Sunwielder Gets a Makeover

EBOOK low res

As part of my conversion to indie publishing, my books are getting new covers. Once again, Jennifer Munswami of Rising Horse Creations has done her magic. This was a much more difficult cover because finding an image of Gryff as I pictured him in my head was impossible. Isn’t that funny? Writing and reading is so visual, and we become hopelessly attached to the pictures in our heads!

Now, what kind of author would I be if I didn’t try to hook you?

Prolog

The warrior rode in silence. Black oaks and silvergreen, dark with summer leaves, swathed the trail in shifting shadow. Shafts of sunlight speared the forest floor, altered only by the graceful sway of branches in the heated wind. She directed the mare with her knees, an arrow nocked in the recurve bow, a full quiver hanging from her pommel. A short sword with a breath of a curve rested in its scabbard at her belt, the ornate guard and curling quillon studded with moonstones.

Even this far from the battlefield, the land of Aldykar was riddled with brigands, deserters, and the soldiers hunting them. Yet she wore no armor, only the leathers of her homeland, tawny jerkin and breeches, soft-soled boots laced to the knee. Her hair, the red of old blood, flared in the filtered light, brushing her cheeks. Slanted gray eyes, pale as winter clouds, scanned the dark recesses of rock and fern in the hollows beneath the trees. The meeting place lay in a foreign wilderness, a place not unknown to her for she’d traveled the roadways and trails between Edriis and Mastrelle before, as maiden and warrior. Why the old woman chose the woods of Casbonny caused her wonder and filled her with wariness.

An owl’s solemn voice hooted in the moving shadows. The clearing lay ahead through columns of black bark, the round glade sunbathed and thick with fine grass. A young silvergreen grew in its center, branches filigreed steel in the pool of light. Her grandmother stood before the tree, arms at her side, gray hair plaited at her back. An odd expression imprinted her smooth face, a blend of relief, hope, and terrible resignation. “I am alone, Estriilde,” she said.

Songbirds quipped and called in the trees, offering no warning of predators. Estriilde relaxed her bowstring and slipped the arrow into her quiver. A long leg swung over the saddle, and she landed lightly at the shadow’s edge. “We live today, Grandmother,” she said in greeting.

“We live today.” Again the sorrow.

“Why all the trouble to meet at this place?” She tethered Morning Dove to a branch at the glade’s rim. “I ride to Angefell in eight days.”

That she’d received her grandmother’s missive at all seemed a toss left to chance, though she knew better. The old one glimpsed the endless arrays of time, how each moment unfolded like a fan with infinite future possibilities. She traveled them, followed their paths, tracked the splintering of lives, chose and chose through the moments to see where they wended and died.

“You know I bear a vision, my little one.”

Little one? Estriilde smiled. They were Edriisan, statuesque compared to the women of Aldykar, and she stood a hand taller than her grandmother. “This place is part of a path?”

Clasping her hand, the woman drew her into the glade’s light. “Every moment is a path. Yet this is the only one that will save you. The only one I could find. You have died a thousand times.”

Estriilde sighed. “Only today exists.”

“Only now exists, Estriilde. Only now, but I cannot help seeing what I see.”

“What will happen here?” She withdrew from her grandmother’s grasp and walked the edge of the grass in a slow circle, her right hand fingering the hilt of her sword.

The old one’s reply laced the air with ice, “The stranger will come when he hears you scream.”

“Am I to die today?” Estriilde slid the blade free, sunlight glinting on watery steel.

“It is the only way,” the gray woman whispered.

“You invite me to my death, Grandmother.” Estriilde gazed at the forlorn eyes, so like her own. “I will not die easily.”

“You will scream.”

Eyes closed, Estriilde raised her face to the cloudless sky. “Will you stay to see me fall?”

“I cannot, my child. But I will sing for you when you’re dead.”

The birds stilled, their calls frozen in the thick air. The debris of the forest floor rustled and snapped beneath the soft thud of approaching hooves.

“It comes now?” She cast a sideways glance through a wisp of blood red hair to find her grandmother gone.

Bearing weapons of war, the riders reined their mounts at the rim of the glade and slid from their saddles.

Then the screaming began.

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pixabay

pixabay

 

Sunwielder Moments

enwikipediaorg

image from en.wikipedia.org

“I don’t think I can die, Estriilde,” Gryff said quietly, his first words since the peak of the bridge.

“You’ve pickled your head in wine, Farmer,” Estriilde replied. They hurried toward her tent, so close to being free of the wind.

“It’s not the wine,” he persisted. “It’s the sunwield. I don’t believe it will let me die.”

“We all die, Farmer.” Her cloak opening wide as wings, she flew ahead. He plodded behind her, entering the dark tent as she fumbled to light the brazier. Sparks flinted to life and the fire began its fight to banish the cold. He sank onto a stool as Estriilde sat back on her heels and studied him. “Every one of us dies in our time.”

Drawing on the leather cord, he lifted the medallion from inside his shirt and let it hang exposed around his neck. She shuffled forward on her knees, close to him, and caught the bronze disk in her hand, silently counting.

“You have seventeen left.” Her gaze rose to his eyes. “That time may pass in moons or years, Farmer. Every one of us side-steps death without a glimmer of awareness. We are a moment early or late before the arrow flies, we decide not to swim, to travel a lesser road. We aren’t hungry the day the food spoils, we leave the house before the roof collapses, we decide to ride the wild stallion the morning the placid gelding breaks a leg.”                   -Sunwielder

***

I wrote Sunwielder three years ago, and since then “sunwielder moments” have become a mainstay of my household vocabulary.

