Rain

I don’t normally write flowery, dramatic monologues, but about a month a got I got inspired (from the language of Fahrenheit 451 and Shakespeare) and this was the result.

The Rain

The rain rages in mindless anger, dashing against choking walls, streaming down bricks, racing along pavement. Hard, cold drops stabbing though papered shelter, soaking clothing, battering skin, matting hair, coating all in icy reasonless fury. On and on and on, it pours, smashing, slashing, crashing…

The rumbles fade. Time slows. Leaden skies, weeping frigid tears. The wind howls about sharp corners, catching a soggy banner of smeared ink, tossing it against the alley walls, discarding it again. Softly now the drops fall, streaming quietly in bitter sorrow.

So much the desolate grayness sees. So much to weep for. The starved. The sick. The withered faces and infant cries. Shadowy figures, huddled against the wintery tears. Young lips, so cold. Ancient eyes, so blank. The men, with death in their eyes and life in their hands. Hearts of despairing hope and sight already veiled with darkness.

But hark. A light. A wind. The drops twist and dance. A fleeting smile. A fragmented laugh. The flicker of hope. Molten drops of silver and gold. The pavement a polished floor. The grimed walls a bejeweled passage.

Faces uplifting. Eyes opening wide. Murmuring laughter, washing clean the earth. Caressing shivering skin. Soothing trembling limbs.

Drop by drop, the rain quickens. The light fades. Shadows grow. Darker, thicker, the anger returns. The rumbling rage, keeping time with the tramp of boots. Stark lighting bolts glint off polished steel. Metal glitters, slicing the rain’s protective embrace.

Still the mist falls, thicker and faster, veiling the eyes of those who wait. Those who hide. A thunderous crash to cover the crack of weapons. A shattering roar. Lashing wind, slamming rain against the stained steel and streaming coats. Retreating coats. Fading steps.

The gloom lifts. Light gleams again. Wind moans through the street. A silenced voice. An exhaled breath. A stilled crawl. Crimson seeps across the ink-stained banner. Scarlet mingles with gold and silver, carried away in endless rivulets dropping from the weeping sky.

Beyond the Parchment: Part 6

It’s this time of the month again. 🙂 Welcome to my serial story, Beyond the Parchment

So far we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world.

Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here. You could just read the short blurbs about them, of course, but you’ll probably miss some important details. The blurbs are there for those of you who have read the story and are trying to keep track of all the names, more than anything else. You’re welcome. *bows*

Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second in which a writer, May Ann, wakes up to find a portal she’d designed in her book has become operational and two brothers, Jerinthreo and Daraton have come through and engaged in a bitter fight.

Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right? May Ann tries to keep the brothers from killing each other. Grabs Jerin and pulls him into a secret passage, only to discover she has Daraton instead (they are identical twins). Break out of the passage into May Ann’s kitchen only to discover Varizan, a villain May Ann created, waiting for them.

Part 3: My kitchen will never be the same Another fight between Daraton and Varizan breaks out in May Ann’s kitchen and May Ann saves Daraton’s life by shoving them both through the portal (which so happens to be the fridge).

Part 4: I am never doing that again May Ann and Daraton arrive in Braceaon, Daraton is wounded and Varizan’s soldiers have taken over Daraton’s former home. May Ann helps Daraton away and they find Ethred, a lady both Jerin and Daraton seem to respect, and her daughter, Adella, who happens to be Lord Daraton’s wife.

Part 5: Well, that complicates things: May Ann confers with Ethred and Adella and discovers they are both wordsmiths, chosen from their generations to record what happens in other realms (with some creative license). With Daraton resting, May Ann finally tries to get some sleep. But her eyes have barely closed when she finds herself wide awake. And captive in her own world.

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Why can’t this just be a dream?

“Varizan?” I blink, staring into his sharp blue eyes. How… I was in Braceaon. Resting. Relaxing! Why am I having a dream like this!

“Rested?” Varizan raises an eyebrow, rocking back on his heels as he releases me. “You slept long enough.”

I open my mouth, then shut it soundlessly. Varizan was in my home, but I’d gone through the portal, hadn’t I? Yet I am… here? In my closet. My arms tied behind one of the bare supports of my closet. With Jerinthreo, of all people, even more trussed up than I and glaring at me from the side.

Varizan shakes his head. “What realmly good did you think it would do to get Daraton out of my way when I didn’t care a wit about him in the first place? Well,” he corrects himself, “with his brother in my hands, I’m sure I can pull some good out of the situation. Assuming the young lord survives.”

Jerin’s breath hisses between his teeth. “Just you wait, Varizan. Just you wait.”

“I have been waiting, several hours,” Varizan says. “Nothing’s happened yet.” His gaze flicks back to me and hardens. “You, however, my dear…”

I am still staring at him, my mind spinning. Characters have come to life and I’ve visited their world. Why should being back here, interrogated by my own villain, be so startling? Interrogated… My stomach churns. That is one part of his character I have developed. For once, I don’t like knowing what to expect.

