CREATOR INTRODUCTION WITH RIC SANTOS

download (1).jpeg

IMG_2796.jpeg

For the first time on The Writer’s Alley, we have an author who is also a music creator. He likes to express his creativity multiple areas of the creativity spectrum. Linked below are his social media links along with his music on Spotify.

Check it out. It’s very interesting.

thank you for joining us at The Writer’s Alley


Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/artist/63bBfjK75AtTlz1uul8gzt?si=bFMF6wRtRtOhjHz5nnahCw


Independent Author Network:

https://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ric-santos.html

https://www.twitter.com/ricwritesstuff

https://www.twitter.com/Viliganteworks

https://www.instagram.com/Viliganteworks

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH TIZOM VANCLIEF


WELCOME TO THE WRITER’S ALLEY AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT SERIES! TODAY WE HAVE THE AMAZING TIZOM VANCLIEF, AN INTEGRAL MEMBER OF THE TWITTER WRITING COMMUNITY. SIT BACK AND LISTEN TO HIS WORDS. HE HAS SOME ADVICE WHEN IT COMES TO WORLD BUILDING.

tizomvanclief.JPG

Even before I became a writer I think I was always lost in make-believe. I have been an avid comic book reader for years, a self-proclaimed geek with a love of fantasy and a perpetual daydreamer. Books have always been my safety blanket. I can clearly remember when I turned 8 years old and got my first library card and thought it was the best thing in the world. My mom used to take me to the library for storytime and I would sit there captivated by the person reading to us. I’ve always loved delving into worlds of fantasy and now I want to write those stories to have others get lost in the same whimsy.


“Oh my god, I’d love to live in Westeros. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is amazing. Who doesn’t like Narnia?” These are things a lot of people say but you know what they don’t say, “I want to go through the extensive process of building my own world.” Now, this is just my take on world-building...it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong writing, in general, is hard. You’re taking something completely abstract from your mind and translating that to the page so that others will enjoy a thought that you have created...and art is subjective. You could write the next great novel but there will always be someone who doesn’t appreciate it. There is always a critique. 


Currently, I am writing my first book and what I discovered in world-building is that there is always another question to ask yourself. It amazes me that writing does take you back to the elementary basics: who, what, when, where and why. Creating a story that people will believe, understand and relate to can be daunting. I realized recently while writing a scene about a school that I didn’t know who the students were, who taught there or where the school was located because I had only been focused on how the school was just a background for the main character of the story but all those other questions were relevant. 


When I write a scene I don’t want the reader to ask questions that the scene doesn’t call for. If the reader supposed to wonder how Laila navigates her life as a seeing-impaired magic user then they shouldn’t be stuck on questions like: how did we get here? where is this place? what is a satyr? The answer to those questions should be organically woven into the story. The more I read stories from Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series, Robin Hobb’s The Rain Wilds Chronicles or David Dalglish’s Book of The Half-Orc series the more I am awed by their grasp of imagery and the detail in the creation of their worlds. 


When world-building is done correctly it transports you and it’s easy to get lost in time turning the pages. This is my goal. This is why I write.



Upcoming projects


I am currently writing my first fantasy novel Laila’s Tome


I also have a continuing novella set in the same world called Sandriel’s Lament that you can read on my website (new chapters are usually uploaded monthly).


https://www.tizomvanclief.com/blog/categories/sandriel-s-lament



Social media links


www.instagram.com/tizomvanclief


www.twitter.com/tizomvanclief


www.tizomvanclief.com 

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED HIS ADVICE ON WITH WORLD BUILDING. IF SO, PLEASE GO TO ALL OF HIS SOCIAL MEDIA AND GIVE HIM A FOLLOW. HE’S A GREAT PERSON.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH N.F. HURTEAU


WELCOME BACK TO THE WRITER’S ALLEY AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT SERIES. TODAY WE ARE JOINED BY THE AMAZING R.F. HURTEAU, AUTHOR OF ANTIQUITY’S GATE, BOOK 1 OF ITS SERIES.

authorphoto.jpeg
 

1.    Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I’ve heard people talk about the boost they get from a nice big cup of coffee—I don’t experience that because I drink entirely too much of it to feel any effect. But I like to imagine that the buzz I get from writing is that same sort of feeling. After a long session I’m too excited to go to bed or relax. So it most definitely energizes me!

 

2.    What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Rushing the process. It doesn’t have to take years to write a book, but if it does, if that’s what it needed to be the best version of itself, then that’s what it needed! Some people are quick, some are slow, none of them are doing anything wrong…but no matter how fast you can produce a story, it takes time to edit, revise, get feedback. The urge to get to the finish line is a strong pull and with our options it’s easy to skip steps sometimes. Take it from someone who has to learn everything the hard way—Do it right. Give your story the effort it deserves!

 

3.    What is your writing Kryptonite?

My children! They’re obviously my first priority, and just as obviously the reason I don’t always get to sit down and write when I’d intended to! But somehow we make it work.   

  

4.    Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try to balance the two. The things I love about the stories that are dear to me aren’t always original, but because I love them they are familiar and comforting. The ideas, tropes, events that have moved me to tears or lingered with me long after the story ends, those are the ones that stay close to my heart. I don’t want to just regurgitate someone else’s story, but I do want to take the my favorite bits of things and spin them into my own creation. That’s the beautiful thing about writing. A hundred people can look at the same prompt and write a hundred different stories from it. Every stimuli we come across, whether from books, TV, or everyday life, has the potential to be transformed into the focal point of a “What if…?” question. Speaking of questions, did I even get around to answering this one? I think so. Maybe.

 

5.    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Antiquity’s Gate is definitely a series very dependent on each of the books working together to build the big picture. Don’t get me wrong, they each tell a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. But I don’t think the later books pack quite as much punch as intended if someone were to read them out of context.   

  

6.    As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Totoro. He gets me.    

  

7.    What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t research much BEFORE writing, I research as the process calls for it. The vast majority of my world-building is me wondering if something is just plausible enough to be believable. That results in hours spent researching all kinds of topics (you writers know what I’m talking about, the kind of stuff that lands you on a no-fly list somewhere.) It’s neat when I run into things I “thought up” and discover that something similar is actually in the works! Anyway, I don’t want to disrespect the science part of science fiction, so I definitely try to be within the realm of possibility…for the most part. There’s always that one outrageous piece of tech, you know? The other research is a lot of that stuff I learned in school that I thought I’d never use. If the population was cut down by x amount and it’s y years later and they are living in a city of domes with z amount of livable space what’s a realistic number of inhabitants? If x is racing down a maglev track in a stolen vehicle at y kpm and a train leaves the station heading in his direction at 9:18am at what time will he be flattened into a pancake…that sort of thing!

  

8.    How do you select the names of your characters?

Most of the time they just come to me. Like magic! Haha. If they don’t, I text my husband something vague like “need name. Jerk. Likes bright socks and hates Tuesdays.” Then he texts me back a name and boom, there it is.

 

9.    Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

 

Ohhhh yes. This is quite possibly my absolute favorite part of reading and writing. Easter Eggs. Replay value. Finding things in a story the third, fourth, fifth time I read it. I don’t reread too many books that many times—there are too many books I want to read the first time! But those I do are those I really love. And I so appreciate the nuance and tiny details the author placed there, like a love letter to us super fans to find tucked in the pages years later. My books have a lot of love tucked in for those who wish to find it. Things that don’t come in to play until much later, perhaps forgotten & then discovered anew! Perhaps not. J

  

10. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Transitioning from one project to the next. Even between books in a series there’s something hard about letting go. When I finish the whole thing I’ll probably have to go through a traditional mourning period of some sort. Better buy some black slacks that fit. Or can you mourn properly in yoga pants?

 

11. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

To take a page out of Bilbo Baggins’ book… I don’t write half of them half as fast as I should like, and I write less than half of them half as fast as they deserve. Take from that what you will!


SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

https://www.rfhurteau.com

mybook.to/AntiquitysGate

https://www.instagram.com/rfhurteau

https://www.twitter.com/rfhurteau

https://www.facebook.com/rfhurteau

46266270.jpg


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH SARA A. NOË


Hello everyone! Welcome back to the Author Spotlight Series with The Writer’s Alley! And, today we’re honored with the amazing Sara A. Noë. She’s here to give us a brief history of her journey with some writing tips! Sit back and enjoy her story.


Noe.jpg
 

“I want to be an author when I grow up” was a sentence that was never uttered out of my mouth as a child. I was always a creative type from the moment my fingers learned how to hold a pencil—drawing, writing poetry—but writing a book? Never crossed my radar. I wanted to be a landscape architect.

That is, until I wrote my first full fantasy novel in high school, and then I was infected with the writing virus. After coming within a hair’s breadth of traditional publication as a high school senior and then watching the dream slip away when my mentor became disinterested in me, I obsessively threw myself into writing a new series at Purdue University while pursuing a landscape architecture bachelors of science and a minor in creative writing. My life plan was to design parks by day and write novels by night.

Life has a funny way of veering in different directions just when you think you planned your roadmap. I realized partway through college that landscape architecture was a noble and innovative field, but it wasn’t for me. I lacked the passion. I completed my internship and graduated with honors but then hopped from odd job to odd job while spending every spare minute writing and editing. I wanted to publish traditionally because self-publishing has such a negative stigma about sloppy, unedited, and overall poor quality books flooding the market. I wanted the prestige of signing with a literary agent.

And yet, as the query letters went out and the rejection letters inevitably trickled in, the idea of giving up all the rights to my story left an uncomfortable pit in my stomach. After reading about bestselling author Terry Goodkind’s experience with his cover art, I worried a publisher wouldn’t honor my opinions and I might end up hating my own book. The more research I did, the larger that pit grew with each query letter I sent. I may not have always been a writer, but I was always an artist, and as hard as I tried to convince myself an experienced publishing house would do a better job designing the book than I could, the thought of surrendering my story felt like passing off an incomplete piece of art for another artist to finish and then own the copyright.

I wanted my book to be mine, from cover to cover—every aspect, inside and out. I had a vision for what I wanted it to be. Eight years after I began writing my seven-book series, I hired an editor, designed and created the cover in Photoshop, formatted the layout, and independently published the first book in the Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series, A Fallen Hero. Book II: Phantom’s Mask is scheduled for a 2020 release date.

My experience proves that even when you think you’re walking down the wrong road, you’re actually leveling up for the next leg of the quest. Landscape architecture not only taught me how to use Photoshop and provided me a basic understanding of graphic design and layout, but also expanded my knowledge to develop detailed settings in my writing. My odd jobs interacting with the public as a casino cashier, a travel agent saleswoman, a server, and a customer experience adviser taught me to overcome my introverted mindset and talk to people with more confidence, and then later, my job as an e-commerce specialist taught me skills in website management and email content. These “wrong roads” left me prepared when I stepped foot on the right one.

Holding my novel for the first time brought a rush of tears to my eyes. The monetary and time investments are colossal, but every penny and every second is worth it to pursue my dream. I just finished my first book signing tour, where I visited seven cities in three states to sign copies of A Fallen Hero at Barnes & Noble. These characters have pulled me into their world for over a decade; they wouldn’t let me rest until I told their story. I hope to someday forge a full-time career writing novels.

I’m just getting started.


