Word Craft Poetry “Dreams”

A few days ago, Colleen Chesebro announced the winners of the Word Craft Poetry Syllabic Poetry Contest held to honor the Summer Solstice. The theme was dreams, and poets were instructed to use the syllabic form “tanka prose.” This form combines short prose with a 5-line tanka poem (with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7).

I was delighted and honored that my poem “Am I Dreaming?” came out on top. I’m grateful to the judges for their selection and to Colleen for continually encouraging all of us to learn and write poetry. She’s a whirlwind of energy and creativity.

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Please take a moment to pop over to Word Craft Poetry to read the other top poems, written by Ken Gierke, Merril D. Smith, and Jude Itakali. Not only is their poetry beautiful, but it shows off the depth and versatility of the form and the enormous talent in our writing community.

And if you feel inspired, join in Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenges. They’re great fun. Happy Writing!

The Necromancer’s Daughter: Joreh

Joreh Graeger

Joreh is the last of my trio of main characters. You’ve met Barus and Aster. Joreh is my reluctant protagonist. The poor guy is riddled with ambivalence. I make all my characters suffer, but Joreh is the least sure of his convictions, and he more than the other characters will be forced to make the difficult choices between justice, faith, and love.

Below is a little snippet from his first POV chapter. I hope you enjoy it.

***

Lanterns lit the watchtowers, and guards held up the gleaming gold haloes in the rising squall. The bonfire in the square hissed and thrashed like a demon in iron chains, and Joreh longed to stand before it and forget the girl. The caravan had departed, and the square lay empty as residents sheltered in their homes. The woodsmen headed for the tavern.

He glanced at Aster, impatient for instructions. She waited in the blowing snow for him or whatever would befall her next. Three stiff-backed soldiers approached from the barracks. At the same time, the inn’s door swung open and several brothers of the Red Order descended the steps, his father in the lead.

She stepped back, but surrounded by men from the outpost, she lacked anywhere to run. Joreh grabbed her arm. She shook in his grip, and any strength or confidence he’d witnessed during their short trek vanished. What little color rosied her cheeks drained from her face, and her eyes sought his, white-rimmed with panic. His father terrified her. How did she even know him?

“Well done, Joreh. I’d assumed we’d lost her. How fitting that you’re the one to deliver her to the Blessed One’s justice.” His father clapped him on the back and gestured to a soldier. “Secure her in a cage.”

Her gaze flitted to the dangling cages, and Joreh grimaced, wishing they could get this over with, quietly and honorably, without the displays of intimidation. If they locked her in a cage, she’d freeze to death before morning. He drew a knife from his wide sash and cut the bindings on her wrists, eager to follow the woodsmen into the tavern. “It’s too cold in the cages. Lock her up inside or chain her in the stable.”

She rubbed blood into her strangled hands and edged nearer to him as if he held the key to her salvation. He possessed no such thing. Nor did he want it.

His father looked down his nose at her. “She doesn’t require coddling. She’s dead. And if there’s any question, come morning, we’ll hang her.”

“She hasn’t been tried.” Joreh scraped a hand over his scowl. “You can’t execute her without the goddess’s judgment.”

His father raised an eyebrow. “Oh, my son, watch me. The Blessed One requires no trial for this one. She’s far from innocent. Her very existence is a testament to evil.” He grabbed the collar of her cloak and yanked her toward the fire. She cried out, writhing like a wild thing as she fumbled with the clasp.

Joreh staggered after them. Would his father throw her into the flames? That he even asked himself such a question dismayed him.

The cloak’s brooch popped. Aster dropped to the mud, and the vicar tossed the garment into the fire. He beckoned to the soldiers. “Take her to the cage.”

Joreh gritted his teeth as his father eyed him, daring him to utter a challenge. Two soldiers lowered a wooden cage. A blade prodded her to the cell, and she stumbled inside. She gripped the wooden bars as the rope drew taut through its pulley and lifted her prison, swaying and creaking, into the air. Snow fell through the bars unimpeded. Joreh stamped his frozen feet as the woman curled into the cage’s corner, too far from the fire to feel its warmth. Wrapped in his cloak, he trailed his father into the inn.