Varizan flips a dagger absently between his fingers, still rocking on his heels, then finally sheaths it. “Are you ready?”

I glare at Varizan. “It might help if you gave me a clue about what you wanted.”

“The wordsmith doesn’t know?” Varizan raises his gaze to the ceiling, then snaps his eyes back to my face. “I daresay you’d help if you did?”

“It’s doubtful.”

His hand smashes against the side of my face. I gasp, my head snapping to the side.

“That was a warning.” He lifts one finger as I blink. His face blurs in and out of focus. “I’ll be back. With details.” He rises. “In the meantime, think over what you do know about me and consider how long you can defy me.”

He strides from the narrow closet. I stare after him, his last words echoing my mind. How long… Time. Time. I close my eyes, my shoulders slumping. What my family would have done if Jerin and the others came through when they were all here is beyond me. As it is, they’ll be back tomorrow night. Back from the visit to our grandparents. A visit I skipped because I was supposed to be writing. If they return while Varizan was here…

That is an interrogation weapon he knows how to use too well.

I muffle a groan.

“You’re going to be dealing with more than a mere slap if you intend to defy Varizan.” Jerin growls.

I twist my head, glaring at the twin as best I could. “You think that is bothering me?”

“It should.”

I bite my lip before snapping a retort. “And you? I thought you were with Varizan?”

Jerin snorts. “Just because he gave me information doesn’t mean I trust the son of a snake. But he was right. And Daraton–”

“Daraton did not kill your father.”

“Or so he claimed in those brief moments before you threw him back in the portal and then collapsed in that strange pantry?”

Strange pant– Oh, the fridge.

“Ethred told me,” I say.

Silence.

“That name is not one to be bandied about just because you have a token from her.” Jerin’s voice is low. Deadly.

I close my eyes, my fingers twisting at the knots about my wrist. They don’t give. “And yet she did tell me. I went through, Jerin–”

“Jerinthreo.”

I ignore him. “I went through and got your brother to Ethred and Adella–”

I cut myself short. Was Jerin for the marriage, or against it? Ethred’s hasty explanations still wound confused webs between my eyes.

“He’s safe then?”

“Yes, well…” I hesitate. “Besides slowly slipping away from poison on Varizan’s dagger and hiding from soldiers who seem to have taken over the manor house.”

“Flaming Salendrians!” Jerin spat the exclamation. He jerks against his ropes, then lets his head fall against the wall with a sigh. “When I get my hands on Varizan–”

I blink, shaking my head. “Varizan now? I thought you were mortal enemies with your brother. Not that I’m complaining.”

“I’m not a fool,” Jerin says. “My brother has much to answer for, but it is not Varizan’s place to interfere or implement execution for a crime he seems very well able to have committed himself!”

Well then. That was one uneasy truce brokered.

“So…” I venture. “Varizan?”

“What about him?”

“Do you happen to know his backstory?”

“Backstory!” Jerin jerks upright. “Is that all we are to you? Characters in some book?”

“Not anymore,” I protest. “And it’s not just me. You should see what Ethred–”

“Ethred has issues when it comes to her wordsmithing.” Jerin rolls his eyes. “Everyone is orphaned, had a troubled childhood, or was beaten at a young age. I had hoped you weren’t all like that.”

I press my lips tight.

Jerin snorts.

“Varizan then?” I ask again.

“Ambassador from Salendria. Still not sure why he came, but Father–” His voice wavers, but he takes a deep breath. “Father accepted him. Didn’t talk much to him though, that I could see.”

“Family?” I ask.

“None that I know of.”

“And that is probably where the backstory comes in,” I mutter under my breath. I search back through my various shreds of history. A wife and two kids, at least Varizan had them at one point. What happened? A raider attack? Fire? I shook my head. Something involving the former lord Balstin, probably. Their ages matched. There had been a war twenty years ago when Balstin was a captain and Varizan a mere villager.

“What are you smirking about?” Jerin demands.

I clear my expression, blinking as I snap my gaze back to my fellow prisoner. “Just thinking. I had a… idea.”

“If it is about Varizan, you’d better keep it to yourself. I know what you types are like.”

“My type!”

“Ethred, remember? What did she do to your past? Kill your family and have a sibling die in your arms?”

I choke out a small cry of indignation.

“Whatever family Varizan had is dead,” Jerin says. “That much I know. If you try to share the elaborate ways they might have died, then it will go the worse for you.”

“That I don’t doubt.” I bite my lip, then draw a soft breath as footsteps approach.

The door swings open and I turn my head away, blinking in the bright light.

“General wants to see you.” A dusky figure blocks the sun, striding around me. Cold steel presses against my wrist. The ropes jerk tight, then loosen abruptly.

I swing my arms around, massaging my wrists. “What does he–?”

“I’m sure he’ll tell you.” The man yanks me up by the arm, shoving me before him. “Come along.”

I stumble a step as he pushes me out into my room. My poor room. What had these men done!? I bit my lip as I stare at the maps torn from the walls, the trampled flag, the scribbled parchments, my leather journal of customs and superstations lying open, with some passages underlined and others scribbled off….