20190608_142502.jpg
 
AFH_Hardcover_front.jpg
AFH_Hardcover copy.jpg


Get your copy of her wonderful novel! And, give her a follow on all of her social media! Thank you for joining us at The Writer’s Alley!!!!

See you next time!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH ASHLEY LYNN

download (1).jpeg

Welcome back to The Writer’s Alley! Thank you for taking the time to meet our next author—Ashley Lynn. She has agree to tell us about herself with some advice. Like I always say, “buckle your seat belts and prepare yourself!”

67819543_443344152934249_4795588026891763712_n.jpg
 

ABOUT

I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, a graphic designer, an indie nature photographer and many other things, but I am also and always have been, a writer. I have written since I can remember. My very first poem was about bubbles; my first short story was about animals; and my first attempt at a novel (that was never finished) was going to be about growing up. If I hadn’t moved around so often when I was younger, I’d likely still have them lying around somewhere in a folder. I have notebooks upon journals of written works. My poems have been published through The International Library of Poetry, winning me two Editor’s Choice Awards on separate occasions. I have also recently self-published some of my poetry in a collection called Of Free Forms & Rhymes. I was the editor and designer of my high school’s Literary & Art Magazine and I wrote a small skit called Fitting In for Hidden Valley Voices. Writing is apart of me just as much as the roots are part of a plant. It wasn’t until last year when I started getting serious about publishing them and getting my ideas down for my fantasy novel. I still don’t understand why it took me so long; I suppose fear was a huge factor. However, just getting out there and self-publishing despite all of my inner thoughts was one of the best feelings ever. I may not be a signed author or well known, but I am doing what I love and what I have always done and now I am getting the chance to share it with my kids and a few handful of people who love the craft as much as I do and I feel like that is what is the blessing. It hasn’t always been easy having enough confidence to put myself out there as a writer, well as any type of artist; but I have found a great writing community within Twiiter, found out that once I opened up about my writing, friends and family were much more supportive than I had anticipated and I also joined a monthly poetry group as another way of sharing what I what and supporting other writers as well. I am a multi-genre writer, which means today I could be spending the day in fields of green, with dancing daisies, while listening to birds sing as I prance along with poetry. Or I could be standing next to someone in the wake of something extreme, if only for a moment and then the moment is gone because I am working with short stories. Or finally I could be setting the scene to play out for a while with a nice cup of tea and scones because I am spending the day lost in the words of a fantasy novel. I love being a writer.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

Upcoming Projects:

I am currently editing the proof of A Single Sitting Prose: A Collection of Short Stories Release date of mid-late August. I am also working on a second collection of poetry and my first junior fantasy novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

https://www.blurb.com/user/KaonnaLynn

https://www.facebook.com/KaonnaLynnAuthor/

https://twitter.com/kaonnalynn

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH CANDICE LOLA

download (1).jpeg

Today on The Writer’s Alley Author Spotlight, we have the amazing Candice Lola, everyone! A Therapist turned writer. Let’s find out some more about her!

IMG_3766.JPG
 

About


I am a writer.

It has taken me 5 years to say it. But I am. I have put pen to paper for prolonged periods of time. I have published work. I have edited work for others. I am earning a degree that incorporates creative writing and human rights.

Before this, I was a therapist. I worked with children on the spectrum and loved it. I’ve had amazing clients and have worked with amazing families, but writing kept calling to me from the far reaches of a place I haven’t determined yet. Deciding to pursue writing took me 18 months of careful planning, agonizing, mediation, long talks with loved ones, and finally, a blog post of mine being spotted by a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, who asked me for a quote because she loved my writing.

If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is.

So now I am based in New York City, a very writer-y place to be. I have stories in Midnight & Indigo, International Journal of Womyn, The Huffington Post, and Medium. I’ve presented for students at New York University, The New School, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I have filled this blog with work I am passionate about that is close to my heart. These stories are a little bit sci-fi and a little bit fantasy. They are a little bit weird and a little bit cerebral. They are a little bit me, a little bit my loved ones, and maybe you will discover that they are a little bit you, too.

I hope you love them. I hope you share them with your friends and family. I hope they make you feel seen and empowered and magical. I hope that you subscribe, that you come back to read new material, and that you feel inspired to create something yourself.

I am a writer.

I hope that at least for today, I can help you enjoy being a reader.


Upcoming projects

I am currently working on my first novella as both a creative final project for my master's and my first solo published work. It is an extension of "Everywoman" a short story available on my blog.

Her Social Media Links

https://www.candicelola.com

https://www.instagram.com/candice_lola

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH THE GRAND JOSEPH S. SAMANIEGO

download (1).jpeg
 
Photo (1).jpg

Today at The Writer’s Alley, we have the grand Joseph S. Samaniego—author of the Legends of Carolyngian Age novels and other stories. He has decided to give us a lesson on world-building—a topic near and dear to every writer. So, sit back and take a few notes. He has some really good information to give.

 

World Building for Fun and Fantasy!

                  As a fantasy author world building is often much more time consuming and complex than the stories themselves. What am I saying? It is always much more time consuming and complex than the stories themselves. Usually it’s more fun too! It simply has to be because this is the world that your labors of love will need to exist in for their entire lives, which in the literary world is for eternity. That doesn’t mean that your newly built world is a static thing. It can grow and evolve much like the world we live in does. In fact it is much better it that is the case.  Your characters change over time and so the environment around them should as well. It is something that happens in the natural world.

                  Valleys form and mountains crumble. Oceans rise and storms will rage. However, the world accepts it all and change becomes the only constant factor. In fantasy writing the changing world fuels the stories that are set within the world. Often we get bogged down by the intricate details of character development that we sometimes miss the bigger picture behind the development. The world will change much like that. A stream flowing from a mountain will eventually turn into a flowing river but it may take hundreds or thousands of years. Was there a settlement living downstream that is now in danger? Did a plucky young adventurer get chosen by the village elder to find a new place to settle before it is too late? These are some simple yet potentially action packed stories centered on the evolving world. That world will mold that adventurer and his village.

How then do we as writers describe the world? Any way we can! I have a love for maps so I use those maps to add to the experience for the reader and myself. I can draw the world out and see where my characters are headed and how they will get there. Where are the mountains and rivers located and then maybe come up with some legend of how the gods shaped them. Maybe there is an old tale about a giant cutting a path that became a river or valley. Who knows? However, the great thing is that there is no wrong answer because it’s part of the world that you are building to match the setting and the atmosphere. For thousands of years out own cultures have been shaped by the tales passed down and for many cultures those tales sync up and share commonalities with other cultures. Telling a story of a world can be exciting and unpredictable. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming.

That’s a chore to combat, believe me. It used to work on my nerves to make sure I had every detail in place and though I still get a bit frustrated making sure that everything is correct, I’ve learned to let go. However, one way I’ve been able to keep myself a bit more focused and ground is in the voice I use to write. I like to utilize my historian training and write as if I’m recording a historical record. I learned that if you want people to read historical research you have to add some flare and a bit of charm. I like to do that in all my writing and when I speak. A 3rd person omniscient narrator is great but if he or she is monotone then it hurts the final product. When you are talking about wars, natural disasters, gods, goddesses and all sorts of magic you want to bring the reader on the each of their seat and dazzle them so much that they see the world and events happening right before their eyes! Having a focused voice in your writing also helps you as a writing understand your own world much better and easier than just jotting ideas on paper. I mean that is the start but your voice should evolve like your world does, maybe along with your world.

That’s the joy of building a world. You get to put the excitement that you feel as you craft it within your mind directly into the readers’ eyes. They can see your vision as you describe it or maybe you’ve left some parts open-minded for their own interpretation. That works too! Maybe it will inspire them to take own a world building idea of their own. In the end the world being built could be any shape or form. What will matter is if we, as writers and readers, can experience something magical and great within a brand new world. 


Listed below are all of Joseph’s social media links. Take a second and check out his pages. He’s a great guy, and he’s always willing to help anyone. Don’t be afraid to say hello.

https://www.joseph-samaniego.com/

https://twitter.com/JSSamaniego1

https://www.facebook.com/JSSamaniego/

https://www.goodreads.com/JSSamaniego


51oGnfqtuoL._AC_UL320_.jpg
81zoG3Ef0+L._AC_UL320_.jpg
61T1ecM0s1L._AC_UL320_.jpg
81FA2zDiwIL._AC_UL320_.jpg
 

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT WITH THE AMAZING N.M. THORN OF THE FIRE SALAMANDER CHRONICLES

download (1).jpeg
 

Have you wondered about the Urban Fantasy series The Fire Salamander Chronicles? Well, here at The Writer’s Alley, we’re honored to start off our new series, Author Spotlights, with the great N.M. Thorn, author of the widely successful The Fire Salamander Chronicles. Not only does this amazingly talented writer create such vivid worlds with stylistic integrity and uncanny ability, she also is a successful book marketer. Buckle in your seat beats and prepare yourself for a great interview. And, welcome to The Author Spotlights!

 

1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I am writing under the pen name N.M. Thorn. There are many reasons why I chose to use a pen name as opposed to my real name. One of the main reasons is privacy. I like to keep my writing separate from both my personal and professional life. Besides, writing under a pen name is fun. It gives me a separation from reality and allows me additional freedom of voice.

2. Does your family support your career as a writer?

Yes, absolutely. I don’t think without my husband’s support any of my books would be published. He is my first reader, editor and critic, and when I started to work on my first novel, he was the only one who knew about it. He is the one who shares my journey as a writer and stands by my side through all the ups and downs of it, talking about my characters as if they were real people, and going into endless discussions about plot development and possible holes. Besides my husband, my brother and my niece are my biggest cheerleaders and I appreciate it more than I can say.

3. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I believe the best money I ever spent as a writer was the $35 that I paid to the US Copyright office. Nowadays, with all the plagiarism and identity theft that’s going on, not only in the writing industry, but everywhere, protecting yourself and your work should be the number one priority of every creative individual.

4. What’s the best way to market your books?

As an indie author, you are not supported by a publishing agency, and doing your own marketing is a must. With millions of books being published on Amazon every year, if you don’t do marketing, no one will ever find you no matter how great of a writer you are. There are many marketing activities you can do as an author. Social Media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising are just some of them. The types of marketing activities depend on your goals and the stage of your writer’s career. A Mailing list is a great and power tool when it comes to marketing your work, and I highly recommend to all indie authors to work on building it. But even a great social media presence and a few-thousand-subscribers mailing list, may not be enough. In today’s market, you have to pay to play, so get ready to invest into Facebook and Amazon ads.

5. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Currently, I have two books published and I am getting ready to publish my 3rd novel and a prequel to the series. All four books are part of the Fire Salamander Chronicles which is an Urban Fantasy series. While each book in the series has its own complete story arc, there is also an overall arc that creates a connection between all the books in this series. And the further the story progresses, the stronger the connection between the books in the series become.

6. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Every story in the Fire Salamander Chronicles starts with a prologue where either a historical event or a legend is retold. The prologue sets the entire theme of the story and it is important to get it right. So, I have to do a lot of research, spending hours on reputable websites and in libraries. Since I write in the Urban Fantasy genre, for me it is extremely important to not only understand the real historical event I describe, but also find some mysteries and questions unanswered by historians, which are associated with this event, and explain them using the magic of the Fire Salamander World.

7. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

It is a good question. My main character, Zane Burns, a.k.a. Gunz is a man and there are more male characters in my novels than female. Writing a dialog is probably the most challenging part. It’s been proven by many Psychological studies that men and women respond differently to similar situations that they face. Their speech patterns, the body language and the thinking process can be different as well. So, when I write my male characters, I have to keep all that in mind.

 

If you enjoyed the wise words from N.M. Thorn, then everyone who’s reading this interview should stop what they’re doing and go follow her on all her social media! Her social media links are below. Also, if you want to dive into the world of The Fire Salamander chronicles, you can click on the images above, and they’re direct you to their homes on Amazon.

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/nmthornauthor

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/nmthornauthor

Website

https://www.nmthorn.com

Thanks for stopping by!

The Writer’s Alley

L.C. Conn Blog Tour: Sentinels (The One True Child Series)

LC Conn - Sentinels front.png

L.C. Conn


LC Conn - Author Photo (1).jpg

L.C. Conn

GUEST POST

 

As I sit at my desk on the day of my birthday, I am reflecting over the whole of my forty-eight years on this world. I can’t believe how completely lucky I am to be doing what I love full-time, and how incredibly long it took me to have the courage to do it. I have often come across those little posts on Facebook and Twitter asking: ‘what would you tell your younger self’, and my answer has always been the same. Do what you love sooner.

I grew up one of four children, and the only girl. From early on I remember playing imaginary games; or “what-if” games as our mother called them. We would spend hours rearranging the living room; declaring the floor was the sea or lava (way before it became a viral thing). Our games had us riding tall, ferocious seas, fighting off man-eating sharks and pirates. They also had us climbing mountains spewing lava and fighting through jungles. I look back on those times of our great imagings with enormous fondness and I hope that I have passed that passion for play and make-believe on to my children.

My childhood also afforded me the freedom to roam. Long days on a bicycle going from one end of the valley to the other, and back again, swimming in the river without supervision. All those things that kids these days are told they cannot do, for fear they may hurt themselves. We fell out of trees and climbed the hill behind us, raced our home-made carts down the steepest roads we could find, and stayed out in the sun all summer long. We would leave shortly after breakfast during the summer holidays, and only wandered home for lunch when we got hungry. Then straight back out until the sun went down and the streetlights came on. It was idyllic, and we were so lucky.

Life moves on and school always seemed to get in the way of the imaginary games. I will put up my hand and say, yes, sometimes I let my imagination get away with me at school and may have exaggerated things a little. I look back at those times and realise that it was my creativity trying to find a release. It wasn’t until I was eight that I realised that I could make up stories and not get into trouble for it. That was when I discovered my love of writing. It was thanks to an English test on grammar, that required me to write a story. Oh, what a story. I still remember it, even though I think the paper it was written on has long since disintegrated. A simple story about a hermit crab trying to find a new home by climbing into all sorts of things it found on the sea floor. I remember not finishing that story and the comments from my teacher after she had marked it. She wanted to know how the story ended.

Writing was always something that I did in secret. I never really told anyone and if I did, would often come against laughter and ridicule. It was not something my friends understood. But I persisted. I wrote small pieces and I still have some of them. I refuse to look at them, for fear of cringing at how innocent and unformed they are. I would have dreams that were so vivid, and when I woke, I had the urge to write them down. I have a whole notebook filled with these dreams, which I use as a reference and inspiration now to give me ideas when I am having trouble writing. For years I have done this and then one year it changed.

On 10 December 2006 I lost my mother to cancer, after a very long and hard battle against breast cancer. This insidious disease, spread to her bones, liver and eventually her brain. I was with her when she passed and mourned her greatly along with my brothers and father. She left a large hole in our lives. She had been there for us every day and passed on her great love of reading and stories to me. Her passing had a strange affect on me personally. For a week after her death I had very vivid dreams, and they all seemed to be connected as I wrote them down. After the last one I kept writing. It was the first time I had written a completed long story. It seemed to pour from me. It was not the kind of story I normally wrote, it was a romance/thriller, just what my mother loved to read.

It was also the first time that I let someone else read something I had written, and the response I received was not what I was expecting. It was positive. The friend I finally entrusted this book to read encouraged me to work on it, and to ultimately submit it to a publisher. I did work on it, but I have never sent this one out. It just seems too personal to send somehow, and I think it is too clumsy to be accepted.

After this one was finished I had more vivid dreams and did start another story, but I felt it was too hard to carry on passed the few chapters I started. Ten years would pass before I would write anything really seriously again. And that was only after my own brush with cancer.

In 2014 I had my annual mammogram. I had been having them regularly for the previous four years after moving to Australia. Given my family history, my doctor thought it was a good idea to put me in the programme. Thank you so much for that. I never thought anything of it and carried on with my life for the next few days. Until I received a letter in the mail. An appointment had been made for me at Sir Charles Gardner Hospital’s Breast Clinic as an anomaly had been found. My heart sank. I knew what that meant.

I was scared—that was a given—but the ladies who saw me were lovely. They spoke softly and with great care, they explained what was going to happen and what could happen, and they took great care of us ladies who were all in the same boat. My mammogram showed there was something and a biopsy was ordered for that same day. It came back positive. I was alone. My husband worked away, a FIFO worker out in the oil and gas field at that time. He rang just after I received the news that I had breast cancer, while I was still with the doctor and councillor. There was nothing he could do from so far away, accept listen to me cry. It was hard. I still had the long drive home to pick up my two children from soccer practice.

With my tears dried, and my big-girl panties pulled up, I got on with my life while I waited for surgery and the future ahead. That was the only time I cried about the fact I had got this horrible disease. From the moment I saw my children that afternoon walking towards me—with big smiles, laughing and joking together—I decided I was going to be positive about this thing that had invaded my body. I put a smile on my face and went to meet them and explained there and then what had happened and what was likely to happen. Their reaction remains with me today. “You got this Mum, you can beat it.”

I spent the rest of that year going through surgery (lumpectomy, no mastectomy), chemo and radiation. I got through my bad days watching Mrs. Brown’s Boys and laughing. I slept a great deal but looked after my family. I took myself to my appointments and got on with my life. I know not everyone who has breast cancer reacts the same way, but it was they only way I knew how to get through it. I had my mother as an amazing example.

For my first-year clear diagnosis I went out and celebrated with a tattoo. A black a grey piece which is on my left ankle, the side of my cancer. It is of a dragon rising from smoke and symbolises new life. That is what I felt I had been given. It was not long after that that I finished the first in a series of seven books. I didn’t have a name for it, I didn’t even know it was going to be a series. But I was proud of it, and again it came from a dream. I had dreamt I was running away from someone, down a busy street, through traffic and ending up in an abandoned theatre. Of a tall man standing over me dressed in a long overcoat, saying “Come on, Kid; we don’t have all night.” It still amazes me that from that one simple dream a whole series was born.

I sent it to my best friend to read. She loved it and wanted to know what happened next. So, you can blame her for the series really. As I wrote I gained more confidence and allowed others to read it. With their encouragement I started to submit to publishers in all my innocence of how these things work. My naivety was laughable. I had no idea of what I was doing, and I look back now and shake my head at my actions. After connecting with others online, who were either streaks ahead or just starting out like me, I learned a lot and began to self-publish with a little success. My knowledge grew and so did my writing style. I had finished the series bar one, when an online friend suggested I submit to a little publishing company, I did and was greatly surprised when they took me on. Thank you, Cherie, for having such faith in me and my work and to Tamara for polishing my raw material.

I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support of my family and friends. Without those moments in time where my life changed dramatically. And as I look back on my forty-eight years, I realise something. I shouldn’t tell my younger self to start doing what you love sooner. I was already doing it. I just had to wait and be patient for the life experiences to give me the material I needed to get it done. Without the loss of my mother and my own battle I would never have thought up the theory of Order vs Chaos. Of the embodiment of Chaos as cancer and my heroine, Carling, as me facing that odious creature.

I have been blessed. With an amazingly supportive husband; two wonderful, beautiful and caring children; a wider family who I am so proud to be a part of. Blessed also with friends who encourage and build me up. I have been blessed with a new life and enough energy to tackle it. I have been blessed with a creative imagination that seems to be endless.

So, to any aspiring writers and especially to my younger self, I say;

Just be yourself, keep experiencing life and keep writing.

****BELOW ARE THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS****

 


CHAPTER EXCERPTS

Sentinels: Book 1 of The One True Child Series

L.C. Conn

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

The rage knew no bounds as he held the world in his fist. He had created it to be his and his alone—for the people he had brought to life to serve only him and his ways. They did not appreciate what he had done for them—they had wanted more, demanded more. Now his rage would be the last thing they knew as he squeezed the world and brought it all to an end, creating a vast explosion that lit up the darkness surrounding him. A pinpoint of light grew and spread, for a moment blinding him, and he roared at his displeasure of it.

The light encompassed all, sending out waves, pulsating deep into the reaches of the universe. Fragments of the old world riding the shockwaves were flung into the depths. Fiery-hot chunks burning brightly spun out of control, attracting rock and minerals to circle them. As the spread of the explosion began to slow, the fragments began to cool. In the centre of the explosion, the bright light continued to shine; from its core, a Being became conscious and rose from the wreckage, glowing brightly with swirls of white light under Its skin.

The Being looked around and found a universe in chaos; order and stability were lost to the winds. It stood and looked out at the remains of a great world, gathering its memories to Itself. One large piece of rock It stood on, circling the star that warmed the ground at Its feet, and the Being began to weep for those who had been destroyed. All the history and the suffering they had endured under their cruel master brought forth great sobs from the Being. The tears It shed dripped down from Its eyes and onto the ground. So many tears for the loss of so many that a river began to run.

The river flowed away from the grief-stricken Being and filled all the low spaces on the rock, collecting into great lakes and seas. The sadness the Being had felt now turned to rage, and It struck the ground with Its fist. The land split, and the great molten core that had not yet cooled swelled up and burst out of the gap It had made. The hot magma created new land and boiled away some of the water, creating a great steam cloud that hung in the sky.

The distant star warmed the ground and condensed the water until the clouds were so sodden that they dropped from the sky. As the rain fell, the sunshine created a perfect form. An arc of light split into seven perfect shades of colour that stood out from the barren and dark landscape. The Being stood on an upthrust of rock and wondered at the amazing vision; It did not see the dark one approaching.

“You are not welcome here; this is my world, my universe. Who are you?” the dark one demanded of the Being. It turned to face the form that approached and recognised him as the being responsible for the turmoil that now reigned over the universe.

“I am from the light. The source of which is due to you, and in this place you shall never have authority. Never again will you oppress a people and use them for your own ends,” the Being said back, Its hands clasped in front of It and a sadness still in Its eye.

“From my destruction came your creation. You are my being and you shall bow down to me and my wishes.” The darkness grew before the light, looming large over It.

“I am the light, the light that will dominate you and put you where you should be. You have no sway over me. The light shall overpower you and keep you at bay; the children I will bring forth onto this land will know light and know its kindness. They shall feed from the crops and animals that the light shall encourage to grow and they will worship you never. They will not know you.”

“You are nothing and puny. I am the great destroyer, the one who rules over life and death. I am the chaos of the universe, and all who reside here shall be my slaves. I destroyed my last creation because they did not worship me in the proper way. If you go against me, I shall destroy you also.”

