March Speculative Fiction Round-Up

pixabay image by Natan Vance

Wow! What a month of great stories! Thank you to everyone who participated. And to those who stretched their imaginations, Congratulations. ❤ Below is the round-up of all the March poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. As I posted a week ago, I’m on a mission to move my parents and all that entails. Therefore, I won’t have an April prompt for you. Stay tuned for May!

March Round-up

Solitaire – Darkness

Pensivity – Moon Child

Alexander De – The Zoo Keepers

Frank Prem – take me (to the moon)

Robbie Cheadle – Gaining Freedom’s Gate

Amanda Sayer – Clair de Lune

Charley – Internal Irony (see part 2 below)

Tom – Shadowlands

cosistories – Jo’Am and the Eclipse

Jackie – A Survival Guide

Carol – Trapped in the Moon’s Shadow

Sonia – City of Sand

L.T. Garvin – The Shadow City

Priscilla Bettis – Passover

Len – The Savior

Christina Ward – Vacant

Robert Goldstein – Trina: In the Land of Tall Thin Shadows

Jordy Fasheh – Bones in Time – Part III

Jessica Bakkers – Darkness and Terror

Ethan Eagar – Hunger

Jane Dougherty – Black Moon

Betul Erbasi – The Light

Sheron McCartha – Escape Velocity

Carol Forrester – No Light By This Moon

Sadje – The moon glow

Paula Light – Postcards from Afar

Scherezade Ozwulo – Sacrificial Lambs

Trent McDonald – Release Me

Steve Tanham – Song in the Street

Geoff Le Pard – Sun Block

Ritu Bhathal – The Day the Moon Began to Disappear

Kevin Parish – The Solo Dancer

The Dark Netizen – Hole

Sally Cronin – A moment of Alignment

Mimi – She would give them all the words, feelings, and blood that they needed

Louise Gallagher – He Walks Alone

Willow Willers – Apocalypse

Dorinda Duclos – The Last Eclipse

G. M. Cleary – Crocus

Tessa – Where’s the sunshine?

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch – The Moon Child

Eric – Freed

Anita – Strange Dimensions

Anneberly Andrews – A Young Concord

Balroop Singh – A Rising

Audrey Driscoll – Answering the Call

Adele Marie Parks – The Night has a Thousand Eyes

Louise Brady – Desert Eclipse

Suzanne – Eclipsed

Violet Lentz – The New Nephilim

Greg – An Email from Saint Zillow

Reena Saxena – Challenged

Barbara – Glitch

Jess – Her Dream

Michael Fishman – The Hunter

JP – Noemei

Brad – A Strange New World

HRR Gorman – Rappaccini’s Moon

Ka Malana – Veil Removal time: the hidden reality

Kerfe – Beyond Lines and Measures

Dawn – The Chosen One

Thea – The Solar Eclipse

Chelsea Owens – Crescent Illusions

Karen Dowdall – The Dark Side of the Moon

Venky – Nephthy’s Children

Hugh Roberts – The Porthole

Lynn Kim – Night Runner

Ederren – Walking Along

Pam Wight – His Path

Kelvin Knight – The Shadow Symphony

Virinchi – He is the One – A matrix story

D. Wallace Peach – left me behind

A couple of bloggers wrote more than one story! I didn’t have time to reblog these, but you might take a peek.

Charley – Internal Fires (see part 1 above)

Brad – Once Upon a Blue Moon

And a couple stragglers:

Miriam Hurdle – The Cage

Maje Mallon – The Ride

 

 

 

Diana’s March poem: you left me behind

pixabay image from Natan Vance

you left me behind

by D. Wallace Peach

 

you left me behind

because I was born in the barrio

in a shack by flooded rivers

in the dusty winds of drought

didn’t speak your tongue

or worship your god

the one who bade you

love the children

 

I am the meek

you left behind

because I toiled in cane fields

watched the dawn ripple through fish nets

over dying turquoise waters

tended my father’s reindeer

on the tundra’s barren crust

I bear no papers to witness my learning

my worth in coins or accounts

my worth in belonging

as a human being

I am too young, too crooked, too old

too homeless, too hungry

the wrong color emblazoned across my face

the wrong size, gender, ethnicity

the wrong way to love

to be

 

you needed a stranger to blame

and I am left behind

one who might have cured the ill

housed the poor

fed the hungry

ended your wars

lit a planet

and saved

you

left me behind

 

BOOK REVIEW: CATLING’S BANE

I’m still on a hiatus from blogland while I pack my parents’ belongings for a move into senior housing. I’m up to my shoulders in dust, mouse turds, back pain, and boxes.