Sunwielder moments aren’t always those instances when a decision prevents unknowable catastrophe. How many times would each of us have died if not for the minute choices that led us down alternative paths? It’s a question without a reply.

Side-stepping unknowable death stirs a sense of destiny. Yet, for my lover and I, sunwielder moments tend to rise from our reflection on the choices that were pivotal in steering our lives. Each road traveled required another passed by. What if he or I had turned the other way?

There are thousands of them, long strings of seemingly inconsequential forks in the road that brought us to where we are now. Alter one, only one, and the dominoes would have cascaded down completely different paths. Even the wrong turns, the miserable things that happened in our pasts contributed to where we are now.

If you think about it, the billions of choices made by your collective ancestors led to YOU. If a prehistoric youngster hadn’t chosen to clean the scratch on his arm, you might not exist.

Sunwielder moments extend beyond our individual lives as our power of choice impacts the lives of others. We may be the catalyst that unwittingly saves a life, transforms a future, or reaps despair. Even if ultimate outcomes rest on thousands of choices and influences, why not choose the path of kindness. You never know where that road will lead.

In Sunwielder, Estriilde focuses on the present — the past unchangeable and future unknowable. Easier said than done. As humans we tend to spend much of our lives peering over our shoulders and inventing the scenery ahead. Randy and I are no exceptions to the rule.

Yet, as we grow, our sunwielder moments reside more frequently in our present. They appear on the cusp of choices, as we attempt to peek into the future and catch glimpses of how each decision may sway the trajectory of our lives and the lives of those we come in contact with. We attempt to live with more awareness of the gift and power of choice. For we, unlike Gryff and his sunwield, can’t journey back in time and travel the path unchosen.

Do you contemplate the sunwielder moments of your past? Do you choose with an eye on the trajectory of your future?

 

Pondering Time Zones

image from faradayschools.com

image from faradayschools.com

No stranger to discussions on the fluidity of perception, I’m often pondering the different ways of interpreting events, places, and people. I include myself in the mix. Who I am is entirely based on a host of perspectives, mine and others. It changes minute by minute influenced by a stirred up stew of subtle and not so subtle emotions.

image from popsci.com

image from popsci.com

Even the date of my birth is subject to interpretation depending where I and you live in relation to the International Date Line. Time is real, I suppose, but it’s also invented. When my brother used to fly back from Guam, he would arrive in Seattle an hour before he left Guam. Weird, huh?

When I started blogging, I became more aware of the play of time zones. I’m closer to the time-flip than quite a few readers so while I’m posting over a coffee and buttered bagel, some of you are slipping into your pajamas after a long day. If I post in the afternoon, you’re snoozing or rushing off to work.

image from pixshark.com

image from pixshark.com

WordPress occasionally confuses me. My stats show views on Tuesday and here it’s still Monday. My posts are time traveling into the future!

 

Then it only gets more complicated…

According to Kiss Metrics timing is everything and knowing when to post is mandatory for any successful blogger.

  • The highest percentage of users read blogs in the morning. Therefore, I should post occasionally at night?
  • A higher percentage of men read blogs in the evening and at night. Oh, so perhaps I should post in the morning…
  • The average blog gets the most traffic on Monday.  So, now and then I should post on Sunday which is Monday in half the world.
image from beforeitsnews.com

image from beforeitsnews.com

To be fair, these recommendations are based on Eastern Standard Time, so it shouldn’t be all that muddling to me. Yet I care about my readers across the oceans and continents, and I think about them and where they are in their “times,” so near and yet thousands of miles away.

To finish off the stats here are the rest (based on EST):

  • The average blog gets the most traffic around 11am.
  • The average blog gets the most comments on Saturday.
  • The average blog gets the most inbound links on Monday and Thursday.
  • The average blog gets the most inbound links at 7am.

According to that round up, the best time for me to post is just before 4 AM on Saturday morning. Not gonna happen.

I’d love to hear about your slice of agreed upon time. It’s 4 AM out here when it’s 7 AM in New York (EST). What day and time is it for you?

 

Sunwielder – off to the press

Tomorrow Sunwielder heads to the printing press and a couple weeks after that it arrives on my doorstep. These are thrilling moments in the life of a writer – another book birthed, another soul-bearing to the world.

Sunwielder came out of my own musings. How many times have I gazed back at the path of my life and wondered how one small decision, one minute choice or event changed my course. Waitressing in a diner at age sixteen led to a number of years in  the restaurant business, which led to meeting my first husband, which led to a daughter and a new career, which led to my second husband who encouraged me to write. Even mistakes and disasters can inform our lives. The tragedy of 9/11 sent me off on a new career path after 18 years with one company, swapping business for human services. My brother’s murder in 2003 will run its ripples through my life and my writing for the rest of my days.

What if we could go back and remake our choices? Avoid our miseries? Make better decisions and new mistakes that open wonderful doors? That’s the magic of Sunwielder.

Sunwielder

 

In a land on the brink of war, Gryff Worden discovers his family slaughtered, his farm in ruin.

Mortally wounded, he stumbles upon a timekeeper, an old woman of the northern forests, one who tracks the infinite paths of each life. She offers him a sunwield, a medallion promising to return him to the pivotal choices that swayed his life’s journey. Her only condition—he must wear the bronze charm until the end.

Now his story remakes itself, casting him backward in time to moments of decision and death. His old life gone, he no longer remembers the purpose of the medallion burning his chest. As he uncovers the sunwield’s power, new choices lead him on an epic adventure through war, death, friendship, life, and love.

Available on Amazon