The Being looked past the evil at the large rainbow and saw it in its magnificence. From the single source of light, the great star that was shining down on the earth, light split as it hit the crystalline drops of rain and splayed out in dazzling colours all arrayed in order. If this monstrosity that stood before the rainbow was Chaos, then this Being who marvelled at the spectacle should be Order.

Slowly Order reached down and drew from the centre of the world the energy that spiralled there. It pulled it in from the area around it and filled Itself up until Order thought It would burst. Order sent out Its will and split Itself into seven, each figure to be a Sentinel to guard the world that Order wanted to protect. A different nimbus of colour swirled under each of their skins: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The seven Sentinels stood together and faced Chaos.

Chaos stood his ground and stared at the beings before him, his anger rising inside at the defiance of the light and what It had done. “You shall not overcome me. I will rule you, no matter how many there are of you—or you shall all die!” he screamed at them.

“We are together; we are order. You will not reign over this world, over these lands. We have come to protect them, and it shall be beautiful and peaceful. Chaos has no place in this world. We banish you and beg you, do not come back to this place,” the seven said together.

“You banish me? You cannot banish me from what is mine! I will crush you and break you. You will bend your knee to me.”

The group lifted up, their own rainbow dancing high into the sky and each split apart to form their own group of seven in order to protect the world from Chaos. They spread across the face of the world, each taking up an area to defend and protect.

Chaos raged against the defiance of him. He fought against their barriers and defences, and the land buckled under the strain of his wrath. A large stone he threw at the world, seeking to destroy it; but it only skimmed the surface and began to circle the world, and there it stayed.

In the land to the north, they formed the great stone circle where Order had first declared Itself a conduit for the power of the beings. Each group sent out over the world to protect a piece of it, their own special areas. Sacred sites were formed in each area to stay connected to the stones and to the original group.

The rage of Chaos slowed, the wounds on the surface of the world still raw and weeping molten rock. Chaos departed to think on how to deal with the problem of the light and Its children. His attack had been useless, and he raged around the universe destroying stars and planets in his path. Meanwhile, the little world flourished and changed in his absence.

Seeing the bare rock, the Beings brought forth the soil to cover it, grinding the surface of the rock to dust and releasing the minerals necessary to start life. The grass to hold it together, plants to decorate and bring shelter and sustenance. At first the groups worked together, then they became interested only in their own pieces to protect. They moulded the landscapes to their liking, emptying great seas and moving land, easing the damage the dark one had inflicted. They created animals, who began to roam the world seeking out new, brighter, and fresher pastures to graze on‒some with the urge for flesh.

Chaos was still out there watching their progress and seething, feeling his own power fade with the lack of worshipers. A large rock swept past him, grazing his shoulder and leaving a trail of vapour and ice in its wake. He took the great rock up in his mighty fist and sent it flying to the world the Beings were creating. It hurtled at great speed and when it hit, it was with great devastation.

It fell to the earth with a mighty explosion, sending debris and ash high into the air. The flames from the explosion spread out with concussive force and almost consumed the tiny planet, destroying all their work in a flash. The cloud from the debris blocked out the sun and to help heal the damaged world once more, the Sentinels called forth ice and snow to cover the land. So thick it lay on the ground that the seas dropped and the stones were buried deeply under the snow.

Chaos watched with great delight at the destruction he had almost caused; he sent more and more in the path of the planet, leaving great craters over the surface, most hitting the circling stone as it protected the world. It was a cold and grey piece, but viewed from the planet, it was beautiful and reflected light in the dark hours. With each attack, the Beings used their abilities to fix and mend the damage, creating great crevasses that filled with water and were inhabited by creatures that would never be seen.

The group that guarded the sacred stones met, and together they began to banish the ice and snow that lay over their lands, the effects of the great impacts from Chaos. Great valleys were left from the carving of the ice, and it pleased them to fill some up with the water left by the enormous melting glaciers. The Beings walked the earth and were unhappy to find that not all the creatures they had carefully created survived the great freeze. Some had adapted, and they looked to that as a sign.

A group to the south had created a creature who seemed to be very hardy and adaptable. These they had made to be in some ways in their own likeness. The creatures learned quickly and soon grew to dominate their environment. They moved about the earth, searching further and further afield, meeting with others and merging together, always adapting to the changing conditions.

At one of the meetings of all groups, they came together so Order could see their work. The Great Light saw and was pleased. It also saw into the future and the necessity to come. As It split again, Its wishes were made known to those who came, and they went out into the world and greeted the nomadic peoples in their areas.

The ice and snow still covered most of the sacred lands, reaching down to the lowlands. Very carefully, the Sentinels cleared the stones and the valley below, where they had met after Order left them. The great pillars of stone stood between them, reaching up into the sky. The greatest of the Sentinels and the closest to the one. They pushed their robes from their faces, feeling the warmth of the closest star as the ash and dust were starting to leave the atmosphere, and sat to discuss the plans of the One. The lights of their colours played in their skin, swirling, sparkling and dancing in the rays of the sun.

Their abilities were sharper and more intense, than those sent out into the world. As they leant up against the stones, they connected with the others, and the collected knowledge was then passed into the stones along with the enormous energy from the earth itself.

Sitting forward, Blue addressed his brothers and sisters. “Order has given Its wishes plainly; we must do as It commands. Our purpose to mate and pass the abilities on to the people to come is important for the survival of the world.”

“It must be so. We must go out and find those who wish to live in our lands peacefully,” Red said.

“It does not matter if they wish to be peaceful. These people will fight for survival and to protect their own. I have already seen it,” Green added.

“Do we all agree that the abilities will be passed to these people and down the line?” Indigo inquired.

“It is the will of Order that it is so; we must obey,” Violet commanded.

“My brothers and sisters, our lands are the most sacred and must be protected well. The need to have one of these people we create to guard the way to these stones is also important to protect the sacred stones and the access to our knowledge. This line should be constant and unbreakable,” Blue spoke.

“I should like to offer one of my line to the task. It shall be bred in them to be so linked to this place. The valley below shall be their home,” Red said.

“It is barren and bare; there are no resources there to sustain them,” Orange protested.

Yellow stood and went to the edge. In her hand she created a great staff, and she plunged it into the ground. A mighty crack split the rock and water poured forth, tumbling down the hill and spreading fast into the valley. When she returned, the staff was gone.

“There; water is a must for the survival of these people. As for food, we shall place plants and game generously so they can be sustained,” Yellow told them.

“I have seen these people; some strip the area bare and move on, leaving nothing of sustainable value behind,” Green told them.

“Then I shall teach them to harvest wisely and only take what they need. If you could keep your own lines from the area, it will sustain them,” Red asked.

“They will need to breed with others; I do not think it wise that they breed with themselves,” Violet spoke up.

“Others will come to seek wisdom from the light here at the stones. They will have contact with the outside world,” Orange said.

“Are we in accord, then?” Green asked.

“We are,” they each intoned.

“We will then part and find those that we need.” Indigo called the meeting to an end.

The Sentinels wandered the sacred lands; from themselves, they created the blood lines they needed. Red’s line he secured as soon as possible to the valley below the stones. In the river at the end of the valley, fish, large and fat, sustained them as well as the berries and other fruits of the forest that hid the valley from view. The line of protectors he bore was strong in both ability and physical strength, dark of hair and with bright blue eyes. The task to protect the stones Red left to the female line. The other people he fathered were spread wide, all distributed to guard the ways to the stones. They took to themselves the sigil of a boar—tenacious and hardy, protective of its young.

Orange went to the west and had the most land to care for—mostly rugged and hard to work, mountainous with great deep lochs and islands that stood alone out in the sea. The children he created were a strong, warrior-like people who took to the water and mountains alike. An eagle became their sigil, as it flew so high and could see so far. The water people became raiders, and those in the mountains were wild but loyal.

Yellow had lands just to the south of Red—arable and beautiful, with rolling hills and valleys. Her people grew crops, fished, and hunted. They lived in large family groups and were creative. They tended to roam the area, never settling down in one place for long. A bear they took for their own sigil. Ferocious in a fight, but tender-hearted.

Green headed south and had the smallest of the lands. His people became diplomats and traders. They were wise but also fiercely protective of the border. They were sometimes slippery to deal with but were never deceitful. A serpent became their sacred symbol.

Blue went north and east. His coast line was rugged and bore the brunt of the heavy weather that blew in from the great sea. Great forests covered the inland parts, and the game that lived there was plentiful. The people he brought there and fathered were hardy, determined, and proud of their lands. A great horned stag they took for their symbol.

Indigo’s people were cunning and wily. Their lands were to the south and had the largest border, which they protected jealously. Their skills sent themselves out to learn as much as possible from others; they were loyal to those who helped them and their family. The wolf was a perfect fit as their sacred animal.

Violet’s lands were to the east, and the only Sentinel she had no boundary with was Orange. Her people were gentle and peaceful. They were well protected and placed in the land. With highlands and coastal plains, they were leaders and planners. Their personalities could be big and brash, but their hearts generous and loving. Bullish sometimes by nature, the great horned bovine became their symbol.

Wandering the lands, the Sentinels grew their bloodlines, gently protecting the families that would play an important part in the future Order had seen. Red and Orange tampered quite a bit with their descendants, creating many warriors utilising the strength and mind-touch abilities. Indigo and Violet tended more towards intelligence in their people, creating those who were strong in the mental abilities. Green produced those who became adept at healing and the use of plants, also Whisperers. Yellow and Blue distributed their abilities to their people equally. While the other Sentinels sired many sons and daughters, this final pair was very careful on how many descendants they produced.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

“And that, my children, is how the world came to be,” Tarl’a told the boys, their eyes bright as they pulled the covers tighter over themselves. The wind howled outside the small hut.

“Ma, we are descended from Red, then?” the oldest of the boys asked.

“Yes, Galen; we are. We were born to look after the stones, but that is not for you or your brothers to worry about. It is always the women who watch the stones.”

“But we have no sisters,” he spoke plainly.

“I am still young enough to have more children, Galen. Now sleep, all of you.”

Tarl’a moved back to the fire and to the side of her husband, Mailcon. He put his arm around her as she began to sing a quiet song to send the boys to sleep.

“There have been no more children for some time now, my love,” he said to her quietly once the boys were asleep.

“There is still time, Mailcon.”

“You should go to the stones and seek the Ancestors’ help. I am sure they will help you conceive the daughter you so desperately want.”

“I will go next summer if there is no child before then. Loc is only two summers old now. There is still time,” Tarl’a said adamantly.

Mailcon drew her closer and they lay together beside the warm fire. He kissed her gently and they joined together as they had on so many long winter nights. But in her heart, she knew it would do no good. The feeling of no more children was overwhelming her; she had no daughter to pass the task on to, and that worried her the most.

 

In the morning as Tarl’a made the long trek up the hill to the sacred stones, she stopped at the spring, drank her fill, and then rounded the up-thrusting rock that protected the stones. Standing at the entrance, she waited. Normally her Ancestor would not take long to answer her call, but today she waited for a long time. She was about to give up when a shimmer of light flickered at the entrance and formed into a being whose light shone brightly.

Being so used to the red hue of her Ancestor, this one startled her and she took a step back at the staggering presence of Order.