Just before I left, Karen Dowdall was wonderfully sweet to post a review of Catling’s Bane on her blog. I’m delighted to share it here.  Thank you, Karen!

***

Catling’s Bane, Book 1 of the Rose Shield series, offers the reader an amazing journey into a world so believable that the characters seem to come alive on the page. This beautifully written science-fiction pulled me into a world that glitters with luminosity. The author reveals this world with descriptions so vivid, so rich in detail, that we forget completely, that it is a fictional world.

It is a civilization very different than our own, yet still, very much the same, with problems of great poverty, injustice, and cruelty, with one exception. There are strange powers of influence…

(Continue Reading via BOOK REVIEW: CATLING’S BANE)

Escape – #Writephoto

Image copyright Sue Vincent

Alue nudged the prison door open.

Dawn’s light dappled Glenglisun’s slender towers. The jade patina of jungle growth, of humidity, of misty warmth, swathed the city as if it were fashioned of ancient bronze. Spindly minarets blended into the soaring canopy, and its flowering arches belied the peril within its walls.

Naj crept past her. The goblin moved in a crouch, long limbs corded with muscle, his double-bladed glaive clasped by its wooden shaft. Alue’s breath clogged in her chest. Someone had slipped them a key, left the weapon. Someone had freed them, and yet she cringed at the possibility of arrows tracking them from the rooftops.

At the building’s end, Naj ducked to his right and vanished. She darted after him, hooked the corner, and smashed into Danian. The changeling grabbed her arm, steadying her, and she stifled a curse.

“Quiet,” he whispered. “Follow me.”

“I’m not following you anywhere.” She wrenched her arm from his grip. “You’re a liar and a thief.”

Danian closed the gap, his breath in her face, irises black with fury. She mirrored his glare until he swung away. “Your choice,” he growled and set off for the city’s high wall.

Naj paused. His yellow eyes narrowed to slits, and he studied her as if she were a new specimen of plant life. “Do not die for your stubbornness,” he warned and loped after the changeling.

The patronizing arrogance bristled, but so did the truth. Alue’s last choices had cost her more than her freedom. She raked back her froth of red hair, swallowed her indignance, and dashed after them.

Danian avoided the stone streets, escaping instead over a weave of dirt pathways. He halted in the shadow of one of the grass and mud homes. The wall loomed ahead, draped in a camouflage of leafy creepers. Guards idled by the stone columns flanking a filigreed gate, inattentive, but holding spears no less deadly.

“This way.” He made a short retreat and veered toward a cluster of aerial roots that a large banyan had suspended over the wall. Strangler figs twisted around them. A natural ladder. “We go over,” he whispered and scrambled up. Alue climbed without effort, relying on her elven agility, hands and feet finding easy holds. She jumped to the other side and waited for the goblin. Naj landed with a grunt.

Beneath the canopy, time stalled, the day cast in perpetual dusk. Birds squawked and howler monkeys roared. Danian ran ahead. Alue leapt between giant teaks but struggled through the lattices of vines that snagged her body and tripped her feet. Hands bloodied by a fall, she tried to rip the barriers aside, tempted to scream with frustration. How long until the changelings hunted them?

Naj drew her back. His glaive swung like a scythe, slicing through the tangled underbrush. It swept over her head in a terrifying arc, and a green snake thudded to her feet, severed in two.

“Do not kill here!” Danian ordered. “This is changeling territory. If you make a mistake—”

The snarl of a big cat silenced him, the sound chilling to the bone. And close. Naj spun, his glaive raised. Alue froze, the animal behind her.

“Don’t harm it,” Danian’s hand edged up toward the goblin’s weapon. He met Alue’s gaze. “And don’t move.”

Alue fought the agonizing urge to run, fear trembling through her limbs. She couldn’t bear the predator’s presence at her back. Slowly, she disobeyed, rotating, peering into the jungle’s green depth. A massive panther, a slick blackness smooth as starlit water, crouched amidst the mottled undergrowth, baring deadly fangs. A guttural growl rumbled from its throat as its muscles bunched.

