Colleen Chesebro (aka the Fairy Whisperer) has been making quick work of a few of my books and has penned some wonderfully heartfelt reviews. Myths of the Mirror was my first born, and I couldn’t be more delighted that she found my baby beautiful. Ha ha. Here’s her review. ❤
In my fantasy world, the Falling Moon welcomes a world of pattering rains and burnished leaves fluttering in brisk winds. The wilderness twirls and tumbles and the forest floor blazes in a coverlet of color. The land softens and patchworks of umber and gold quilt the hillsides. It’s a time of frosted breath and morning ice, of warm fires and falling light.
The Falling Moon shines over the world on October 16th
Excerpt from Eye of Fire, Dragon Soul Quartet (Book II)
That night the travelers celebrated their safe arrival with the village. Lamb sizzled on spits over two cookfires in Phelan’s trampled gardens, and the women of Taran Leigh served the season’s last greens, seeded bread, and tart pies sweetened with clover honey. The men uncorked jugs of dark ale and passed them around the gathering, making for a jovial evening.
Taran Leigh’s cooper carted in a drum fashioned from an old cask and settled his bulk near the cookfire’s light. He thumped a rhythm as steady as a heartbeat as Torin brandished his wooden flute. The pair of them played a tune for the village, for the food and ale, for the fire’s embrace, for the freedom and Belonging spilling from the sky like starlight. Ceridwen sang, and the villagers joined in as if their songs too would break free of their bodies and soar. Conall hugged Treasa to his side and pointed up. Earlin raised her eyes to the night. The moon hovered, as round and shimmering and close to a golden coin as any of them would ever need.
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.
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… 🙂
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:
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! 🙂 )
In my fantasy tales, the Child’s Moon ushers in a warm world. The land reawakens and whirls into bloom, spattering its treasure of color with an untamed brush. Promises of summer ripeness push through the soil, and markets open on the cobbled squares with honeyed milk and leafy hope. Those who survived the hungry moons molt their winter skins and bare their faces to the sun.
It’s a moon of roses, of bare feet, of rooting for wild strawberries, and newborn lambs bleating on unsteady legs. The Child’s Moon is the eternal reminder that all of life travels in cycles, that death and birth go hand in hand, that every winter finally rolls to an end.
The full face of the Child’s Moon rises tomorrow night on May 21.
Excerpt from the Child’s Moon, Eye of Sun, Dragon Soul Saga.
Branwen slipped to the bench. The grove spun, consciousness sliding from her skin. She fell from Yula’s white cliffs, terror overtaking her as she clung to her body, losing control. Let go, surrender, the world whispered in her ear, and she let go, unable to stop her fall, unable to sustain her struggle to know the unknowable, to understand the indecipherable mysteries of her life.
There in the garden, her body filled with light and broke apart, sifting into the colors and textures of the grove. She felt intact, her soul complete but without definition and form, merged into sap and soil, wind and water, fire and gold. The world abided, not virtuous or wicked, careful or neglectful. It bore no intent, no desire, no plan. A void, it reflected her infinite possibilities; the massive, unfolding power hers to do with as she willed. She heard the dragons’ calls above Eydis, Morgen’s echo inside her heart, Ena humming herself to sleep, Aedan whispering, soft lips against her cheek.
Alive with wonder, she gazed at her son, the light of him flowing through her and illuminating the grove. Her first love soared there with him, and she gathered him too in her heart, the soft drumbeat she’d lost to a winter gale. Darkness descended and yet the air flared, bright with flameless fire. The faces of love held her son and his father aloft, embraced them, their song filling her.
Little fire, starry light, guide me on my path tonight
On waves of dreams, as you sleep, ‘cross the seas, calm and deep
Farewell to troubles, lay them low, sing the seamaids, soft and slow
Little star, flame above, sail away the night, my love
Boundless and unfettered by fear, she expanded, flowing down the thousand steps like water to the sea, swaying across the waves. On the horizon where sea and sky merged, she beheld a wondrous world, smiled, and returned to find herself.
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.
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.”
Yet, like empaths, we submerge our hearts, bodies, and psyches in their lives. As they journey through the pages of our books, we experience their loves and fears, friendships and loathing, bravery and betrayals, times of great joy and desperate despair. This intimacy is one reason why writing violent scenes can be difficult.
A character’s view of and tolerance for violence (and sex, by the way) may be considerably different from our own. Violent choices, attitudes, and behaviors can easily push us beyond the borders of our comfort zones. How graphic we choose to be will depend partly on our intended audience, but also on our personal thresholds. It’s difficult to write a scene where a character contentedly partakes in a level of violence that makes us recoil, and not have our distress slip through.
