Falling Moon

falling-moon

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

Pieter Bruegel

Pieter Bruegel

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 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… 🙂

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! 🙂 )

What it feels like to ride a Dragon

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The meadow sings with crickets and dragons, swarms of bees and seeds on white wings. You wade into the blue-eyed grass, a waterless sea of larkspur, speedwell and mountain everlasting. Breathe the fragrance of a windless day when the energies of earth, water, and sky crackle in the air.

In the cloudless currents, dragons dip and roll with the grace of swallows. Silken wings billow, dyed by a blushing sky, light as windswept sails. The waning sun glints on scales of emerald and seafoam, coral and moonstone.

You know what to do.

Present to your perceptions, shutter your eyes and breathe until the rhythm of your heart entrances. The dark and stale corners empty, willing you to release the mind and be one, indistinguishable from the world. You call the dragons down.

A breath of wind whispers across your lashes. Risk a glance. The aimless whirl of wings transforms into a weaving dance of muscle, sinew, heart and soul.  Dragons ride the sky in undulating waves, a vortex swirling down to the mountain’s flowered sea.

Be still, a pillar of stone as the great dragons descend. A flurry of wings paints the air in hues of topaz, amethyst, and green tourmaline. Crescent scales shimmer like watercolor moons.

Wary, you exhale, mindful of those that huff and hum around you, sharing the air as if you’ve vanished into the breathing, living landscape. A dappled dragon rears before you. Wings of abalone sweep the sky. You do not falter, but surrender and approach.

Fingertips glide over the webbing’s hollow bones and brush pearly scales, bestirred by the softness. The long neck curves and cloud-gray eyes peer into you, a soul freed of fear. The dragon lowers a wing, the long-awaited invitation.

You open like a whisper, and in that pause between your heartbeats, at the precise point when the inhale becomes the exhale, the dragon slides  beneath your skin. Light streams into your heart. Particles of life that once comprised your body merge in tender intimacy with the world, and your essence radiates beyond your flesh, blood, and bones. You are luminous, sunlight and stardust, one with the dragon’s soul.

Stepping softly, you rise over the sleek back. Wings unfold beneath you, flowing and flaring outward as the last rays of day span the wilderness. They drum the petaled sea, and as one, you ascend, chasing the sun that rolls over the horizon. You lift your face and raise your arms for you too have wings and song and soar.

The dragon spirals higher, neck craned, eyes glistening in the golden glow of twilight. Wings fanned back, you fly faster, picking up speed, letting the world pull you around, faster, the wind singing in your ears. You sweep past forests of jagged giants, crest the snow-cowled peaks, and soar over the thorny rose that rims the craggy shore. Your heart surges as you sail over the wind-worn sea, embracing the utter boundlessness of flight, the freedom of the wing, the spinning of the world hurling you forward and slinging you into myth.

That’s what it feels like to ride a dragon.

Adapted from Myths of the Mirror – Re-release in August

The Child’s Moon

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Pixabay image by Mysticartdesign

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.

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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.

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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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.”

Writing Violence

 

andrik_the_unsmiling_by_tikos-d5hpkb4As writers, we often create characters with whom we have little in common. They believe, do, and say things that we would never contemplate, EVER.

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.

witcher_by_r_3h-d6j89tuA 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.

dragon_castle_by_mistgodI 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.

Since then?

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.

Communal_Violence_by_deviousdestinyWe 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.

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