character.
  • Make your reader care about your character. How is the character at risk?
  • Have your character engaged – active versus passive.
  • Not absolutely necessary, but dialog is a great way to reveal character, and conflict and manage pace.

Conflict

  • Have some sort of conflict – physical, emotional, or mental. Conflict disrupts the status quo. Conflict is drama and it’s interesting.
  • You don’t need to spell out the stakes for the entire book in chapter one, but hint at why the conflict matters.
  • A note on action: Rip-roaring action might be fun, but it’s best if the reader cares about the character. Without an investment in character and context, an action scene can feel shallow.

Hooks

  • End your first chapter and each chapter with a moment of mystery, an introduction of conflict, or a twist of the tale. It doesn’t have to be a huge one; it just needs to be intriguing enough to propel the reader forward.
  • Mystery. While action needs context, one of mystery’s strengths is that it makes the reader wait for context. It’s okay not to explain everything. At the same time, mystery does not equal confusion – find the balance.

Happy Writing!