In my previous career as a mental health counselor, I frequently worked with young women who were victims of abuse as children and teens. Violence took myriad forms and lefts indelible wounds on innocent souls. What I found hardest to bear was how difficult it was for them to break free of destructive patterns, to believe in their intrinsic worthiness and right to be tenderly loved. Happy endings and sweet love stories were fantasies that played out in the scripted world of television and movies. They weren’t real.
I wrote my first fantasy book, Myths of the Mirror, for them. It’s a non-violent story about acceptance, forgiveness, and the freedom that results from owning one’s life and braving new choices. It’s a story close to my heart, one I needed to tell.
My books have become increasingly violent. My most recent novel, The Bone Wall, is pretty darn grim (by my standards anyway). For a time, I wondered why I was writing this stuff. It’s not because I believe that fantasy lends itself to brutality or because I think violence sells. I’ve never written for pure marketability. My stories arise organically and are told the way I need to tell them.
We live in a dangerous world where the depth and breadth of violence continues to astonish me. Network news programs flash mere snapshots and move on. For to see it up close and personal, night after night, might depress us, or require us to speak and act, a possibility that raises the fearsome face of responsibility and choice.
Personally, I’ve experienced only glimpses of violence – in the stolen innocence and lost hope that surrounds me, and in the murder of my youngest brother, an event that still aches after twelve years. I’ve never fought in a war, suffered torture, witnessed executions, seen my neighbors slaughtered, or been sold as chattel, yet those horrors occur daily in our world.
Why? I pen my stories with as much truth as I can tolerate, and that includes violence. I try not to sugarcoat, to glorify, to pretend that violence doesn’t hurt or change those who encounter it as perpetrators or victims. If some readers find it too graphic, that’s okay. I’m willing to risk a scene or two (or more) of violence if it continues to raise the real-world question of why.
Lately there’s been some interest in the Trag. Originally his history was included in Myths of the Mirror, but space constraints took precedence and his little scene went the way of many others. I always loved his story though and saved it. Here it is:
By the time Treasa toddled into her second year, Mirah longed to acquire a small dragon. Captured in the balmy vales of the Tradelands, far across the western sea, little dragons lay beyond her means. Not a single family in the village could afford one. Yet, she set aside a copper or two when she found one to spare, feeling alternately hopeful and discouraged by her progress.
In the end, it was Wyn, who on a summer’s morning, filled her pockets with copper coins and shushed all objections. “It’s time you’re off to Riverglenn,” she said, taking Treasa in her arms. She handed Mirah a basket with brown bread and ripe plums wrapped in a soft cloth, then prodded her out the door, barely giving her time to hook the clasp of her cloak. With a sigh of both relief and resignation, Mirah set off south, knowing Wyn spoke the truth.
For a full day, she walked the narrow track through forests of fern, and wildflower meadows blooming with thistle, snapdragon, and wild rose. And when evening descended, she watched the lamplights of Riverglenn wink to life in the distance, stars on a blue silk horizon. Wrapped in her cloak, she rested deep in a field of tall grass and thought of Morfael, her heart’s desire. She understood why she needed this dragon. As if by holding it in her heart and hearth, she could regain a piece of the love she’d lost. Morfael’s legacy and Treasa’s birthright, a dragon connected her daughter to a dead father … however obliquely.
Her basket on her arm, she wound her foot-worn way through the cobbled squares of Riverglenn, a rambling patchwork of quaint homes, trellised gardens, and brightly adorned markets. She wandered past shops selling oddities she’d never before noticed: feathered cloaks and wind-wheels, hanging pots, and all sorts of plumed hats and curiously shaped shoes. She saw no merit in most of it and shook her head wonderingly at the trifles on which people wasted their copper. Unlike Dragons? She smiled at her senselessness, her pockets jingling with another woman’s coin.
The shop Mirah entered lay wedged between its larger neighbors, squat and narrow, its foul scent wrinkling her nose. The frowning proprietor stood behind a rough counter, his black cloak and broad-brimmed hat in better condition than the old man who’d donned them. A frighteningly jaundiced fellow with a brittle gray beard, he cast one steely eye at her, while the other slightly bluer version gazed loosely to her left. She allowed herself a brief glimpse and attempted to focus on the eye sizing her up.
Her gaze adjusted to the dim light and, she brushed away the sticky cobwebs lacing her hair. Six filigreed cages crowded the grimy front window and lined one wall on a low bench, each bearing a tiny winged dragon. The scales on two of the dragons appeared solid in color, the smaller one silver with emerald eyes, the other a russet jasper with black tufts sprouting from the tips of its ears. The other four dragons were dappled with watercolor scales flowing down their backs, wings mottled in the hues of dragonflies, living jewels set out to glitter in the sun. The dragons chirped, prooked, and hissed at her, snapping their tiny tails against the wire bars.