Thanks for dropping by and reading!

The Necromancer’s Daughter: Aster

With a book launch on the horizon, I’ve started introducing my three main characters. This is Aster, a young woman who was born dead and resurrected by Barus, the necromancer. He’s raised her as his own, and though he’s warned her away from dragons… she can’t find it in herself to be afraid.

I hope you enjoy this (slightly modified) snippet introducing Aster.

***

As it always did, the tide of emotion started as a trickle of anticipation at the base of Aster’s spine. The swelling excitement flowed into her chest, and her fingers tingled. It spread over her skin and rushed into her face. The feelings belonged to the dragon, not to her, but she’d become accustomed to the foreign sensations thrumming through her bones.

The dragon whooshed up the cliff into the ether, nearly knocking her from her feet. Whipped-up wind thrust her grandmother’s blue shawl open, and it flapped from her shoulders like a fledgling’s untested wings. Her fine white hair whirled with the blowing snow. Though she’d expected the creature’s striking entrance, she laughed in surprise.

The beast’s leathery wings angled for a spiraling descent far above her head. Sunlight shone through the webbing, enhancing the mottle of silver and black. She’d encountered this one many times before and raised an arm to wave. “Come down. I’m not afraid.” Would it finally heed her call? A gift for her eighteenth awakening day?

A scar striped the dragon’s snout, jagged as a thunderbolt. Its long neck arched, ruby eyes gleaming as its head dipped toward her, jaws agape. Curved incisors glinted in the raw light, and the serpentine tail snapped at the frozen stalks of asters quivering in the wind.

Barus had told her, long ago, to hide behind a tree and make herself small, and for years, she’d obeyed his wishes. But no more. If the dragon meant to terrify her, it had failed every time. She trusted her instincts, knew to her core that the creature wouldn’t shred her to pieces or whisk her away in its teeth.

But what about an apple?

She reached for the armor of scales as the massive body undulated above her, its back bristling with spikes, clawed feet sweeping the air just beyond her fingertips as she held an apple aloft. The beast circled, rising higher.

“Come down,” she teased, giving the wrinkled fruit a toss. “I brought an apple for you.”

The dragon’s wings swept back, and it dove from the cornflower sky. Aster shrieked and flung the apple. The toothsome jaws snapped the fruit from the air, and she laughed with delight.

As though in answer, the beast bellowed a cry and plummeted beyond the cliff’s wall. Aster darted to the edge as the dragon’s wings unfurled, capturing the wind with the ripple and snap of a galleon’s sails. The colossal beast skimmed the gray sea, flying for the Isles of White Sands glimmering like a mirage on the horizon.

As the drumming of wings surrendered to the waves’ roar, another sound assumed its place. The voices of men.

***

Thanks for reading!

Interview with Yvette at Priorhouse

Yvette Prior at Priorhouse kindly offered me a chance to do a mini-interview on her blog. Of course, I snapped it up, and it’s live today. If you have a chance, stop by to say hi. See you there.

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Hello Readers,

Today I am sharing “TEN Questions with an Author” featuring D Wallace Peach.

📚

Some long-time followers of this blog might know that I startsd the Priorhouse Interview series back in 2015-2016Ish – and managed to do a handful of interviews (mostly yoga teachers) and then in 2021, I decided to put more of a focus on it (thanks in part to Marsha  @alwayswrite).
Also, to get momentum, I scheduled monthly interviews ahead of time (and next month – July 2022- we have author Robbie Cheadle – here – so hope to see you back for that).

Another thing that helped the interview series was doing some unplanned interviews that unfolded on their own- like with  Paul Lucas from the Mariner’s Museum (here) and like this mini interview today.

D Wallace Peach, DWP,  has a new book coming out in August and that was one of the reasons for this mini interview post.  I also had a blog insight for authors and wanted to share that as well (see #5)

#1

Can you tell us about the new book being released in August 2022? And thanks for doing this interview here at Priorhouse.

DWP:

Thanks for having me over for a mini-interview!  And thanks for the fun questions with a chance to jump up and down about a new book!

(Continue to Priorhouse Blog)

Cover Reveal: The Necromancer’s Daughter

I’m not exactly sure what happened.