The corridors and rest of the house isn’t much better. I’ll not get any sleep at all if I want this clean before my family gets back.

Varizan is sitting in state at the dining room table, rolling magnetized balls around the palm of his hand. He pinches two apart as the man who fetched me loosens his grip and pulls out the chair at the other end of the table.

I watch him warily as I sit down, then let my gaze skim the paper and assortment of pens and pencils before me. I bite the inside of my cheek.

Varizan lets the magnet balls reconnect with a snap, then drops them to the table and looks at me. “I suppose you’ve a guess at what I want?”

“Perhaps.”

Varizan waves one hand in a circular motion. “Pray, elaborate.”

I trace the inside of my teeth with my tongue. Family is probably a sensitive point. Power? Revenge? Most likely, but we can go with power. “You want to take over this world and you want me to write up some story or such where that that happens.”

Varizan throws back his head, his laughter billowing upward. “This world? This world?” He shakes his head. “Why in all the realms would I want this world? I have great confidence in my own abilities, but taking over a whole realm which is already fragmented into dozens of warring factions? I must say, I am flattered.”

So much for the power angle.

“Braceaon then?”

“Closer, but not by much.” Varizan sobers. Folding his hands, he watches me steadily. “I want you to write.”

“Hence the paper and pens.”

“Someone died once.” Varizan continues. “Someone dear to me. You are going to write them back.”

My breath caught in the back of my throat. So it was family then.

“But…”

“But what?” Varizan rose, circling his chair and leaning on the back. “You can’t? Think carefully about what you say.”

“I…” Best have it out with. “That’s not what I do. I write, yes. But what has happened has happened. I can’t change events. I can’t bring people back from the dead.”

“No?” Varizan’s brows draw closer as he rounds the table. He presses both hands on the surface beside me. “A wordsmith can do what she pleases, how she pleases.”

“You must believe me, we can’t.”

“And I am supposed to take the word of one captive on that?” Varizan leans close.

I force myself not to recoil. “I’m not the only one! Even Ethred said–” I cut myself off. Idiot! I could write my own death scene at the moment.

A slow smile spreads over Varizan’s face. “Ah, so you did go through the portal? A portion of you, anyway. I suspected as much.” He rounds the back of my chair, his hands resting lightly on my shoulders. I jerk, but their grip hardens, holding me in place.

“No need for any writing yet, my dear. The past is, as you said, past. The future, however…” his hands slowly slide toward my neck. I suppress a shudder.

“Wordsmiths have more power on the future than Ethred likes to let on. Ask her about it, why don’t you? And,” he leans over my shoulder, “when you see Daraton, tell him the Black Shadows has finally come.”

Varizan’s hand close over my mouth and nose, cutting off all air. I twist, struggling to breathe, but his hold tightens. Blackness edges my sight. Choking, suffocating blackness. And then I know no more.

Beyond the Parchment: Part 5

I know. It is Wednesday and I said I was only posting twice a week. But I have something I’m planning on posting Friday, in relation to Shadows of the Hersweald so you get the next installment of Beyond the Parchment a few days early. 😉

In this serial story, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world.

Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here. You could just read the short blurbs about them, of course, but you’ll probably miss some important details. The blurbs are there for those of you who have read the story and are trying to keep track of all the names, more than anything else. You’re welcome. *bows*

Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second in which a writer, May Ann, wakes up to find a portal she’d designed in her book has become operational and two brothers, Jerinthreo and Daraton have come through and engaged in a bitter fight.

Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right? May Ann tries to keep the brothers from killing each other. Grabs Jerin and pulls him into a secret passage, only to discover she has Daraton instead (they are identical twins). Break out of the passage into May Ann’s kitchen only to discover Varizan, a villain May Ann created, waiting for them.

Part 3: My kitchen will never be the same Another fight between Daraton and Varizan breaks out in May Ann’s kitchen and May Ann saves Daraton’s life by shoving them both through the portal (which so happens to be the fridge).

Part 4: I am never doing that again May Ann and Daraton arrive in Braceaon, Daraton is wounded and Varizan’s soldiers have taken over Daraton’s former home. May Ann helps Daraton away and they find Ethred, a lady both Jerin and Daraton seem to respect, and her daughter, Adella, who happens to be Lord Daraton’s wife.

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Well, That Complicates Things

Adella, Lord Daraton’s wife. The words echo through my mind as I numbly stare at the two women, the one short with gray hair and steady eyes, the other twisting an arrow between her fingers. Since when had Lord Daraton decided to get married without inviting me to the wedding?

Ethred chuckles, shaking her head. “No worries. They all look at us like that when we tell them. It’s a precious small secret right now, thanks to that snake, Vaizen.” Her forehead furrows as she turns to the fire, breaking up the coals with short stabbing motions.

The scene blurs as I shake my head, the Adella is at my elbow. “You must be tired, too. Portal traveling and all.” She leads me to a chair and gently pushes me down. Her gaze skims my clothing. “You’re not from here, I take it.”