“Are they friendly?” she asked, worried that perhaps she’d made a mistake.
“They don’t know ya,” the man explained. “Take no time atall to get ‘em where they need be.”
With a sigh, she walked along the bench, peering into the cages. An exquisite amethyst dragon with green tourmaline wings drew her eye, strutting in its cage, webbed wings fanned as if well aware of its own beauty. With every step, the light from the front window glinted off the pale purple scales. “How much is this one?” she asked.
“She’s a keeper,” the old man said as he opened the cage and stuck a gnarled hand inside. The little creature hopped onto his wrist, and he drew the dragon out. It clung to his sleeve, webbed wings lifting and stretching as it searched for balance. It gazed at Mirah and blinked, its forked tongue flicking at the air. “She be about sixty silver.”
Mirah’s face flushed with embarrassment, disappointment, or foolishness, she couldn’t decide which one or whether all three tore at her heart. Her hands slipped into her pockets, clutching her fistfuls of copper. No need to count it, she hadn’t close to sixty silver coins. What had she been thinking?
The man’s gray eye seemed to track her thoughts. His arm back in the cage, he shook the stunning dragon loose and snapped the cage door shut. Craning his neck, he waved her toward the back. “This one here, ya can have for forty.”
The cage held the sleek jasper dragon with the black-tipped ears. Mirah wiggled a finger between the wires, and the dragon prooked at her, blinking its sunstone eyes. She would have purchased him, but she didn’t have forty silver coins either.
“He’s pleasant lookin’ in his own case,” the man added, seeming to sense her hesitation. “But that’s as low as I go.”
Her shoulders sagged and with nothing left to do or say, she thanked the shopkeeper and headed toward the door and her long walk home.
“Wait. Wait,” the grizzled man called, sinking down on a tall wooden stool by his plank counter. “Come back here.”
“I don’t have enough,” Mirah explained as she stood at the door.
The man dropped his gaze and shook his weary head. He slapped his hand on the counter. “Put it out,” he said, “and we see what ya got.”
“It’s not enough,” she repeated, heart-broken tears welling in her eyes.
The man’s steely eye softened. “Come on, come on.” He waved her over again. “Put it out. Down here. Come on.”
Her humiliation already as deep as it could burrow, Mirah sighed and walked to the rough counter. She dug in her pockets and pulled out every copper she carried, dropping them into a pitiful pile. The man inhaled a deep breath and adjusted his hat.
“You see?” she said. “It’s not enough.” Her fingers reached for the coin, ready to gather it up.
His knotted hand rose to stop. The old man silently counted the coin. “Thirty-two,” he concluded and rose from his stool. “Must be I’m gettin’ old,” he muttered and shuffled to the back of the shop. He pushed through a creaking wooden door.
Almost afraid to hope, Mirah waited.
The door squealed on its hinges, and the man returned with a small wooden crate that he set on the counter. She peered inside and beheld a sapphire and emerald dragon. Its sea-shaded scales glittered, deep indigos and jade-greens in waves over its back, falling to a pale sky blue underbelly.
“It got decent color,” the man said, “but it got a wreck wing. Never fly.” He lifted a withered wing, half the size of its healthy twin. “A tragedy,” the man added. “Don’t want ‘em, can’t sell ‘em. Yers if ya want ‘em.” He pushed the crate toward Mirah.
The tiny dragon flicked its tail and blinked. “Prook,” it chirped and then hissed ferociously at her, its forked tongue fluttering.
“I’ll take him,” she said with a determined smile. The dragon could have snapped off her fingertip and he’d still be hers. The remains of her bread stuffed in a pocket, she arranged the cloth in her basket into a comfortable nest and instructed the man to lower the creature into the folds.
The dragon stood unsteadily and flapped. “Akakak, akakak,” it barked, catching its good wing on the lip of the basket.
Mirah tucked the dragon in. “Stay there,” she cooed. Thanking the old man, she headed for the door.
“Wait there,” the shopkeeper called. “Yer coin.” His gnarled finger flicked the small pile on the counter. Mirah turned to face him, confused, afraid she’d misunderstood him. That was all she’d brought, she had nothing else to offer.
“I can’t sell ‘em,” the man repeated. “So take yer coin.” With a trembling hand, Mirah scraped the copper into a pocket, caught the man’s eye and began to cry at his kindness. He scowled and waved her away as if he’d endured enough compassion for one day. “See to yer tragedy,” he called as she stepped through the door into the sunlight, and so the Trag was named.