You see, I wrote this book and didn’t tell anyone.

I mean, what was the hurry? I planned to release it on September 1st, which seemed

so

far

away…

Then I looked my calendar and almost fainted. September is right around the corner!

With that in mind, I’m delighted to share the cover to my latest story:

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.

~***~

Thanks so much for taking a peek at the cover. And thank you to all the kind bloggers who offered to help with my tour. The schedule will be quite full for which I’m delighted and grateful! ❤

A Readers’ 12-Step Program #TBR

Thanks to everyone who took the time to write and read responses to the TBR story challenge. I’m delighted to share my offering. I hope you enjoy the story. Happy Reading!

Readers Anonymous: A 12-Step Program

I have a book problem. Check. First step done in my 12-step program.

Sucking in a breath, I push through the library’s wooden doors, ready to deal with my kindle addiction. The fluorescent lights shine on colorful shelves and comfy chairs, and I resist the temptation to browse. Some of the titles pop from the spines as if sprinkled with magic dust. The covers of fantasy books attract my eyes like lodestones. Down by my ankle, my Kindle tugs on my jeans and whispers, “Just read the blurb. Do it, do it, do it.”

I drop my gaze to the chubby little pest and shake my pant-leg loose of its grip. “No. We’re here to deal with your insatiable appetite. This has to stop.” My stubborn kindle digs his claws into my right boot, and I march to the meeting room in the back, dragging him across the worn carpet with every other step.

The room is almost bare of distractions. Someone with foresight covered the bookshelves with mismatched tablecloths. Four folding chairs form a circle, occupied by four women with a variety of e-book readers, every one of the devices glowering in defiance. The women look harried, and they scooch over to make room for one more chair.

They start introducing themselves.

Shelley smiles broadly and goes first. She’s in her twenties, a sales rep, who knew she had a problem when she started reading thrillers while stopped at traffic lights. Getting rear-ended propelled her into the group. She thinks she’ll be ready to move on after a few more meetings, but her e-reader squirms on her lap like a hungry toddler in a candy store, ready to raid the chocolate bars.

The woman to Shelley’s left rolls her eyes. She’s Mildred, a middle-aged reader of horror and a voracious fan of Clive Barker and Stephen King. She keeps her pudgy Kindle on a leash, which she’s tied to her chair. The growling beast has finished off a jar of red herrings, and Mildred ignores the thing as it shreds the corner of the carpet with its serrated teeth. “I keep him in a locked cage at home,” she says as if she’s kicked the habit.

“But, dear, you haven’t removed his internet access,” the next lady points out. “He’s sneaking anthologies.” Harriet is about ninety, sitting primly in a black coat and lace-up boots. The flattened hat on her gray head sports a flurry of raven feathers. She’s a life-long reader of Gothic romances.

When it’s Harriet’s time to fess up, she sighs dramatically. “My switch from hardcovers to paperbacks initiated an inevitable slide down the slippery slope into ebooks, and I’ve become addicted to having books at my fingertips.” Her kindle swoons into her leg and bats its eyelashes seductively. She frowns and locks the things between her heels.

“I like the instant gratification too,” I admit. “As soon as I finish a book, I like starting a new one.”              

The next lady in the circle pats my knee and snaps her gum. “We all do, dear. I’m Greta. I’m a sci-fi binger.” She dresses like she’s going to a dance club the minute the meeting adjourns. She crosses her legs, and her spikey heel whacks her battered tablet flat onto its cover. She scoops up the pot-bellied blimp and sits it on her lap. “I put the thing on a diet. You know… buy one, read two.”

The other women nod knowingly, including me.

“Then, I’ll have one of those days. You know the kind.” Greta huffs. “We just fall off the wagon and start buying trilogies, and suddenly I’ve lost months of progress.”

Mildred rolls her eyes. “I told you not to sign up for Kindle Unlimited.”

“But it’s such a good deal,” Shelley pipes in. Her e-reader squirms from her lap and waddles to the door leading to the stacks. He collapses and starts wailing.

“And that’s what you end up with.” Mildred cants her head toward the tantrum.

“Try to ignore him,” Shelley whispers.