“Tarl’a, daughter of our son, you seek guidance.”

She sank to her knees and bowed to him, the One. Order came and lifted her up. “We do not seek your reverence; we do not seek adulation. We do not set ourselves up as gods,” It said gently.

“I only sought guidance from my Ancestor; I never thought that you yourself would ever appear to me.” She still held Order’s hand, and slowly It drew her into the circle.

“We came to seek your permission to put a plan into action,” Order told her as they reached the centre.

“My permission?”

“Yes child. We would not force this request onto you; we are not Chaos. This must first be agreed upon and discussed greatly before it can happen.”

“What is it you wish from me?”

“You came seeking understanding as to why there have been no more children for you in the last two turnings of the seasons. It is as we wish. If you say no to our request, you shall have the child you have wished for—a daughter.”

“And what is this request?”

“That, my child, is a great burden that we are afraid may be heartbreaking and hard for you to take on. If you take on our request, there shall be no more children for you and Mailcon. You have your four boys, one of whom the protector line shall pass through; this we have allowed. The task we ask of you is to foster a special child—a girl. The hopes and fate of this world shall rest heavily on her tiny shoulders.”

“Who is this girl—where does she come from?”

“The child will be born from two of our children, a true child. It has always been forbidden, this type of union, but she is a necessity. Chaos will become stronger and more of a threat to this world, and that cannot be allowed to happen. This child shall become even greater in the abilities than our children. She will come to possess the energy of the universe, and will hopefully one day defeat Chaos.”

“Why do you wish for us to foster her? She should be trained by her parents, by you.”

“Tarl’a, through the guidance of you and Mailcon, through your understanding and love for her, will she grow to have the traits that will be necessary. The child would not get that from her parents. She would be too much like them; though they are not arrogant, their sense of self-worth would be passed to her. We have thought long and hard about this child. You and Mailcon, as the descendants of their brother and sister, are the perfect pair to bring this child up. We do not ask you to take this on lightly; we ask you to go and think about it and talk with Mailcon.”

“I will think about it.” Tarl’a nodded.

Order placed a hand on her head. “Our blessings and love be upon you. Go in peace until we meet again, Tarl’a. We will wait for your answer. Take your time and make sure you know what it is you are taking on.”

When Tarl’a looked up, Order was gone and she was left with a singing in her heart. As far as she could remember, no one had ever been visited by the Great Light before.

 

Mailcon stood at the door as his wife came back down the hill; he could see already that something momentous had been revealed to her.

“Galen, take the boys and go collect deadfall for the fire,” he told his eldest son.

“Yes, Da.” The young boy, only six summers old, gathered his brothers up; taking the youngest by the hand, he led them down the valley towards the woods that hid the entrance.

Mailcon waited for Tarl’a to get nearer, and she gave him a weary smile. “There was no need to send the boys off,” she said as she entered the small house.

“The set of your face suggested otherwise to me. What did your Ancestor have to say?”

“It was not Red I met with at the stones.” She turned to him with a worried frown.

“Which one was it? Was it mine, Violet?”

“No. Mailcon, it was Order.”

Mailcon stood looking at her. “Order? The Highest Being?”

“Yes.” Tarl’a sat by the fire and stirred it to life, placing a pot on the edge.

“Why would Order appear to you? Order has never done this before.”

“No, not to my knowledge has anyone been so blessed. But I was today. The power that emanates from the Being is immense.”

“Are you able to tell me what Order wanted?”

“Yes; we need to discuss this very carefully. It is a great honour that will be bestowed on us, but one that comes with disappointment, I think, for you.”

“What is it? You are scaring me.”

“Order wishes us to foster a girl, a very special girl.”

“Is that all? Of course we will take her in.”

“Mailcon, it would mean there would be no more children for us. If we refuse, we will have one more child—a girl. But if we take this child in, she will become our daughter.”

“Who is this girl and why are we being asked?”

“A true child of the Ancestors. Born of two from Order, not from a mere mortal. She is needed to battle Chaos; her abilities will be great and stronger than the Ancestors themselves. We have been asked to take her in and raise her as our own, to give her the necessary human traits that Order thinks she will need to defeat Chaos.”

Mailcon sat beside her as he poked the fire. Tarl’a started to place grain and meat into the boiling water in the pot, beginning the meal for the evening.

“Think on it, Mailcon. It is something we must agree on together,” she told him and then stood to see where the boys were.

In the quiet of the house with just the crackling of the fire, he contemplated the great task that lay before him and his wife. The prospect of not having any more children came to him, but either way there would be one child, a girl. He poked the fire one more time, watching the embers flare and glow brightly.

“My son,” a sweet voice said beside him. He looked up and saw the softly glowing form of Violet. She sat beside him and smiled.

“My Ancestor, you do me honour by visiting me here at our hearth,” he greeted her.

“I sense a great worry in you, my son. I have already talked to the two who have been asked this task and assured them that their child would be in no better hands than those of yourself and Tarl’a. Red is of the same opinion. I feel your hesitation.”

“When you sent me here, I thought I would be given some great task. Instead I found myself falling in love with Tarl’a. Is this the task you sent me here for? To raise this child?”

“It is, my son. We have been planning this child since Order first made us aware of her necessity.”

“I am not worried about having no more children; we have our four boys. I am only worried for Tarl’a’s sake.”

“Your wife will love this child without question or hesitation. She is waiting for you alone to make the decision. She comes back.” Violet stood and waited for Tarl’a to duck under the doorway.

As she straightened up, her eyes grew wide.

“Violet, you do us a great honour.”

“No, daughter of my brother, you and my son do us a great honour by even considering what has been asked of you.”

“We have not decided,” Tarl’a told her.

“No, you have not, and we await your decision eagerly. I will leave you. My blessings on you both and your sons.”

“Thank you, Violet. Until we meet again,” Mailcon said, coming to his feet and standing with his wife.

The Ancestor disappeared, and they were left alone. The noise of the boys coming back to the hut floated in through the door, and Tarl’a turned to her husband.

“Was she demanding an answer?”

“No. She would not do that. Only encouraging. I think either way we will have a daughter. We should be honoured that we have been asked to take on the role of parents to the child. Will you be all right, knowing you did not birth her?”

“A little saddened that the line will not follow my own true daughter’s. But Order told me that it shall pass through one of our boys. Are you sure you want to take this on, Mailcon?”

He took her in his arms and held her. “Yes, I am sure. She will be loved and cared for, and she will be well protected until she comes into her abilities.”

“Then it is settled. We will go to the stones tomorrow and let them know,” Tarl’a declared.

“Da, Ma!” The call came from outside, and Galen put his head in the doorway. “We have visitors.” He ducked back out and the couple exited.

Before them stood a dazzling array of colour in a semi-circle around the house. They came towards the couple, and as they closed in together they merged into the one light. Order held out Its hands to them both.

“Thank you, our children. It has gladdened our hearts to know that you will look after this child.”

“It is our honour, Order,” Mailcon told him.

“The child will be born, as is the order of these things, in nine months hence. When we leave, we shall leave the two that are to birth her for you to get to know. A protection shall be placed over this valley. It shall only be allowed to be entered by those who come to seek true knowledge from the stones and protect you from those of ill intent, including Chaos. The child must grow up here in this valley for the protection to work. She cannot leave, or we cannot guarantee that Chaos will not find out about her.”

“We understand,” Tarl’a said.

Order turned and looked at the four boys all lined up in order; he came to stand in front of Galen, the eldest. “Galen, you shall be a great warrior with strength and flight abilities, and a protector.” He went to the next. “Ru, I see a guide with stealth and tongues, a peacemaker also; your life will take you far and wide. Uven, a healer and mind touch—perfect for an advisor. And finally, Loc. Animals will come from near and far to talk with you, but be careful you don’t fall too deeply into their midst; you shall also possess the ability of foresight.”

Each child looked up in awe at the magnificent being. The blessing Order had bestowed on each boy was more than they would have gotten in the normal way.

“Each of these abilities will be necessary for the protection of the child. I must go now and leave you all to your lives. Yellow and Blue will tell you more. My blessings and love are on you both, Tarl’a and Mailcon.” Order’s last words floated away as It disappeared, and in Its place were two.

Yellow and Blue stood before them. “We find, Tarl’a and Mailcon, that we are in need of your guidance,” Yellow said softly, blushing.

 

Tarl’a’s view of the Ancestors changed that afternoon. While she had always thought of them as being all-knowing and aware, she now found that when it came to relationships between women and men, it was a different story. This confused her and she tried a few times with Yellow to find out how they had mated with the people, always stopping herself, unable to put it into words.

“Is it always necessary to have affection for the person you wish to mate with?” Yellow asked naively.

“No. Most find that it is a necessary part of the process,” Tarl’a said, embarrassed to be talking about it. “Sometimes a man can mate without consideration for his partner’s feelings or wishes.”

“He can force himself on a woman?”

“It has happened and sometimes the other way around as well. A man can be led easily into that state.”

“As you have suggested.”

“Yellow, may I ask you a question that may seem to be intrusive?”

“You may, Tarl’a.”

“How is it you have mated with the people but are so unaware of how to go about it?”

“Ah, yes, that word may be a little misleading. We do not mate as the people do; we are not built the same as you. This form is my own choosing; I can change it as I see fit.” Yellow’s body evolved fluidly into that of a tall, muscular, and very good-looking man and then changed back. “As you see. When we mated with the nomadic people who came to our lands, we put an essence of ourselves inside each child as it lay in the womb. We passed the abilities that way, some of us more strongly and some of us more frequently than others.”

“Is that still the case with each child?”

“No. The abilities are now in the people. They will remain so until such a time that all necessity for the abilities is at an end—and Chaos has been defeated and cast out of this world for good.”

“Will such a day come, Yellow?”

“We hope with our child, the One True Child of the Ancestors, that it will be so.”

“You would give up your child to be fostered by us?”

“Yes. It is necessary for us to do so. I am not equipped to bring up a child properly who will be one of the people. I have already seen that I will love her and care for her down the ages. Her spirit will remain the same, as will her name.”

“You have already chosen it?”

“Very carefully, Tarl’a.”

“Can you tell me her name?”

“No, not until I place her into your arms. If I speak her name, she will already be in danger. A name is a great talisman for her. Her true name, when spoken, is a herald of her abilities. There will be a time in the far-off future when she will be called another name, but her true name will always be there, written across her spirit.”

“You speak of a future; how can she live to be that old?”

“You have foresight, Tarl’a; cannot you see the future for my daughter?”

“I cannot; I have not met her yet.”

“We shall talk again when I bring her to you and you will see what I see. She will be a great woman with a great capacity for love, and it is love she needs to deal with her tasks and trials.” Yellow stood from the meadow where she had sat with Tarl’a.

The sun was beginning to go down on such a strange day; the final rays over the tops of the forest at the valley’s end were orange and golden laced with purples on the clouds above. Yellow faced the sun and breathed in deeply, the swirling colours under her skin bright points of light that glowed momentarily.

“Thank you, Tarl’a. I understand now the relationship between a woman and a man. I understand now more greatly the way a child is conceived. How I envy your ability to love a single man.”

“You do not feel love for Blue?” Tarl’a asked, standing now before Yellow.

