Love Undenied

pixabay image compilation

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo has announced the results of Challenge #3. I loved this prompt and the opportunity to write a little fantasy.

Challenge #3: Create a piece of flash fiction (200 -300 words) including a Septolet or two as the spell or charm that helps your character out of a bind (or go where the prompt leads you). The Septolet is a poem consisting of seven lines containing fourteen words with a break in between the two parts. Both parts deal with the same thought and create a picture. 

Love Undenied

Smoke swirled, dappling the forest floor with blotted sunlight. Feathery wisps spun, wove, and coalesced into the skeletal body of a man, ribs and muscles sculpted beneath skin the pallor of death. His face was my lover’s but hawkish, black eyes smoldering, malevolence darkening the hollows of his skull, a beakish shadow for his nose. A cowl of smoke, a cloak, undulated as if windblown, yet the air lay still. In his hand, a staff of black fire blazed.

“Why am I summoned?” His voice ribboned around me.

“To set you free.” I held the amulet in an outstretched arm as if its magic might shield me.

His predatory eyes tightened. “To send me to my death.”

“You are already dead, my love, as am I.” He winced at my words. At the truth or the endearment? “This is an enchantment that binds you to the mortal world.”

He stepped near, a hair’s breadth from the soulstone trembling in my hand. I held my ground. His eyes burned, yet in the flare of light, I beheld the reflection of my feathers, whole and downy to his charred pinions. He longed for my wings. “You may have them,” I whispered.

“No!” he roared.

I met his fire with love in equal measure, amulet extended and pulsing, light peeling away the smoky tendrils binding him. I spoke the grimoire’s spell.

Life and death
Cycles
Undenied
Fear imprisons
In flightless chains
*
Love unfurls
Eternal wings

I thrust the soulstone to his chest. Fear slashed its talons, meant to shred flesh from my face, rip feathers from my wings and claim them, but I was no more in this physical world than he. And when he saw that my love was unconquerable, he surrendered to the magic, and his white wings bloomed.

 

***

To read Deborah Lee’s winning submission, runners-up, and judges’ favorites click here: Carrot Ranch

Happy Thanksgiving!

Guest Post: Andrew Joyce and his Stories

Click on Any Cover for Amazon Link

If you haven’t run across Andrew Joyce in your blog travels, he’s a prolific writer of short stories and novels. He’s here at the Mirror to share a bit of his writing journey, and if can entice you, sell a book or two. His latest book, a collection of short stories, is on sale today for $.99. Take it away, Andrew:

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce.

I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. It is a collection of short stories I’ve written over the years. Inside Bedtime Stories you’ll find tales of fiction and nonfiction. There are all sorts of genres within its pages, from westerns to detective stories to love stories and just about anything else that you can imagine. Some of the stories are dark and some are lighthearted, but I hope you’ll find them all captivating.

Okay, now that I’ve got the commercial out of the way, I can get down to something Diana and I thought I should talk about. Namely, my experience writing short stories versus novels, and why I chose some of the stories included in the book.

First, a brief history of the modern short story:

Magazines had been around for a while, but were never widely distributed until the early 1900s. That’s when future novelists such as Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Louis L’Amour, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Raymond Chandler, to mention just a few, honed their writing skills by writing short stories for monthly publications. They all thought the stories would be a one-time shot and that would be the end of them.

Long after they and their novels became celebrated, their short stories were collected into anthologies and published. I’ve read every one of those collections. My point is, they all wanted to write novels, but while they were writing their first novel, or in between their first and second, they wrote and sold short stories as a way to keep the wolf from the door.

Not that I’m putting myself in their class—no friggin’ way! I’m just saying that I, too, started out writing short stories, but they were not for publication. I wrote them because I like to tell stories. My earliest short stories were just emails to friends, telling them of my youthful adventures. They were all true, but because I led a somewhat colorful life way back then, the emails read like fiction stories. When I ran out of stories about myself, I started in on writing fiction.

Just for the hell of it, I threw one of my early nonfiction stories up on a writing forum on the internet, and it was granted the honor of being included in a print anthology entitled The Best of 2011. I even got paid for it.

That prompted me to try my hand at writing a novel. I had read an article about the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 and it outraged me. I had never heard of it before, so I started doing research and that research led to a 164,000 word novel (eventually edited down to 139,000 words). It took about two years to research and write. To entertain myself when not working on the novel, I would write short stories, but I never did anything with them. They just sat in a file folder.

So anyway, I set out to get an agent to help me publish my recently completed novel. I sent out about a million query letters. But in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing—and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent—I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing, to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer, banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months, then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon—twice—and it won the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013.

I wrote two more books before I finally got my original novel published. And in all that time, I continued to write short stories. You see, I don’t own a TV. So at night, after working on a novel all day, I’d bang out short stories, mostly for my own entertainment.