His misery is hard to overlook, but it’s my turn. “Well, I’m Diana, and I’ve noticed that my kindle is growing a paunch. I know there are people with nearly a thousand books, and I’m not that bad yet…” All four of them suddenly look everywhere but at my face. “But I have months’ worth of reading that I’ll never get to, and it’s only getting worse.” My greedy little Kindle grumbles and snivels until I stuff it in my bag and close the zipper. “It doesn’t stop. It’s insatiable.”

“They lack restraint,” Harriet says. “Too much passion and desire.”

“Never a dull moment though.” Mildred gives the leash a tug, and her kindle gnashes its teeth. “Save it for when we get home,” she mutters, and it plops down on its haunches and glowers.

Greta unwraps another piece of gum and pops it between her scarlet lips. “I’ll admit, I can’t remember the last time I was bored. I just finished the best book, my favorite this year. I’d definitely recommend it.”

“Oooh,” Shelly hurries to the door and grabs her e-reader. It quits hollering and gurgles at her. “What’s the title?”

“Shelly!” Mildred frowns. “No new books!”

Shelly stops short and pouts as she takes her seat. “But… it’s Greta’s favorite.”

“I read an excellent romance mash-up by an indie author.” Harriet’s face lights up. “It had the perfect blend of thrills and lust.”

“Gah!” Shelley looks stricken. Her e-reader drools on her hands.

I give her a commiserating smile. I want to hear about the books too. Just the sound of a great title makes me want to snuggle up with my roly-poly Kindle and read. I unzip my bag and let the poor starving porker out. It climbs onto my lap, looking morose. The group sits silently for a moment, both ladies and e-readers. The steam’s run out of our meeting.

“I don’t know if this group is the right fit for me,” I say.

Shelley tucks her hair behind her ear. “It is kind of depressing.”

“There’s a degree of hopelessness.” Harriet’s lips pinch as the brightness in her face dims.

Greta gazes down at her tablet. “I never liked book-diets. They’re just fads. They never work.”

Mildred draws in a resigned breath, and her gaze pins me to my chair. “Do you have any ideas as to how we can make our group function better?”

“Actually, I do.” I smile at the ladies. “How about we turn it into a book club?”

Unknowable: #TankaTuesday

Image Credit: Kerfe Roig

This poem is my attempt at a crapsey cinquain for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday. It’s inspired by Kerfe’s visual art above.

~

Unknowable

starlight

stitched in patterns

weaves a vast universe

deciphering the mystical

with faith

~

I’m on the road, hiking around here:

File:Shasta At Night (258050167).jpeg
Mount Shasta. Credit: Dheera Venkatraman, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, I may be a bit delayed with comments and visits. But I’ll catch up. Thanks for stopping by!

Tea Toast & Trivia Podcast

I had the wonderful experience recently of participating in a podcast interview conducted by Rebecca Budd. She made the entire process effortless and enjoyable, and she learned that I have no problem talking about writing and publishing!

If you have a bit of time, stop by at Tea Toast & Trivia to listen in on our conversation. And take a moment to browse her beautiful site. Here we go:

***

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you. 

I am delighted and thrilled that my blogger friend and writer, D Wallace Peach, has joined me on Tea Toast & Trivia for a discussion about writing, connecting, and engaging within the world of writing and publishing.  Diana is on my side of the world, just south of the Canadian Border.  She lives in a log cabin, situated on a mountain, with her husband, two owls and a horde of bats.  She has found a place of belonging, surrounded by evergreens in the lush, green wilderness of the Oregon rainforest.

I invite you to put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation on Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you for joining Diana and me on Tea Toast & Trivia.

(To listen to the podcast, please continue on to Tea Toast & Trivia...)

Meet the Author: D. Wallace Peach

I’m over at Jonny Pongratz’s blog today, Jaunts & Haunts. We’re chatting about super powers, blogging, writing, and books. If you have a minute, stop by and say hello. While you’re visiting, be sure to check out Jonny’s wonderful blog and sci-fi books.

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Good morning world!

Today I’m stopping by with the first author interview of 2021, and I’m having it with D. Wallace Peach, fantasy author.