“I feel affection for my brother, but not the love you so evidently have for your Mailcon. We are not permitted that kind of love. We are Sentinels. Guardians, Coimheadair, Ancestors, Ancient Ones are how we will be known. But as Sentinels it is our purpose to protect the world, guarding against Chaos, who inadvertently created both Order and us.” Yellow looked up and saw Blue and Mailcon walking towards them. “Would you consider Blue to be handsome?”

Tarl’a turned and watched the pair walk towards them. “Amongst The People, some would consider him to be an extremely handsome man, and many a heart would flutter over him. For myself, I find that he is too handsome.”

“Thank you for your honesty,” Yellow said and went to meet the pair.

Blue held his hand out and she placed her own in his. To Tarl’a it almost appeared as if Yellow were blushing at the physical contact. Within moments, both Ancestors had vanished from sight with the last of the sun’s rays. Mailcon came to her side and placed an arm around her waist.

“That had to be the most embarrassing conversation I have ever had.” He smiled as they walked back to the house.

“You will have four more to make as they grow.” Tarl’a laughed, watching their boys playing around the house.

“At least now I have had some practice.” He joined her laughter.

 

Tarl’a sat up in the middle of a stormy night; a voice had called to her in her dream and she was compelled to answer it. She got up and started to gather some things around her.

Mailcon woke with her movements and watched her for a moment before speaking.

“What are you doing?” he whispered so as not to wake the children.

“I have to go to the stones,” she told him, standing, now prepared.

“It is the middle of the night and there is a storm.”

“It is important, Mailcon. It’s the child,” she said and ducked out the door.

The wind whipped up around her, throwing sheets of water into her face and drenching her within moments, pulling and tearing at her clothes. Pushing through the tempest, she headed to the track on the hill, knowing where she was going in the inky darkness of the night. At the base of the hill a light shone into the blackness, a dark and deep colour; Indigo nodded as Tarl’a passed her and followed on up the track. At the next switch was Violet, a soft, warm light emitting from her. At each turn she was met—Green, Orange, Red, and finally Blue. At the last turning she was met with Order, glowing brightly and illuminating the way to the great circle of stones.

In the centre she found Yellow; the swirling colours under her skin raced now with the effort she was feeling of birthing the child. Tarl’a did not notice the drop in the wind or the absence of the rain as she entered the circle, coming to the Ancestors side.

“How far along are you?” she asked the woman.

“I don’t know; help me, please, Tarl’a. I was not meant to give birth.”

“Let me check.” Tarl’a’s experience with her own four births came back to her as she checked Yellow. “It won’t be long; I can already feel the head.”

Yellow’s brothers and sisters all stood around the circle, placing themselves in between the great tall standing stones. Order had taken the place that would normally have been taken up by Yellow. All the Sentinels raised their hands and started to chant, the language unknown to her and unheard, as Tarl’a concentrated on Yellow and helping her.

The birth was long, and the storm that Yellow’s emotions had whipped up raged outside the circle. Inside she screamed out to the world, her hands grasping at the grass underneath her until with one great, final effort the child was born into the hands of the woman who would raise her. Tarl’a wiped the child and bundled the little girl up into the blankets she had brought, and then handed her to Yellow to hold.

Carefully, Yellow unwrapped the girl and stood. The parts of her she had changed so she could carry the baby were now gone, no longer needed. The pain she had felt was forgotten and was never to be remembered. But the love she instantly had for the little girl in her arms was immense, and she transferred as much as she could to the child.

Tarl’a stood back as the Ancestors all drew in close to see the girl, to bless her. Yellow passed her into the arms of Order and It held a hand over her tiny head; with eyes closed, Order saw the potential in the child and all the children down her line. Order nodded and smiled, then handed the child to Blue.

His own blessing he made on his daughter as he bent down and kissed her forehead. His own love he passed to her to join that of Yellow’s, then passed her to her mother.

“Tarl’a, it is time,” Yellow said as she still gazed into the blue eyes of her daughter.

Tarl’a came forward now and stood before them all. As each passed her and stepped out of the circle, they gave her their own blessing. With just Blue, Yellow, and Order standing before her now, she accepted the child into her arms.

“The child has a name; we spoke of it once before. It is now passed to you, but still you must not speak it until you are safely back inside your house. Take care of her, Tarl’a; let her know her parents love her.”

“I will, Yellow. I will love her and protect her, but also let her know how special she is.”

“No; she must grow with no preferential treatment, no special notice. The girl must grow strong in love of a family. We place her in your care along with Mailcon’s to raise her as your own,” Order told her.

“We will do so.” Tarl’a bowed her head. When she looked up, the three had already started to move to the entrance and she turned to follow them.

As she descended with the precious bundle in her arms, the Sentinels once more guided their way in the dark of the night, their lights shining the path for her. The storm had abated and the clouds gave way to the starry sky above, a meteor show streaking golden across the inky sky. But she had no eyes for the wonder of the sparkly display.

They stayed with her until she reached the little house. Each once more blessed the child as she passed them on her way to the door, last of all Yellow with one final kiss for her daughter.

Tarl’a entered the house and found the fire built up and glowing brightly. At the side was Mailcon, dozing with his chin on his chest. He woke with a start at her touch and she sat beside him, unwrapping the child.

“What is her name?” he asked her with wonder as he took the baby from her arms.

“Carling.” The name came to her as clearly as if it had been called out into the room. “Carling is her name.”

Little Champion. It is truly a fitting name for her. She is so beautiful and perfect.”

 

LC Conn - Sentinels full.png

AUTHOR PROFILE

L.C. CONN

 

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

 

 

 

MEDIA LINKS

L.C. CONN

 

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/LCConn
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ConnLoraine

INSTAGRAM: https//www.instagram.com/l.c.conn
WEB PAGE: https//lcconnwriter.wordpress.com/


 

PURCHASE LINKS

L.C. CONN

 

The One True Child Series.

Sentinels: https://t.co/mjUv5CW7KS

Carling: https://t.co/zGBFSNMxc9

Claire: https://t.co/cJWS1h85lJ

Guardians: https://t.co/fAc5PJ2dox

Guest Blog Week Round 9

tl-bio-cropped.jpg

Tanya Lisle


Every week, I talk to a bunch of writers and we inevitably talk about writing. We travel between topics, but one thing that comes up over and over again is if an idea is worth writing. Is it marketable? Has this been overdone? Did someone else already do this better? Will anyone even want to read this?

So I’m going to tell you like I’ve told them.

Don’t worry so much. You haven’t even written it yet. Stop telling yourself why it’s not going to work and just give it a shot.

You’ll be okay.

Really.

You want to write a story about how love and friendship turns into rainbows that save the day? Just do it. Vampire love story? Have a blast! A story about the chosen boy at a magical school defeating a dark lord? That could be a lot of fun! Get mad at the Marvel fanboys over their reaction to Disney buying them out? Add in fridges getting thrown about and that could be a whole series!

But what if no one reads it? It’s been done! It won’t sell! There’s no way it will be any good! There’s no point!

Try it anyway.

You’ll have fun. You’ll learn things. And even if it’s not going to work, you might be able to take parts of it and use it elsewhere.

Just write it. Sit down and try to get a few words of it on the page and see if the story makes you feel excited. If just writing it isn’t really your style (Looking at you, my other plotter people out there) then plot it. Play around with the idea and see if the story works. Talk to people and talk through the story to see if they get as excited about the idea as you do. Don’t give up on the idea so quickly. If it’s not hurting anyone, you might as well give it a shot.

You might have something amazing on your hands. You won’t know if you give up on it before you start working through the story and seeing what it could be. If it doesn’t work, you might still be able to use parts of it in another project.

As for if it’s going to be any good, well, that’s what editing is for.

Deep breath.

You can do it.

Just write.



Tanya Lisle is the author of young adult urban fantasy stories with a dash of horror including The Looking Glass Saga, City Without Heroes, and White Noise.

wntrio-gp.jpg

Guest Blog Week Round 8

MxZ4N5jv_400x400.jpg

Nick Andre

 

School and 40


Waking up everyday to chase your dreams and work an 8 hour day is never easy. The daily routine that I go through on a daily basis would wear any human being down. Each day I’m a step away from having the career that I want and I work extremely hard to make sure that I secure it. But I also have to make sure that the bills are paid and that there is food on the table. It’s a major sacrifice that has to be made in order for me to achieve my goals. I sit in class everyday trying to understand what it takes for me to become the greatest that I can be. There are times where I’m sit there lost due to many reasons. Sometimes it could be due to lack of sleep, sometimes it’s from the fact that I have no idea what my professor is talking about whatsoever. The challenges are there for me at school and then I have to carry it all with me when I go straight to work right after. When I go to work, there’s various things that can bring stress to you. Working in retail, there could be an angry customer that could give you a hard time, there could be another employee not doing their job correctly, or even a manager could ask you to do a difficult task that you know you can’t handle on your own. There are moments where deep down I want to just get up and quit but I understand that I must make sure that my finances are good and I keep my priorities maintained. Although it may be a struggle, going to college and work isn’t always bad. You have your good days and then you have your bad days. But once again there is a sacrifice that comes with this life. Less time with friends, more time staying up late studying, but in the end it’s all worth it. At this very moment, I’m halfway done with college and I cannot stop at this point. My goal is to continue with school and working 40 hours each week and eventually receive my degree that I know I worked very hard for. 

IMG_0256.JPG

Guest Blog Week Round 7

MdECRjUb_400x400.jpg

Diana Ferris

 

Hello dear readers, my name is Diana Ferris. I am a Latina Romance Writer who was born in Lima Peru but was raised in the good old USA. I started writing when I was about fifteen years old. This was back when Harry Potter was all the rage and Mugglenet had a chat room where people used to post their stories in the comments section. I used to wake up early on the weekends, even though I am notorious for sleeping in. I didn’t care if the stories were badly written or the punctuation was off, all I knew was that I had discovered a world within a world. After many months of just sitting on the computer reading all these wonderfully creative stories that included my favorite characters, I felt the inclination to write but I was nervous about how it would be received, so I didn’t. For months I agonized until one day I just happened to be reading a simple short story and thought, “I could do this.” and thus began my journey into the wonderful world of daydreaming and putting it on paper. For once my crazy thoughts weren’t useless and people seemed to really like it. I felt powerful at a time that I was powerless. Literature in general saved me from despair and so I fell in love until I was forced to stop by family members who just didn’t understand. Depression hit pretty quickly after that and it stuck for fifteen years. I kept making excuses to not read or write. “I have too many responsibilities. I have a kid to raise.” Unfortunately, those excuses where a way for me to hide the fact that I felt inadequate and like I didn’t deserve the praise that thirsted for. You see by the time I was 23 I was married and had just had a baby. I had no outlet beyond what was expected of me and for a long time I began to fade. I was no longer just myself. Now, I was just someone’s wife and mother. I felt myself beginning to disappear and lose the person that I truly was. All the voices and stories in my head were stuck and I felt ready to explode for I had no way to quiet them. I don’t suffer from Schizophrenia, but if you are a writer you will understand that your stories tend to have a life of their own. Hell, at times you have no control of what you plan on writing and instead end up with a story that is entirely different than what you first expected. Going back to my history, I ended up in a hospital with severe depression and I had to deal with it for a long time, which I did and finally, I was able to function correctly where duties are concerned, but I felt empty. Finally, at thirty years old, I was sitting in my house, in front of my computer looking at the same Youtube videos for the tenth time in a row. I looked around the quiet living room, curtains drawn, seven-year-old kid in school whose needs were not as intense as before therefore, I didn’t need to be as involved. I was alone again, except this time I had no one to stop me from reading or even writing. I felt the need to reach out and from there I made a Tumblr profile and began to fangirl over a new book called The Hunger Games. I read fanfiction after fanfiction and began to make friends that I could see myself in. Finally, within the year I decided to try my hand at writing again. I was rusty as hell and I made many mistakes, but somehow people flocked to my stories and often asked for more. It’s been two years since I’ve started that Tumblr page and things have changed. I’ve rediscovered my passion and finally, there is no one to stop me. In fact, I have the most support I’ve ever had in my entire life. I feel whole again, like I finally have purpose and something to call my own. For once I won’t be known as someone’s mother or wife, but I’ll be known for what I love to do, which is to write. I’ve begun to get to know myself and to make decisions that are in my best interest. I still suffer from anxiety and depression and at times my PTSD gets in the way of my passion but now, I’m kinder to myself, more forgiving of my failings and instead choose to focus on bettering my skills. I’ve come a long way but all I can say is that although writing will never be easy or always enjoyable (I really hate editing.) I know for once, that whatever I am doing is worthwhile. I am worthwhile