That’s why I write novels and that’s why I write short stories. But some of my short stories are not that short. Some are over 20,000 words. Many are in the area of 10,000 words. I do have a few that are no more than 100 words. But I would have to say that the majority of my stories fall into the 2,500 word category.

My current book came about because my editor hounded me for two years to put all my short stories into one collection. Actually, it was supposed to be a two-volume set because there was so much material. I fended her off for as long as possible. I didn’t want to do the work of editing all the stories—there were a lot of them. But she finally wore me down. Instead of two volumes, I put all the stories into a single book because I wanted to get the whole thing over with. I had other books to write.

Bedtime Stories is comprised of 218,000 words. I couldn’t fit another story in if I had to. Yeah, for an eBook I could have, but the print book already had 700 pages and was three inches thick, so I kept a few stories out. And it’s a good thing too. The ones I left out, I didn’t think were up to par. One cannot hit a home run every time one’s at bat.

In the month since I published Bedtime Stories, I’ve written at least ten new short stories. But please don’t tell my editor.

Andrew’s Bio:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups: 

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

Dark Fey Trilogy: Breaking Into the Light

Cynthia Morgan has a new book and offered to share an excerpt. Beautiful covers!

A Brief Excerpt from book three of the Dark Fey Trilogy….

“Ye’ shoul’ no enter th’ demesne of th’ Reviled unarmed, ‘ealer.”  Bryth and Mardan agreed emphatically, but Gairynzvl shook his head; gazing with comprehension and even greater respect at his friend.

“He cannot represent Peace armed.”  Smiling at his friends with candid esteem, Evondair raised his hand to cover his heart as he bowed to them with closed eyes and wings furled inward in a sign of profound respect; then he turned for the mountain. Stepping briskly through the snow as he spread his wings wide, he utilized several powerful wing beats to ascend into the increasingly furious snowfall as all gazes raised to watch him disappear into the tempest.

Rising into the roiling atmosphere, his friends and fellow Fey of the Light vanished almost instantly amid the turbulence of buffeting snow.  Although he realized it would obscure him from visible sight, Evondair straightaway questioned his decision to seek out the enemy while cloaked in the effects of the blinding storm where he could neither see nor hear anything other than the storm itself.  The only thing he could rely upon was his in-born precise sense of direction, which all Fey possessed, and the indistinct sense of Nunvaret’s presence he now Knew.  The Demonfey Captain was not yet on the Jyndari side of the portal, but the moment he crossed over the Healer would become aware of him.  Until he did, Evondair would wait, perched atop the mountain like a raptor poised to descend upon his prey.

Without forewarning, a gale of wind pummeled against him, ruffling his feathers erratically and sending the Healer tumbling downward steeply toward the rocky base of the mountain.  Reflexively, his wings beat furiously to correct his momentum, but his senses were muddled by the unexpected plummet and for several moments he had no idea how close he was to his destination. Laboring to keep his place, he searched the grayish-white tempest below hoping to reorient himself with some marker of landscape, but only obscurity met his viridian gaze.  The wind intensified, as if intent upon evicting him from the sky, and the effort required to remain aloft quickly became too great.

Descending cautiously, Evondair listened with dread as the sounds of tramping boots and creaking armaments became audible over the howl of the storm.  A strident horn call from the direction of Lyyshara indicated the Fey of the Light were aware of the Reviled crossing into their realm and an echo of discordant bugles returned.  Beating his wings powerfully in search of a landing place, Evondair’s gaze pierced the blustering whiteout until he suddenly saw granite only inches below him and mere seconds before he would have crashed into the rocky outcropping.  His boots slid upon the frozen, snow-covered ledge, sending a shower of rocks tumbling downward as he sought purchase; then he folded his wings and crouched down, grasping the rock beneath his feet with his hands to steady himself against the wind. Then he stared downward into the squall and waited.

Echoes of voices whipped round him like autumn leaves spiraling upon the wind, though they were disjointed and unintelligible. A terrifying growl of united Dlalth voices bolstering for battle ascended from the swirling vagueness below and, from the distance, the scattered sounds of a lyrical intonation broken by the ferocity of the storm drifted on the air. Evondair recognized the Celebrae petition recited by all Fey of the Light before entering into dangerous situations and, without hesitation, he repeated it inwardly.

Vrynnoth chae Luxonyth guildynn, braechanyth Luxonythchaera vornae tywylucht.

May the Light that guides vary not and cast its brightness over this darkness. 

Out of the swirling shadows of snow and nighttide, a voice unexpectedly filled his mind so piercing it caused him to flinch backward and shake his head.

May it guide indeed, Healer.”

*******

Breaking into the Light relates the inspiration of Hope and the power of forgiveness through a tale that is brutally beautiful.