Danian breathed in her ear, “Trust me.”

**

I’m cheating and sharing a bit of my WIP (still a first draft but edited so that it makes sense). This is in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt. I couldn’t pass it up.

Pricing Indie Books (& shameless promotion)

Mark Twain looking over a few of my books.

Pricing books is tough, especially for those of us who rely on our own efforts to market.

When I started writing, my overarching aim was to build a readership. I wanted to share my stories with the world, and as a result, every other goal took second place. Unfortunately, my dreams were quickly dashed. I had a publisher who controlled my prices and wasn’t willing to negotiate. The prices were high (in my opinion), and the publisher didn’t support giveaways or discounts. My sales were horrible. My entire royalty for my first year was $8.00. No one was reading my books.

After six titles, I canceled my contracts and indie-published all my books. Immediately, I lowered prices and ran routine giveaways. As I suspected, my readership grew, and though I was lightyears away from making a living as an author, my increased sales made up for the price drop. Slowly, steadily, those old dreams started to gain a little momentum.

But I haven’t raised my prices since, and they’re now priced below market. I hate the idea of raising them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the time has come. Not only do I need to pay for covers, publishing services, and advertising, but I want to support indie publishing as a legitimate source of books. One way to do this is to recognize that our work has value and price accordingly.

Before prices go up, I’m running a countdown deal today and tomorrow ($.99 per book March 2nd and 3rd) for anyone who might be interested in picking up a book or two or fifteen (Lol). After that, they’ll be priced more in line with the offerings of other indie authors.

Below is a “quick” list of my books (newest first) with blurbs and universal links to Amazon. In order to keep this… erm… short, for my 3 series, I’ve only displayed the cover and blurb for the 1st books.

I hope you’re intrigued.
And I sincerely appreciate every wonderful kindness I’ve received throughout my writing career. ❤

Happy Reading!

 

Soul Swallower 

When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness.

Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul.

When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head.

Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.

Book II: Legacy of Souls

***

Catling’s Bane

Catling – She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.

In the tiered cities of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pleasure and pain 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.

Until Catling’s eye becomes the shield that disrupts the influencer’s sway.

Born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her a unique ability, the means to remake a civilization. To the Guild, she an aberration, a threat, and they order her death. 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?

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.

Book II: Oathbreakers’ Guild

Book III: Farlanders’ Law

Book IV: Kari’s Reckoning

***

Sorcerer’s Garden

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

***

The Bone Wall

Blue light ripples and crackles as the shield walls fracture. The remnants of a doomed civilization stand vigil outside, intent on plunder and slaves, desirous of untainted blood to strengthen their broken lives. With the poisons, came deformities and powers, enhanced senses and the ability to manipulate waves of energy—lightbenders and fire-wielders.

For those who thrived for generations within the walls, the broken world looms, strange and deadly, slowly dying. While the righteous pray for salvation, Rimma prepares for battle, fueled by rage and blinded by vengeance. Her twin, Angel, bound to her by unbreakable magic, seeks light in the darkness, hope in the future, and love in a broken world.

***

Sunwielder

In a land on the brink of war, Gryff Worden finds his family slaughtered in his farmyard. Mortally wounded, he stumbles upon a timekeeper, an old woman of a foreign land who tracks the infinite paths of each life. She offers him a sunwield, a medallion that returns him to the critical choices that altered his life’s journey.

Now his story remakes itself through the sunwield, returning him repeatedly to moments of decision and death, his old life gone, the purpose of the medallion burning his chest forgotten. As he uncovers the power of the sunwield, new choices lead him on an epic journey through war, death, friendship, life, and love.

***

The Melding of Aeris

Generations ago, the realms fell to fire. The Burn–the only means of destroying a lush land so manipulated by man that while its crops sated hunger, they poisoned the flesh. Now the wilderness slowly reseeds, hard lessons learned through starvation, displacement, and poverty. What remains for nature’s tinkerers?

Pathway, the coveted distillation that enables the grafting of skin across species. The Sahls of the Sea Barrows meld spiral horns to their skulls, reptilian scale to their chests. They embed the razor teeth of sea-beasts in the bones of their forearms and replace the flesh on their backs with the pelts of wolves. Women of wealth adorn their bodies with serpent skin as elegant as black lace, tufted tails, and plumed feathers, their own skin cast off, no longer desirable.