I got to know her through other WordPress author friends late last year as well as GoodReads. She is currently celebrating the latest release in her trilogy Unraveling the Veil.

Welcome, Diana!

D. Wallace Peach

Bio:

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

The Interview

Hi Diana, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Here’s yours!
A spaceship comes crashing out of the sky into your backyard. As a last act of kindness, the alien is willing to bestow upon you any power you choose. What is your decision?

Diana: Hi, Jonny. Thanks for having me over at Jaunts and Haunts, and for the great questions. As I read through your options, I came to the conclusion that I’m a total scaredy cat! Lol. No chance that I’m going to time travel, walk through mysterious portals, battle zombies, or spend a lifetime fleeing demons. So, I went with the softball question above.

I’d request the power to heal through a mere touch. That would be most satisfying. I’d start with children’s hospitals and go from there. I’d be invading everyone’s personal space right and left. Strangers would be mortified at my touchy-feely friendliness, and I’d probably be told off a few times, but I wouldn’t care. And I’d keep my power a complete secret, so I wouldn’t have to run from nefarious characters and secret government agencies who’d want to capture me and control my talent.

Jonny: Thanks, and welcome! Haha, no worries about going the more peaceful route. Many of the potential situations I came up with are kinda scary. 

I love your choice of power. That’s very selfless of you, and I think this world could use the healing now more than ever, even if you’re knocking down doors saying “Hey, I’ve got a bone to pick with your medical condition. Let me in!” Good choice to lay low. Superheroes may sound great on paper, but I think people would covet that ability of yours and things may take a turn for the worse. 

Today I’m gonna go escapist and wish for multiplicity. I’d multiply myself several times over to do things like work and run errands, while the true me would just sit back and relax. Of course, I’d take turns to ensure the other me’s are content, but life would be such a breeze! 

Diana and the Writing Process

(Continue reading at Jaunts & Haunts)

I closed comments here (late – oops). 😀 See you at Jonny’s.

A visit from the bossy muse, a free book, and a couple of awards

The muse’s latest look (pixabay compilation)

Way too early in the morning, my muse drops down beside me on my couch and tosses her hat onto the coffee table. The howler monkey that’s been riding her shoulder for a year leaps onto my kitchen counter, curls back its rubbery lips, and flashes a yellow-toothed grin. The muse hands me a latte. “Nice progress on the draft… finally.”

“Thanks.” I’m still leering at the monkey but manage to sip my latte. Yum. “So, why the visit?  You know I’m under NaNo pressure.” I somehow forget to mention that yesterday I logged zero words.

She arches an eyebrow but for once shrugs off her annoyance. “I’m running a promotion for a couple of days. Catling’s Bane is free today and Wednesday. Your sales blah blah blah…” I’m not listening. The howler’s opened my refrigerator and taken a bite from a head of lettuce. He’s going for the orange juice.

I bolt up. “Hey! Out of there!” The beast roars at me, a sound capable of bursting eardrums. He grabs a tuna sandwich I made for my husband’s lunch, darts across the cabin’s single room, and climbs halfway up the stairs. Suspended from the banister, he gobbles and spills bits of sandwich on the furniture below. UGH. I sink back onto the couch and glower, afraid any further intervention will make it worse.

“What else,” I ask, wanting to get this over with as quickly as I can.

She smiles at me. My muse never smiles. “Two of your books were semi-finalists in the 2019 Kindle Book Awards.”

“What?” I’ve now forgotten all about the howler and the globs of tuna sprinkling my floor. I’d also forgotten that I submitted books. “Both of them?”

Sunweilder and Soul Swallowers.” She tips back her latte, stands, and snaps her fingers at the monkey. Not two seconds later, the creature swings from the banister onto her shoulder. My muse heads for the door, her familiar bossy ill-humor sliding onto her face. “Get to work.”

“I plan on it. After I clean up this mess.” As she walks out the door and into the forest, I call after her, “Hey, if I finish my first draft, can we lose the monkey?”

She glances back and slips me an evil smile.

***

I guess the muse’s visit could have gone a lot worse.

Click on the cover if you’re interested in a free kindle of Catling’s Bane:

 

And here are those semi-finalists:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Writing!