“Not from…” I blink, shaking my head. Even details behind secret marriages needed to wait in the face of the danger we were in. “No, not really.”

“Ah.” Ethred’s lips twisted into a wry smile as she pours steaming liquid into a mug and hands it to me. “That much we knew. I saw Daraton go through that portal myself, after all.” She settles down opposite me. “Now I realize you are upset and stressed and afraid, but we really need–”

“I’m fine.” The words are a bit sharper than I mean them. “Sorry…” I wrap my fingers around the warmth seeping from the mug. “But really, I am fine.”

“Wonderful.” Ethred smiles broadly as Adella leans against the wall behind her, twirling an arrow between her fingers. “So, where is Jerinthreo, how did you meet up with Varizan, what is he planning, how did Daraton get wounded, and how did he end up with you?”

I blink.

Adella stares at the rafters above, a small smile teasing her lips. “She’ll forget the questions before you’re finished with them, mother.”

Ethred frowns. “It’s not my fault you young ones have such short attention spans. But if it can’t be helped…” She looked at me again, her eyes stabbing through mine. “Well, out with it. As quick as you can. And as much as you can remember.”

I bite the inside of my lip, hesitating. The brothers both trust her. They are also at odds with each other, which means she must transcend the petty arguments flaring up about us. Well, that or she was some sort of double agent or else…

Stop it. I scold myself. She’s not a secret agent. At least… ok, so I don’t know everything going on here, but I feel sure of that, at least. Maybe she can help, and we need answers of our own.

Interlocking my fingers behind my head, I stare into the crackling flames and slowly sift through the past few hours, recounting all I could remember. Well, all except for the fact that I had written this world in the first palace. They’ll not believe that, and even if they do, I’ve a feeling they’ll not want to hear they are figments of my imagination. If they actually are, that is. I am growing less and less certain by the minute.

Ethred flips the wire covered stone in the palm of her hand, tracing the silver designs which swirled over the smooth surface. “And you’re the Wordsmith?”

I jerk, staring at her. Wordsmith… that is what Varizan called me too, though I’d not mentioned it.

“I… maybe?”

“Maybe?” Adella slips the arrow into her quiver. “How can one not know?”

Ethred shakes her head, peering over her shoulder at her daughter. “You’re lucky. I’ve told you that before. Most Wordsmiths don’t even know their kind exists, much less what they can do.”

Adella’s eyes slide back to me, but I am staring at Ethred. “Wordsmith? As in… a writer?”

“No, my dear.” Ethred holds the stone by a chain, letting it swing back and forth. “Not a writer. A Chronicler.”

“I don’t…”

“Every generation has one,” Ethred interrupts me. “There are storytellers in many worlds, but there is only one Wordsmith in each land. They write of people in other lands, carrying the histories and the lessons learned across the borders of time and space. I was a Wordsmith, and Adella has taken the duties in hand now.” Ethred rose, crossing the room and opening a deep shelf. Rows upon rows of leather-bound notebooks stared from the shadows.

“You are from…” Ethred’s fingers trace down the spine. “Terra, is it not? Ah yes. The Wordsmith May Ann. She was the one who designed a portal…” Ethred motion outwards in the general direction of the manor house, while she flips through the yellowed pages. “Nothing about coming here, but it looks like you get married and then…”

“Stop!” I spring to my feet. My stomach twists. What on earth did this lady know about me? About my life. Another story. Another history… “I don’t want to know. I really don’t. Assuming all you tell me is true.”

“I didn’t say it would all happen, dearie.” Ethred places the book back on the shelf and turns back toward me. “Some Wordsmiths are more connected with what happens than others. There are some who get the accounts horribly mangled, I fear. Though it is hard to tell, seeing we can’t generally confirm any of them. Are you an orphan with one brother in the army and a younger sister who died in your arms four years ago?”

“Am I… why… you…” I sputter. “No! I have a wonderful family who happens to be on vacation until tomorrow night.” I bite my lip. Tomorrow night I’ve until then to get Vaizen out of my house. And possibly buy a new fridge.

Ethred sighs and shrugs. “Ah well. A pity. Not for you, of course, but it was touching. And your own death scene…”

I glare at Ethred. “Wait until I get back and write up a heartrending scene for your death. It would be just the thing to get Jerin and Daraton back on the same side, don’t you think?”

“Don’t you dare.” Steel presses just below my eye and I raise my eyebrows as I meet Adella’s flashing stare. “I am the Wordsmith here, and I can make you suffer much worse than death. Believe me.”

“One would think you both could actually make a difference.” Ethred rolls her eyes. “A Wordsmith writes what happens in the various worlds. The stories which come to them are history, but they don’t always come fully formed. And where guesswork is involved, drama and truth do not always go hand in hand. You both can kill each other or me as much as you please in your writings, it’s not going to make it so. And you, Adella, should know that already.”