The Reviled are the enemy; merciless, untrustworthy.  They embody brutality and devastation.  The Fey of the Light have lived with these truths for millennia.  Daring to think otherwise invites tragedy.

Gairynzvl was a Reviled Fey and lived the riotous life of all Dark Ones; yet now he is rescuing younglings from the darkness.  The actions taken by him and his band of Liberators are fulfilling Ancient Prophecies and proving long-accepted beliefs to be inaccurate. Those who have lived in the Light all their lives, who enjoyed the luxuries of abundance, are suddenly faced with unavoidable questions.

How is Peace achieved?  Can Light unite with Darkness?

Will the Fey of the Light sacrifice everything to achieve that which seems impossible or will they turn their heads and ignore the shadows weeping all around them?

You can find the Dark Fey Trilogy on Amazon/Kindle here:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075SDP8VL

Discover more about Dark Fey at its official website: https://allthingsdarkfey.wixsite.com/feyandmusings

*******

Meet the Author: Cynthia Morgan

Cynthia A. Morgan is an award-winning author; columnist for the national magazine Fresh LifeStyle, and a member of the Poetry Society of America and Artists for Peace. Creator of the mythical realm of Jyndari and author of the epic fantasy Dark Fey Trilogy, Morgan’s powerful story relates how the power of Hope, Acceptance and Forgiveness can change the world, when Positive Action is taken to create change. The only way to achieve Peace is to become Peace.

Morgan is also the author of the popular blog Booknvolume where her over 17K followers are regularly treated to Morgan’s own brand of poetry, English Sonnets, musings about life, personal recipes, photography, book reviews and more.

Some of her other interests includes a deep love for animals and the environment. She is passionate about music and theatre; is frequently heard laughing; and finds the mysteries of ancient times, spirituality, and the possibilities of life elsewhere in the cosmos intriguing. Morgan Believes in the power of Love, Hope and Forgiveness, all of which is reflected in her lyrically elegant writing style.

You can find Morgan through social media in the following places:

Readers Favorite 5-Star Review (1) 

Readers Favorite 5-Star Review (2)  

Blog / website: booknvolume.com
All Things Dark Fey Website 
Amazon Author Page
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
GoodReads
Creativia Author Page 

Help: Flash Fiction #Flash4Storms

pixabay image

The hurricanes season delivered destruction across Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the rest of the Carribean. But that’s only a piece of the suffering that rips through the world and not the latest or the last. Sarah Brentyn is donating $1 for every flash fiction story around the theme of Help, up to $50.  Entries need to be in by October 14 if you want to join in. Just include a link to her site Lemon Shark so you get counted. I’ll match her donation, so let’s max her challenge out!

Help

Audrey climbed the steep, narrow stairs to the third floor and switched on the light. She kept a tidy attic, dusted, everything in labeled boxes from shoe-box rectangles to the one that had delivered her new washer. Many were stuffed to the brim, and some she filled gradually. She had empties too, waiting for the next wedding or birth, the next death, the next act of brutal terrorism, another war or earthquake, or a hurricane like the ones that spun across the ocean and left thousands in need of help.

There was so much despair that for a long time she felt guilty if she smiled, horrible for a burst of laughter. To appreciate an autumn day or lunch with a friend seemed selfish and careless as if all that suffering meant nothing to her, just another day of rain down life’s gutter. So, she compartmentalized, pared fragile layers from her heart and filled her boxes with fragments of a mangled world. And each day, she spent a few hours after work lifting lids and letting the emotions sweep her into fits of hilarity or weeping. Her boxes spared her from drowning in helplessness and kept her happiness safe. In a world gone mad, they kept her sane.

Scattered: #writephoto

Thanks to Sue Vincent for a beautiful photo prompt. I went a little off-world on this one. Hope you enjoy.

*

“I’ll take the risk.” Captain Galles scratched the stubble graying his jaw. “If something happens to me, Corso’s in charge, not that you’ll have any decisions left.”

No one argued. What was the point? Forty chrons without food and water, we ran shy of options. We’d searched the black bowels of the alien freighter, a salvage operation by the looks of it, and found nothing but twisted and charred metal, every scrap incinerated clean. Our damaged shuttle lay on its side amidst the sea of relics.

The exception to the vast darkness was a panel of fractured light, a patterning of sublime beauty suspended over a polished dais. Our mechanical captors had wedged the unit against the compartment’s grated wall shortly after we found ourselves prisoners. Primitive cyborgs, the aliens lacked facial articulation and translation capabilities, the robotic language in all forms indecipherable. All our words and gestures proved futile, and our captain’s demands for basic sustenance went unheeded. They’d installed the contraption and left, its function a mystery.