Then they bear children…creatures like Aeris, a man who longs to be human.

Too late, he discovers the truth–there is only one source of human skin. Trapped in the flesh of a murdered man, Aeris joins a dogged crew of transfigured renegades. Their goal—to destroy Pathway, no matter the cost.

***

 

Myths of the Mirror

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.

Imprisoned in the stone lair, the captive dragons beat their 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, 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—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.

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 dragons’ souls begins again. Alliances form, old myths are revealed, and new myths are born.

Book II: Eye of Fire

Book III: Eye of Blind

Book IV: Eye of Sun

March Speculative Fiction Prompt

pixabay image by Natan Vance

For visually challenged writers, this is a silhouette of a young person walking in a street in a darkened and empty city. Overhead is a huge moon eclipsing the sun.

Thank you to everyone who responded to February’s prompt. I loved reading and sharing your stories, poems, and artwork. Now, heading in a new direction once again! Above is March’s image. If interested, you have until March 23rd to submit a response. Happy Writing!

Note: I haven’t been getting all the pingbacks from stories. Yikes! Please be sure to link to this post, not to WP Reader. If you’re unsure, just pop a link in the comments below. Thanks!

Here’s how it works:

On the first of every month, I’ll post a speculative fiction prompt from Pixabay. These images are attribution free so you can use them on your blog without worrying about copyright restrictions.

Throughout the month, in order of receipt, I’ll reblog as many of your prompt-inspired creations as I can. And on the last day of each month, I’ll share a complete round-up of all contributions with links to the original posts. Visiting the blogs of participants is a great way to meet other speculative fiction writers.

Post your response on your own blog and link back to this post with a pingback, so I can reblog your post as well as include you in the month-end round-up. There are no word limits or style restrictions, but please keep it somewhat family friendly.

I encourage all authors to stop in and reply to the kind readers who leave comments about your story. This is a lovely way to build connections.

If you’re unsure of how to create a pingback, Hugh has an excellent tutorial here. If you prefer, you can copy and paste your link into the comments of this post.

Above all, have fun.

February Speculative Fiction Round-Up

Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala

Thank you to everyone who participated! Great stories and to those who stretched their imaginations, Congratulations. ❤ Below is the round-up of all the February poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. I’ll post March’s prompt on the 1st!

February Round-up

Pensivity – of Mice and Elephants

Frank Prem – a surprise (I do not like)

Ethan Eagar – This Spells Trouble

Jane Dougherty – A better place

Michnavs – Thump-poem

Jordy Fasheh- Lord Ganapati and his brother Lord Kartikeya

Cosistories – An Elephant Never Forgets

Sadje – A mis-adventure

Trent McDonald – When the Elephant bumps the Mouse House – Chapter 1

Violet Lentz – Another crack at it

Ellen Best – The Storm

Bette Stevens – So Long Sweet Dreams

Anita Dawes – Snow Storm

Dorinda Duclos – Up a Tree

Carol Forrester – The Ever-Changing Beast

Jessica Bakkers – Damaris the Elephant Goddess

Carol – A Trumpeting Sound

Frank Prem – We who are the mice (will dance)

Greg – The Magic of Whimsey

Sonia – Aiming for the Stars

Himani – The Kingdom of Elephantine

Sally Cronin – The “1812 Overture”

Barbara – The Case

Len – The Classroom Circus

Helene Vaillant – Disruption

Balroop Singh – Who is Weak?

Teagan Geneviene – Atonement Ganesha

Anneberly Andrews – A New Home

Andrea Stoeckel – Gesundheit

J. R. Shull – The Stormbringer

Louise – The Elephant in the Room

Robert Goldstein – Anjana and Trina

Zina – Elephant

Kerfe – Removing the Obstacles

Geoff LePard – House Proud

Betul Erbasi – When Friends Need Help

Hugh Roberts – The Battle

HRR Gorman – Elephant and the Lord of All

G.M. Cleary – Swiss

Marje Mallon – A Very Unusual House Warming Party

Jackie – The Gobi

Kelvin Knight – Elephant in a Snowstorm

Miriam Hurdle – The Land of Sweet

Ritu Bhathal – Random Elef-Act of Kind-Mouse

Colleen Chesebro – “Green Fairies”

Venky – A Melting Conscience

Fandango – Guess Who’s Coming

D. Wallace Peach – The Elephant Child