Adella sighs, scowling as she lowers the arrow. “I know, but still…”

I hold up both hands. “It’s fine. I’d probably do the same if you threatened…” I broke off, watching her warily. “Never mind. I’m not telling you who you should threaten.”

Adella snorts, but her lips curve up slightly.

“And,” I turn back to Ethred, “since I’ve answered your questions, it’s only fair you return the favor.”

“As if life cares anything for fairness.” Ethred shakes her head, her eyes twinkling. “Well, ask away, and I’ll answer as best I can.”

I bite my lip, glancing around the small room. Beyond the shuttered windows, shadows of the night press inwards. Braceaon. My land. Which is no longer my land because I had nothing to do with the creation in the first place. I close my eyes, taking a deep breath. There will be time, later on, to deal with such… things.

“What has happened here?” I finally find the words. “Daraton, Jerin, Lord Balstin… I knew he would die, I just didn’t realize he died so early.”

Adella glances at Ethred, and Ethred sighs, taking a seat. “Neither did I. Or any of us.” She passes one hand over her face. “It was Vaizen, mainly. Riling Lord Balstin with news of Daraton’s marriage. Then he got cozy with Jerinthreo over the portal to gain access to that. We still aren’t sure who assassinated the Lord, but Vaizen made sure Daraton thought Jerinthreo had a hand in it due to his contestation for more lands, whereas Jerinthreo now thinks it has something to do with Adella and Daraton’s marriage.” Ethred glares at Daraton who is still sleeping peacefully. “Fools, both of them, though I must say Vaizen was convincing enough.”

“And Vaizen?” I ask. “What does he want?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Adella looks sharply at me. “He wants the Wordsmith. He wants you.”

I groan. Great. This is just great.

“It’s not all that bad,” Ethred assures me. “There are plenty of others he wants too, though you are at the top of his list. Rest now, and by morning we might have a few more answers, although…” she glances at Daraton, “We may have more pressing matters on our hands by then.”

Right. Poison. And such.

I sigh, but let them lead me to a bed tucked in the wall. I’m never going to sleep, of course. Not now. Not after what has happened.

But I’m so tired.

I blink rapidly, trying to keep my eyes open. Or did that put one to sleep? What did it matter? I was exhausted and somewhere in my muddled thoughts I’ve the suspicion Ethred slipped some sort of calming agent in my tea. But I do I need sleep.

My eyes slip closed and darkness sweeps about me…

Darkness, but light filters through the air. My shoulders ache and something rough is holding my wrists behind my back. Rope? A heavy breath echoes in my ear and I jump, twisting to the side. A vaguely familiar outline leans against the wall as my eyes adjust to the gloom. His cloak is torn, and blood stains his tunic and face.

Jerinthreo?

My brow furrows as I stare at him. Somewhere, footsteps echo. Why does my head throb so? And is that… are those my shoes? I blink, my gaze skimming the familiar confines of my walk-in closet. What on…?

The door is flung open, and light streams inwards.

I squint against the sudden brightness, then a shadow falls between me and the light.

“Well, well, well.” Varizan’s hand catches my chin as he crouches down, forcing me to meet his gaze. “Look who finally woke up?”

 

And…there you have it. Any guesses on what is happening or what will happen next?

Autumn Reading: Mini-Reviews

Despite lack of time, I did get a good amount of reading done this summer.

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Inkdeath

Overview: Yes, it has a skull on the front. But there is a reason the book is called Inkdeath (and it doesn’t have to do with skeletons or anything gruesome of that kind). What happens when one gets read into a book. And when the author has based a heroic rebel off of you (or your father, as the case may be).

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: Inkdeath is the last book in the Inkheart trilogy and it is also my favorite. These books are charming and well written with great characters. Mo/the Bluejay is so cool, and I absolutely love Dustfinger. And the writing humor in here, with the author trapped in his own book…so good.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. I’ve enjoyed these books very much. I love writers meeting characters and writing humor. Besides, I just loved the book.

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The Light of Eidon

Overview: All Abramm wanted was peace. But when he is caught up in political schemes and betrayed to be sold as a slave, fighting is the only way to survive.

Technical aspects: Writing: 3.5 of 5 – Characters: 4 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4.5 of 5

My thoughts: I really liked the story itself. The characters, for the most part, I enjoyed. The theme was well done and the pacing was pretty good. The writing itself was not especially impressive. It wasn’t awful, just lots of telling instead of showing or mingling descriptions with the scenery. This is the first book in a four book series and I like it enough that I might get the next book sometime.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. If you like allegorical fantasy, you will probably like this story. It is exciting. I mean, how can you go wrong with gladiators and rebellion? If the writing style doesn’t bother you, then I would definitely recommend it.

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Space Drifters: The Iron Gauntlet

Overview: Captain Glint Starcrost is one of the few humans chosen to  compete in the Iron Gauntlet, pitted against four of the most fearsome, fang-filled, alien fighters in the universe. With the help of his crew, he must survive. But he’ll never be the same.