The eight of us stood at the fringe of light as Galles stepped onto the dais. The array of lights above him hummed in a slow spin and increased in speed until they appeared to hurl backward. His mouth gaped in a silent wail, eyes pooled with terror. He struggled to escape the machine, hammered fists against an invisible barrier he couldn’t break. The lights blurred into a white star and he froze like a holograph set on pause.

His body began to disintegrate, clothing and skin breaking apart and floating like mist, then deeper, his whole shape loosening and scattering. He dissolved into swirling vapor, a haze of bright particles. A burst of blue current blinded me, and when I opened my eyes, he was gone.

I gasped and licked my parched lips, stifling an urge to vomit. Someone to my right heaved a dry sob. We sank to the floor where we’d stood, doomed. A day or two, we’d all be dead.

***

Amak studied the monitor. An unexpected reaction. It appears they are unfamiliar with teleportation. The fear response was extreme.

They are primitive. Rohla absorbed a wave of compassion emanating from the companion. They lack translation capabilities and do not understand the most basic of trinary languages. Their arithmetics are rudimentary. We have no means of communicating with them.

They choose death over the unknown. Amak shared the bafflement, their logic incomprehensible. Are we certain of the teleportation coordinates?

Without question. They were retrieved from their ship’s logs prior to processing.

Thoughts?

Rohla’s aura went silent, and Amak ceded to the desire for contemplation. Once completed, Rohla opened a channel and set the dilemma forth. Either we honor their choice as sentient beings and let them die, or we defy them, apply force, and save their lives.

Book Review: Catling’s Bane (The Rose Shield Book 1)

Rob, at IARTICHOKEU Book Reviews was wonderfully kind to read and review Catling’s Bane. With the millions of great books out there, it’s an honor I’m thankful for. Gotta love the book bloggers and share the good news. Thank you, Rob. 😀

iArtichokeu's Book Reviews

61czHDIautLTitle: Catling’s Bane (The Rose Shield Book 1)

Author: D. Wallace Peach

Length310 pages

Amazon

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

When I finished this book, instead of instantly knowing what was going to write about in my review, I pretty much turned caveman mode and felt like rushing to all my friends, grabbing them each by the arms and yelling “THIS BOOK. YOU ALL READ. MUST. NOW!”


5starMy Rating: 5 Lit Fireflies

I absolutely LOVED this book! I’ve been pretty busy as of last month, because of some medical healing issues, and was unable to read for long periods of time. I did however read this book every chance I was free, and only this book. In a way I am grateful for the long progress, because I got to savor every beautiful and exciting moment this book had to offer. Instead of binge reading…

View original post 512 more words

Soul Swallower – new series WIP

I think that’s the name of the series. I like the alliteration anyway. Better than Soul Gulper.

Perhaps you remember the character Raze from one of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts. Well, he’s back with a series of his own.

I don’t have too much to share yet, but here’s a brief peek at the act of swallowing a soul:

***

When the others retired, Raze sat by the hearth, its flames dwindling to scarlet embers. His grief for Briyon unearthed old ghosts, his mother among them, an ageless portrait suspended in the gallery of his mind. Not so his memories of Mirelle. Those lingered with infinite fluidity, entangled with visions of the past and dreams of a future that would never be.

Six years had shuffled by since her death, five since he’d joined Briyon at the freehold, and no lever had proved long or strong enough to pry her from his heart. Loneliness invaded his body so deeply it punched the breath from his lungs and sapped the strength from his back, and no hoping and wishing could bring those people back. A twenty-one he was master of the freehold, a tired soul, angry at a world he couldn’t control.

He turned the pendant over in his hand, keenly aware of its delicate beauty. The white soulstone had transformed, no longer solid but translucent with pale wisps of color swirling like morning mist. Copper wire the breadth of a strand of hair coiled around it, holding a round sliver of peridot in place with a final twist of two tiny leaves. It glowed with a soft light, indicating the presence of a soul. A soul he loved.

With great care, he unhooked the copper leaves, unwound the wire, and removed the green gem that capped a small hole. Inside, an iridescent sphere resembling a pearl shone with a brilliance that startled him. Were all souls so bright? He didn’t know; this was his first. He rolled it into his hand. Would he swallow it? Did he want what Briyon offered? Was there anything to fear?

The pearl of light glowed in his palm, offering no insight. He placed it back into the pendant. No need to choose; no decision pressed him to act with haste. The round gem refitted, he coiled the wires, paused, and then uncoiled them. In one fluid motion, he uncapped the pendant, tipped the sphere into his mouth, and swallowed.

A rush of heat streamed from his belly, up through his heart into his head and down his limbs to his fingers and toes. His body trembled, the sensation alien, but not frightening, and not long lived, for it subsided as quickly as it had overtaken him. Eyes closed, he accepted Briyon’s soul. In the quiet of night, he exhaled a long breath, crept to bed, and dreamed another man’s dreams.