Guest Blog Week Round 6

Author Picture_tst.jpg

Tanya S. Thamkruphat

 

Living and Learning from the Self-Publishing Dream

 

By Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat

 

I started consistently writing poetry in 2015, after the ending of a painful divorce. I have been writing poetry regularly for the last three years, and I can confidently say I found my writing niche. I started posting poems I would write on the fly on my social media accounts, and discovered a huge supportive and growing poetry community. I also discovered poetry authors, mainstream and indie ones alike. I was enthralled by their writing and their writing journey, especially the indie authors. Self-publishing had been a trend for the last handful of years at the time, and it was growing. And, I was very interested.

 

By the beginning of 2018, I already had enough poems to make into two full-length books. I started editing all the poems I had, and then started thinking about how to divide my poems into books and thread a theme through them. Once that was done, I pitched my first poetry book in April 2018 to a famous publisher who was home to many of the popular and trendy Instapoets. In that same month, I participated in National Poetry Month by attempting to write a poem a day. I ended up writing 23 poems, and 20 of those formed my first self-published, poetry book (a chapbook, to be exact), Life Instructions. However, I didn’t publish the book until the very end of 2018. I was holding out for a response from the publisher about my full-length poetry book. I realized by fall 2018 I wasn’t going to get a response, and was a bit disappointed. My almost daily writing decreased, and I started to lose hope, even though I had only submitted to one publisher. I perked up again when there was a submission call from another big publisher. I took that first full-length poetry book and submitted my pitch to them. Since authors wouldn’t be selected until early 2019, I decided to take a leap, and self-publish Life Instructions.

 

Self-publishing has been a learning experience! I started where most writers have, and that was with Amazon KDP. Formatting Life Instructionsfor the Kindle e-book version was very straight forward, and there were plenty of articles, videos, and tools to help me format my book. That took me less time than it did with formatting my book for the paperback version. I had a very difficult time keeping the formatting the way I wanted for the paperback, even with the templates provided by Amazon. And, in no time, my book was self-published.

 

I can understand why editors, peer reviewers, book cover designers, and book formatters are important and why it is definitely worth paying for necessary editing and design services. However, it was so fulfilling to able to do everything myself, from the content creation to packaging content.

 

Once Life Instructionswas released, I was ecstatic. A dream had finally come to life! I wanted all of my family and friends to know, but I didn’t promote my chapbook much because part of my writing goal wasn’t to spend time to intensely promote my release. If people bought it, that was great and I was very appreciative. If they didn’t, that was great, too. I just wanted to share my joy that I realized my writing dream.


I will say self-marketing is overwhelming, and I know it’s important if you want people to discover your writing. However, I have learned that I am okay with casually promoting my writing when I feel like it. I would rather focus on writing and self-publishing. And, that makes me most happy as a writer.

 

Submitting to publishers is still a learning experience to become more patient. But, I have learned a lot about myself as a writer and about my writing, and I am glad to have opportunities to submit to publishers, if I feel like it. Self-publishing has been a freeing and joyous experience. You truly feel like well-rounded author because you not only are in charge of the writing side, but you are also in charge of the editing/publishing side of it.

 

There are still plenty of lessons to learn as I continue my self-publishing journey, but I am glad to finally to be traveling it.

Guest Blog Week Round 5

Marketing vs Indie Publishing (or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Interwebs.)

 

If you’re an artist of any persuasion, it’s a pretty great time to be alive.  Never has it been easier to create, showcase, and (most importantly) sell work by writers, artists, actors, filmmakers, musicians, etc.  Thanks to the internet I connected with my illustrator in Mexico, (I happen to be in Pennsylvania, USA) to my distributor ComixCentral.com to anyone anywhere in the world.

Now the flip side to this coin is that with no middle men, there aren’t any middle men. No, that wasn’t a typo, but an unusual fact that can sometimes be a bit of a hassle for newbie comic book creators. One of the major issues I’ve run into since going deciding to go independent has been that the marketing and connections that go with working with a publisher simply aren’t there. The “No one telling me how to write my comic,” also sometimes comes with the “but no one will read it either.”

Now going indie was spurred by two major reasons:

1.    I wanted to decide which artist to work with without a publisher using the buddy system and pairing me with a bigger name (and most likely) bigger ego than mine.

2.    I didn’t want any interference with the subject matter or style I wanted to write in.

I can’t even fault publishers for the buddy system. It reduces the financial risk of putting two unknowns out there. It’s important to remember while this is a collaborative art it is also very much a business.

Now the second reason is a lot more common among indie authors. In some cases it’s just stubbornness on the part of the creator, but in others the subject matter of the book is too mature for most publishers to touch it. Case in point, Smut-Peddler. Smut-Peddler is a quaint pornographic comic anthology that got picked up and then put down multiple times due to the subject matter (consensual sex.)

  What does Smut-Peddler teach us? Censorship guidelines can be obtrusive at the best of times and make no effing sense at the worst. For MusicMaker we deal with a lot of grown-up topics i.e. drug addiction, sex addiction, abuse, suicide, but what really had me biting my nails was the swearing (the sex addiction probably wasn’t going to win any prizes either.)

This is not to say the indie universe is much better. The trade off for the glamour of pure artistic freedom is that if you don’t want to follow the rules of a publisher, readers will expect some major rule breaking. Personally, we sometimes find ourselves in the tricky position of being too hard (he-he-he) for mainstream comics and not hard enough (uh-oh I’m sorry I swear this doesn’t usually happen) for the underground comix crowd.

With social media platforms such as twitter, Instagram and facebook, it’s never been easier to connect with an audience. Much of it boils down to finding the balance between creativity of self and commonality with others. And when you can’t do that, you can always just kill time watching funny cat videos.

 Music Maker Comix

https://www.twitter.com/MusicMakeComix

Guest Blog Week Round 4

J Lewis Author Photo.jpg

J. Lewis

 

Worries of the Writer

First of all, I have to admit that I am a worrier of the tenth degree. Not that I’m happy about it, but I am very good at it. And, I come from a long line of worriers.

 

When I write, I go where the story takes me. Sometimes I have an idea. Sometimes a character surprises me as I write and I follow that lead. I think very little of what a reader might think other than as I write, I aim to present a good story that pushes and pulls the reader along on a pleasant journey. From beginning to end, it takes me about nine months – give or take – to see it from start to publication. Yes, I’m aware of the ironic parallel to giving birth, and while I can’t claim to know the pain of childbirth, for the writer the birth of a book can be as painful as it is satisfying.

 

When I finish the story and edit the heck out of it, that’s when the worry begins. Will I find a publisher? Will someone actually buy it? Will someone enjoy it? Will someone review it positively and speak well enough about it to cause others to want to read it?

 

There is a meme on Facebook by Neil D’Silva that goes something like this: “Only a true author will realize the sheer terror of the slight pause that follows the words: ‘So, I read your book . . .’”

 

Oh, yeah! I know that terror well.

 

Writers do their best to spin a satisfying story. We take time, choose words and phrases carefully. We plant seeds along the way just like Hansel and Gretel dropped white pebbles and bread crumbs. As Keith Urban called his songs ‘his babies’, the writer gives birth to his baby, his book.

 

So, on Thursday, January 17, my newest baby, Spiral Into Darkness is born. I’m proud of the story. I moved the characters from my previous books forward into a new adventure. Several themes move the reader along and crash together at the climax. A question is explored: Is a murderer born or is the murderer made? Good question, really. Hope I did a good job exploring the possibilities, and as the terror begins to tighten around my heart, I hope the reader pauses to think long after the last page is finished.

Spiral Into Darkness eimage-1.jpg

Guest Blog Week Round 3

Srsou8y5_400x400.jpg

S.A. Klopfenstein

 

bLessons Learned from Publishing My First Book

 

 

When I decided to take the plunge and independently publish my YA epic fantasy series, The Shadow Watch, I knew I was in for a lot of work. I knew I would be in charge of the quality in every respect: cover, marketing, editing, etc.

 

I worked my butt off.

 

I released my first book in May 2018. Book Two comes out in March of this year. And overall, the experience has definitely been a success.

 

But as I am preparing for the launch of Book Two, I’ve been reflecting on some things I’ve learned from the first go around. Hopefully, it will be helpful to anyone else setting out on this amazing journey of indie publishing.

 

A FEW THINGS I DID PRETTY WELL THE FIRST TIME


1.     Invest in Quality Editing and Cover Art - I decided that if I was going to publish on my own, I was going to do it as well as I could without breaking the bank. I invested a fair amount of money to hire a professional editor and cover illustrator. I even hired a fantasy map artist to bring my imaginary world to life. I cannot recommend this enough, if you can afford it. There are lots of indie books out there, but a great cover and good editing will make yours stand out immediately from the pack. It is worth the investment, in my opinion.

 

2.     Build a Launch Team - I did not have a giant launch, but I accrued a decent readership online prior to the book’s release, so I decided to invite them to help launch the book, and these early reviews definitely helped get things going. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. There are readers on places like Twitter, and there are even ARC services that will send your book out to readers in exchange for a review (more on this, in the section about my mistakes).

 

3.     Network with Writers Who’ve Done It - I was fortunate enough to have already known a couple people who were publishing on their own very successfully. I reached out for advice on a few things, and they were very gracious to answer my questions. One went out of her way to offer me some ad advice later on, for which I am very grateful. Don’t know anyone? Check out the Facebook group 20BooksTo50K, full of indie authors who are helping one another out. Check out Kboards. There are tons of helpful threads about how to publish your book successfully.

 

 

A FEW THINGS I WISH I’D DONE DIFFERENTLY

 

1.     Plan Launch Stuff Far in Advance - I had intentions of finding book bloggers, and signing up with an ARC service to coincide with my launch. Hidden Gems ARC does an amazing job, but I found out the hard way that they book out 3-6 months in advance. I was too late to do it in time for my launch. Failing to plan ahead hurt me here. I did a later campaign with them that garnered about 20 reviews, and I think this would have helped me out quite a bit if I would have had those reviews at launch. Instead, reviews were fewer and came slower. Amazon’s algorithms favor new releases. And more reviews early on will help you capitalize on the Zon’s favor.