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 5 of 5

My thoughts: The second Space Drifter book doesn’t disappoint. Hilarious, exciting, dangerous, with fresh new characters and unexpected twists, it builds up for the next book while telling a complete story. I can hardly wait for the next book.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. This is my favorite Christian sci-fi series and, really, my favorite sci-fi series anywhere. Not that I read much sci-fi, but I love this series. And the characters. As one person put it, it reminds me of a clean Christian Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder and Scarlet

Overview: A retelling of Cinderella where Cinder is a cyborg. Little Red Riding Hood with Lunar enemies. Each book in the Lunar Chronicles has a new main character, but they build on each other, containing past characters and running in a progressive storyline.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: I loved Cinder. All the nods to the original fairytale, and yet there were a number of new twists as well. Scarlet I enjoyed, though I liked Cinder’s character better. (Plus, Cinder was as passionately romantic). Still, I’m looking forward to reading Cress, the third book.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. This isn’t a Christian series, but it is pretty clean. No swearing. Not too much romance. Well, there is more in Scarlet than in Cinder, which I could have done without, but it wasn’t too bad.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What your favorite book which you’ve read this autumn?

Beyond the Parchment: Part 4

So, in my serial story, Beyond the Parchment, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And now she has just leaped through the portal, dragging one of her wounded characters with her, to escape her villain.

But, first, I spent some time starting to get a Beyond the Parchment pinterest board. Here are a few pictures I found. 🙂 No collages yet, but they’re coming.

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May Ann

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Daraton or Jerinthreo

They are identical twins, after all. *scowls* I should have considered pictures before I came up with that idea…

Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here:

Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second

Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right?

Part 3: My kitchen will never be the same

beyond-the-parchment1

I’m Never Doing That Again

Shards of blue light stab through my brain, surging about me, tearing at my hair and clothing like a wild animal. The roar of thunder fills the air, echoing in my ears, strobing a blur of glinting silver and darker shadows behind my eyes.

Nothing exists. Nothing but noise and light and something hard I have clutched in one hand. Then even the thunder is gone. There is nothing. Shadows close on all sides of me. Silence echoes in my ears. Something itches beneath my cheek. My breath is hot against my lips.

Somewhere, as though from a distance, I hear a muffled groan. My stomach churns and every muscle in my body aches. I roll over on my back with a moan, staring upwards at the blur of red and orange flickering in and out of focus.

A torch?

Braceaon! Daraton!

I draw a quick breath, shoving myself into a sitting position. My head spins, the shadowy scene swimming before my eyes. I gasp as I plant both hands on the floor to keep myself from falling. How had the others come through the portal so effortlessly? Because I am not about to go through it again.

Not even to get back home.

Besides that, of course… I blink away the gloom, but there is no sign of a portal. Just a ring of charred earth and glowing embers on the straw of what must be the stall of a stable. Something shifted in the shadows beyond the glowing ring and I stagger to my feet, then stumble forward.

“Daraton!” I drop to my knees beside him. His fingers curl around my wrist.

“What… have  you… done?”

“Saved your life, for starters. Again.” I scowl, my gaze skimming his pale drawn face and clenched jaw. His sword still hangs from his hand, but that is the least of my worries, whatever the suppressed rage surging behind his eyes.

I stretch my fingers toward the slim dagger still embedded in Daraton’s side, then jerk back before I actually touch it. Isn’t there something about leaving such things inside a stab wound until they can be properly cared for so the patient doesn’t bleed to death in the meanwhile.

“You’re… hurt.”

“Which is the only reason I’m still lying here.” Daraton pushes himself up on one elbow, then winces. I press him back, the dark stain about the dagger growing.

I swallow hard, my breath hissing between my teeth.

Come on, think! You’ve hurt characters worse than this before and they survive. Well, sometimes.

Yes, and they all had expert healers or at least friends who knew what they were doing to dress their wounds.

So?

I don’t know what to do! I’ve only ever said ‘his wound was bandaged’ in my own writing.

Lazy research. Serves you right.

“Shut up!” I hiss the words out loud, then blink as Daraton stares at me. “Not you I just… I need more light.” I stumble to my feet and yank the torch from its socket, slipping the stone both brothers seem to view as so important into my pocket as I step back across the sifting ashes. There must be a way to turn the portal back on. Or something… I don’t have time to worry about it right now as I crouch down at Daraton’s side.

His eyes narrow as he watched my face. “You have no clue what you are doing, do you?”

“I…”

He rolls his eyes, then grits his teeth as he props himself on his elbow and drags himself backward so he is half sitting against the stall wall.

“Be careful!” I shove the torch into a rack on the wall and turn back towards Daraton as he yanks the dagger from his side. So much for that.

His fingers fumble with a pouch at his side and I shove his hand aside, unbuckling it and pulling out a strip of white cloth. “You carry bandages with you?”

“You don’t?”

“I will now,” I mutter under my breath, pressing a portion of the cloth against the wound in his side. “So…”

Daraton grits his teeth. “Over the tunic. We’ll get it better later but… we have to get out of here…” He leans his head back against the stable wall, his eyes closed, his teeth clenched. Swiftly I wrap the bandage around his midsection, adding extra wrapping he gives me against his side, then fastening it off tightly.

The wound is low enough, but not too low, and it doesn’t seem extremely deep either… I rock back on my heels as I finish. “The bleeding is slowed down. You should survive.”

“Survive the cut or the poison?”

“Poison?” I bite my lip before I can utter a very unladylike comment. That is so not fair. I never even decided that Varizan dabbles in poisons. Much less that he coats each weapon with them. Quite a personal hazard, I’d have thought, though not a bad idea if…

A distant crunch of hurried steps filters through the night and my head snaps toward the stable doors.

Daraton muffles a groan as he grasps the top of the stall, heaving himself to his feet. “We have… to get out of here.”

“Isn’t this your home?” I demand, throwing one of his arms over my shoulders. His foot slipped and I staggered under the sudden weight. “Shouldn’t we be getting you help?”

“Not here.” Daraton shakes his head. He motions towards the opposite side of the stable, but I am already heading towards the semi-secret entrance. That, at least, is something I know about. “Varizan…”

Right, Varizan.

My mind sifts through one possibility after another as I help Daraton across the stable. Outside, the calls are getting louder.

How had Varizan even known of the portal? Though it wasn’t any surprise that he did, I suppose. He has spies everywhere. I should have known better than to give him so much persuasive charm. Had he killed the old lord then, and set the brothers on each other? But why? I scowl, my breath hissing between my teeth.

Varizan. The one character I’ve next to no backstory on. It is a tragic one, I am fairly sure. Other than that… nothing. Though it probably has something to do with Lord Balstin, seeing he is the only one dead at the moment. At least I hope so… My mind flits back to Jerinthreo. But no. With Daraton gone, Varizan will surely keep Jerin alive. I hope.

We reach the stable wall and Daraton leans against the wall, his hand feeling for the latch. The double doors at the other end other end of the stable are thrown open.

“…can’t be.” The voice is deep, with a drawling accent I almost recognize.

Daraton mutters a low oath.

“Didn’t Varizan say…?”

“I don’t blazes care what he said. Everyone vanishing isn’t natural, even for him. He’ll have got himself in deeper than he meant to this time…”

Daraton eases the door open. His hand pushes me through. My foot catches on a protruding brick. I stumble and, by the time I’ve regained my balance, Daraton is outside as well, silently shutting the door.

A squad of soldiers, their caps lined in the black and silver of Salendria tramp by. Daraton presses me back into the shadows, though I’m already huddled tight against the wall. They vanish without so much a glance in our direction and I move under Daraton’s arm so he can lean on me.

“Where to?”

“The village…” His breath is coming shorter now. Already. The wound or the poison? “We can get help there. It’s…”

“I know where the village.” I turn my steps toward the wood sweeping up against the pastures. A pity it isn’t day. Lord Balstin’s gardens were supposed to be the most enchanting of the land. Though I don’t suppose we’d be able to hide in shadows if it were light out. As it is, the moon is enough to give us away if anyone has a sharp enough eye.

But who is in the village? I hadn’t… oh, right. I almost smirked. Daraton has a secret love interest there. This Ethred I keep hearing about, perhaps?

The shadows of the forest close about us, but we strike a path soon. Daraton’s steps are growing slower, but he presses on, his breath rasping in my ear. The village. How far is the village again?

“Who goes… Daraton?” A lithe figure cuts the challenge short, springing onto the path before us. A quiver hangs across her back and she slips the bow across her shoulder as her hands cup Daraton’s face and she stares up into his eyes.

He manages a tight smile, but she places a finger on his lips before he can speak. “Later. I’ll get you to mother…” Her eyes skim me. “What happened?”

“Varizan.”

Her eyes darkened. “Poison?”

“We think so.”

She moved to Daraton’s other side and between the two of us it is only several minutes later when we break into a clearing just outside the village. Warm light spilled from a window, and in the open door a short, wiry figure stands, waiting. Her white hair hangs to her waist, bound carefully back, and a cloak is wrapped around her shoulders.

“Must you always get yourself into trouble, my dear?” She shakes her head as she scans our small party, focusing on Daraton, then steps aside. “The bed, quickly.”

We deposit Daraton on a wide bed. Staggering back a step, I rub my shoulder as the two woman bend over Daraton, stripping the cloth from his wound, cleaning it, and rebandaging it. The younger girl sits at his head, her fingers brushing away his hair, as her mother finishes the examination. The light gleams gold on her hair and her lips pucker into a charming frown. It’s no wonder both the brothers like her.

Some of the color has returned to Daraton’s face, but he is still pale, his eyes closed, his jaw tensed. But finally his breathing relaxes.

“He’ll sleep for a good bit.” The older lady announces, rising to her feet. “Now,” she turns on me. “How about you tell us exactly what happened?”

“Without even proper introductions, mother?” the younger girl rises, forcing a smile as she rounds the bed.