 

Sidenote: Organic reviews are REALLY hard to get, and unless your book is selling like hotcakes, they will trickle in very slowly. Something like 1 in every 100 or so readers. Probably on a good day. So if you are a writer who reads books (which I assume you are), consider giving those authors a hand by leaving a review. It helps so much!

 

2.     Figure out Marketing Before you Publish - I really wish I would have learned more about how to market my book before I hit ‘Publish’. I ran a Facebook ad on the day of my launch, but otherwise, I had no idea what I was doing. Do some research first. I highly recommend the book Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian Meeks. Amazon’s algorithms favor new releases, and this goes for ads too. I definitely would have benefitted from knowing what I was doing on Launch Day. Seriously, once your book goes up and the boosted visibility wears off after a couple weeks or so, ads will be the primary way you generate sales. Organic sales (not triggered by ads) are very rare once your friends and family have quit buying your book! Learn ads, and learn them quick!

 

3.     Be Active on Social Media - I was okay at this, and I am getting better, but there are lots of great people online. This will not only help your visibility, but it will also help you figure out what you’re doing. Lots of people are happy to share things that work for them. Network with other writers on Twitter or Facebook (seriously, join 20BooksTo50K). Boost their content. Be encouraging. Pay it forward and it will come back.

 

 

These things will help you launch a book well. But whatever you do, go easy on yourself. Prioritize. You may not be able to pull off everything you want. I know I couldn’t the first time around. Learn from your mistakes. Keep at it, and get better as you go.

 

 

 

 

S.A. Klopfenstein is the author of the Shadow Watch series of young adult fantasy novels. Check out his books here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C3KLT6K/

81NHhYZv06L.jpg



Guest Blog Week Round 2

23844715_1774843785860249_1144920242232855640_n.jpg

Mikki Noble

 

Writing Advice I’d Give My Younger Self

 

The Important First Line

I pride myself on first lines. I want that first line to feel like a hook sticking out of the side of your cheek that irritates you so bad that you just have to get to the end of the story. We all want that, am I right? Readers and writers both deserve that big hook.

Is it the most important part of the book? Some would say yes. Think about this, you’re in a book store and you have no clue what you want to read, what’s your first move? Go to a certain section? Ask someone? Browse? Then what do you do? You search through titles, picking up random books that tickle your fancy. Ok, what’s your next move?

I know when I’m searching for a new book to read, I go by the cover, the blurb, and then maybe I read the first line, or the first page. I’ve done my research and I have to say, a lot of people feel the same. While that first line needs to have an underlying message to the reader saying, “READ ME” it’s not the most important part, in my opinion.

No matter what you write, the most important thing is that you put out the best possible work you can.

 

Don’t Stop Learning

My debut novel, Piggybacker, started out as a short story for a contest I didn’t win and became a huge part of my life for nearly a decade. I changed it from a short story to a full-blown novel because I always thought there was more to the story, so in a way, I’m happy I didn’t win that contest. If I’d won, that probably would have been the end of it. Piggybacker needed to be told in its own way, in its own time.

I wrote the novel in three months, night after night, my face was glued to the laptop’s screen, typing away. I barely paid attention to the words I typed—what I needed was to get the story out. I didn’t even think about the consequences.

My problem was there were so many issues in the end I didn’t even know how to fix it. Would I do it that way again? Absolutely! Because now I know so much more. I’ve learned more writing skills, mastered different aspects that have held me back in the past.

This time I’d probably attempt an outline, even a rough one, before writing, so I had some path to follow and a wee bit less editing.

 

What Advice to Take

Mine! Just kidding.

This is the hard part in being a novice, is figuring out who’s right and what’s best for your story. They may all have valid opinions. So, what do you do when one person says, “Change the first line” and another says, “I love that first line”? The only answer: whatever you want. The best thing anyone’s ever said to me was that the “Goddess of my own story,” and that stuck with me. What that means is, you have to be happy with the final product. You’re the creator. You have the last word. Isn’t that magnificent?

 

Never Give Up, Never Surrender to Rewrites

There’s an idea sitting in the back of your mind, buried deep within the depths of your subconscious mind. You just have to get out of your own head long enough for it to wiggle loose and get through. It’s like when you adopt a new cat. Even if the pet adored you at the adoption place, when you bring the pet home they will run and hide. It’s new, everything looks and smells different. It’s a huge change for them. If you leave them alone, they will come out on their own. If you don’t, they’ll burrow into the corner as far back as they can and never come out.

I spent over four years revising the beginning of Piggybacker, I couldn’t even tell you where it had begun. At least a dozen times I skimmed those lines and doubted myself. The first two chapters felt like they were both decent beginnings, but not the best they could be. I tried everything: switching them around, braiding them together, changing from past to present tense. They were all wrong. I nearly gave up on the entire thing. Several times. But when I get an idea in my head I’m as stubborn as a brick wall.

Once I got out of my own way, my story found me. Literally! I was making dinner one night, not even thinking about my novel. And I’d been pondering the beginning for a few years at this point. As I was stirring my soup an idea practically jumped out at me. I couldn’t believe it. The idea was so perfect, I just had to get to work on it right away.

Everything fell into place after that. Everything. I mean, it meant yet another revision, but it was exactly what my book needed and I’m so proud of it. In hindsight, not giving up is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Piggybacker comes out January 28, 2019. If you get to read it, I hope you enjoy and happy writing, my lovelies.  

A special thank you to Jacob, for hosting guests on his lovely site. You’re awesome!

Mikki Noble Piggybacker 1.jpg

Guest Blog Week Round 1

THIS WEEK AT THE WRITER’S ALLEY, WE HAVE GUEST BLOG WEEK!

The First Guest Blogger this week is Charles F. Millhouse of The Stormgate Press.

image2 (1).jpeg

Charles F. Millhouse

 

I’ve told stories all my life: Who is Charles F. Millhouse

 

Story telling is in my blood, I imagine that most writers feel the same way. I first indie published in 1999 when it was considered little more than vanity publishing. Let’s face it, I didn’t know a lot about writing, and again I think a lot of new writers have the same experience, or inexperience in that regard.

But I was committed, or should have been committed to being an author. I guess where I’m going with this is, no matter how hard it becomes, how stressed you get, don’t give up. A writer’s life is full of stress and misgivings and even though your loved ones say they understand what you’re going through, they really don’t. That’s why we seek out likeminded people, writers who understand our plight and can give us much needed encouragement. I hope in some way, writers who read this get something from it, and avid readers understand the mindset of an author.

 

Don’t be discouraged my friends. When I first published, there was no Facebook, or twitter. Social media was nonexistent and so was many other outlets to promote your work. This is of course not to diminish the struggles writers have today, I just want you to know that with persistence everything is possible. Write what you love, not because you think it will sale, or what is called “write to market”. If you’re writing to make money and don’t know the subject matter in which you’re writing, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown.

 

For me, my chosen genre is science fiction. I’ve written eighteen books focusing on it in some aspect. From hard hitting sci fi with “Origin Expedition” to more action adventure storytelling in my “Captain Hawklin Adventure Series”. Some of the books I’ve written have been hits, some misses (I don’t want to even talk about my first novel, which is no longer in print… thank goodness).

 

Success is ones own perspective. Set you goals, how far do you want to go, how far before you are happy with what you’ve written? For me, I’m content in my career, yet I’m still focused on honing my skills and producing the best possible story I can. There is so may stories to write and so little time. Pick the ones begging to be told, and tell them.

 

This post was supposed to be about me, and here I’ve turned it toward you, my fellow writer. I wish you to succeed… find “your voice” and be the best that you can be. I push myself with every project to try something different, to be bold and to set my writing bar high. This is something we should all strive toward. To give our readers an experience they won’t forget.

 

Readers: If there is one thing you can, besides buying and reading a book, it’s give a review. Writers, especially indie writers thrive on positive reviews that can help in their story telling. So leave a review on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, the authors website, and where you bought the book. It’s a simple thing and it means a lot to us.

 

As I leave you I want you to remember: Write a lot, read a lot, but don’t forget to live. A writer’s best work comes from experiences.

 

Charles F Millhouse is the author of eighteen science fiction, adventure novels including The New Kingdom Trilogy, Origin Expedition and Captain Hawklin.

 

You can find Charles’ work on his website: www.stormgatepress.com  on Facebook www.facebook.com/theCFM Twitter www.twitter.com/writermillhouse and Instagram www.instagram.com/writermillhouse

His body of work can be found on amazon, at, www.amazon.com/author/charlesmillhouse

image1.jpeg
 
image3.jpeg

 

 

 

Guest Blog #1: Allen St. Clair

Hello Everyone! Well, I have added a new section to my website, Guest Blogs! I have met some really great people who have allowed me to write a blog posting or mentioned me on their platform. I wanted to do the same thing. So, allow me to present Allen St. Clair! He runs the great blog Midnight Goose https://www.midnightgoose.com

 
Author Photo.jpg

An author, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the writer of a literary work (such as a book)” or “one that originates or creates something.”  A writer, as also defined by Merriam-Webster is “one that writes: such as an author.”

You know one thing that gets under my skin within the writing community?  Labels and definitions of what it is each of us does.  Not the labels we create for ourselves but the ones we impose on each other.  We like to say things like “I am a published author and he/she is a wriiiiiter.”

What does that even mean?

He/She is a published author.

He/She is an independently published author.

Stop it.

Being a writer, an author, traditionally published, independently published, blogger, vlogger, whatever it is you are, makes you a Creative.  I adore Creatives.

Do you know what I call myself?  A storyteller.  I like to tell stories when I write.  I like the way that humans connect viscerally with the written word.  I don’t put as much importance in things like if traditional rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax are followed.  If something is good—if it tells a good story, I can get over almost anything else.  If I put a book down after reading it and look off into the distance to something only I can see—if I felt transported—that was a good piece of writing.  It doesn’t matter who wrote it or how it got into my hands.  It meant something profound to me.

The person who wrote whatever it is that I read did something that mattered—they entertained, connected, informed, educated, moved me, made me examine my own beliefs and ideas…they did something that transcends all the other arbitrary rules and labels that others in the industry try to push down our throats.

Jonathan Larson, the writer of the rock musical Rent put the lyric: “The opposite of war isn’t peace—it’s creation” into his song La Vie Boheme A&B.  Creation is a fundamental rule of creating peace.  Of connecting one human being to another.  To sharing the human experience.  To proving that we’re not all that different.  That we’re all in this together.

Creatives, at their core, crave connection, sharing, finding similarities to others…to bringing about peace.  We creatives—writers and authors and storytellers—are on the same side.  We all have a story to tell and we should all tell them in our own way, as genuinely as possible, otherwise, the stories are all the same.  We won’t find all of the different connections and similarities and ways of creating peace.

Writers and authors and creatives and storytellers do not have to be at war with each other.  We do not have to be egomaniacs.  It’s trite, but true: a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. 

Get out there and tell your story.  Share it with anyone who wants to connect with it.  And when someone else shares their story, help them spread it to the wind. 

Create peace, my fellow Creatives.

 

***Below is Allen’s Novel found on Amazon***

Coffee News Ad Alternative.png