I return the expression. “My name is May Ann.” My fingers touch the stone in my pocket. “I presume you are Ethred?”

The older lady snorts out a laugh, her frown easing into a smile. “No, my dear, I’m Ethred. That is my daughter, Adella. Lord Daraton’s wife.

 

Well, what say you? I have the basic story outlined now, but what do you think/want to happen next?

Beyond the Parchment: Part 3

So, in my serial story, Beyond the Parchment, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And now, a villain has just step through the fridge which happens to be the portal into May Ann’s house. Read the first parts here:

Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second

Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right?

beyond-the-parchment1

My kitchen will never be the same

“Good evening Lord Daraton. My lady.” Varizan inclines his head with a smile, his smooth rolling voice filling the room. Isn’t he even the slightest bit dazed that he’s standing in the middle of broken glass and scattered food?

“Blazes! Has the whole of Braceaon decided to leave their native land?” Daraton demands. His hand tightens about his blade as he advances a step. “And what of Ethred? If you have harmed her…”

There’s that name again. The girl who had the stone. My hand tightens around the piece in my hand.

Varizan raises his hands, palms upwards, with a long-suffering sigh. But his eyes gleam as they light on me and, behind him, soldiers are still stepping from the fridge. There are nearly half a dozen behind my villain now, though most are opening cupboards or testing their blades on the counters. “Must you always think the worst, my Lord Daraton –”

“Don’t.” Daraton grits his teeth as he takes a step forwards. “My father is the Lord of Balstin Hall.”

“Your father is dead.” The words are sharp as daggers, smooth as a polished lash. The undercurrent pleasure of masked by undeniable condolences. My lip curls upwards, then I jerk my expression into a sober mask. Whatever the perfection of Varizan’s voice, this is not the time to indulge it. Especially with Jerin’s crashing footsteps approaching from the rear.

Turning slightly, I lower my voice, angling the stone both Jerin and Daraton place such importance on, upwards so Daraton can see it. “We need to get out of here. Now.”

“Where to, my lady?” Varizan’s voice slips through my veins.

Botheration. How could I forget I’d given him excellent hearing? And a sure aim with a love of daggers like the one he is flipping between his fingers again. Oh, and let’s not forget the loyalty he can command with just a handful of words nor the dozen soldiers now ranged between us and the door. What the blazes had I been thinking?

“Lord Varizan.” Daraton’s voice is cold as ice. Behind us, Jerin’s steps turn into a flurry of clashing metal. It’s about time Daraton’s men caught up with Jerin. A whole extra minute for us to escape Varizan. How wonderful.

“Why are you here?” Daraton’s voice is low. Measured.

“I am a guest, remember?”

“Courtesies to ambassadors of Salendria do not extend to secret portals no one is supposed to know the existence of.” Daraton glares at the soldiers behind Varizan as I clap a hand to my mouth. Salendria! So, the someplacethatneedsaname is actually already named. Perhaps, if I can merely step into Braceaon, I can figure out the rest of my plot holes without any headache. Well, besides the very real danger of being killed or trapped. “I asked you once, I’ll not ask it again. What of Ethred?”

“I swear to you, I never saw her. Just the portal itself, pulsing and flaring…”

“And so you decide to step through with a dozen soldiers,” I comment dryly. Perhaps not the best idea. Both men’s eyes fasten on me and Daraton’s gaze hardens.

“What do you know of this matter?”

I catch myself before I can say ‘everything’, then bite my tongue before I say ‘nothing’. “Enough.” There, that sounds smooth enough. Except the word breaks into a sudden silence as the clash of blades behind us ceases.

A small smile flits across Varizan’s lips.

“You are right, my lord.” He raises his hand, flicking his wrist. Daraton swings his blade and I jump as a dagger embeds itself in the wall beside me. Daraton’s eyes widen as he inhales sharply between his teeth.

“I came for the wordsmith, of course.” Varizan’s eyes shift to me. “Jerinthreo and you can battle it out as you please but –”

Daraton charges with a shout.

The good news is that, whatever their earlier position, the dagger flying his way must have convinced Daraton that Varizan means no good.

The bad news?

Varizan still has eleven knives left. And he is even better at throwing than Jerin. What on earth possessed me to give him such a lethal skill? Daraton staggers with a gasp as a gleaming projectile smashes between his ribs, but he keeps on, closing the distance before Varizan can hurl another one. Varizan’s soldiers aren’t much help to their leader. Between the island counter and the fridge, there isn’t room for a soldier beside Varizan in any case. For the first time in my life, I am grateful for the narrow kitchen. Then again, Varizan doesn’t seem like he needs any help.

Something dark hurls over my head and I can’t suppress a yelp as I duck, spinning to the side as Jerin himself crashes through the door.

His gaze spins between the fight ensuing between his brother and Varizan, then slips down to me and darkens. I stagger to my feet, stumbling backward before his piercing gaze.

“So you were working with Daraton. And Ethred…did you steal the stone from her too?”

Ethred? Who was Ethred? And why are both brothers so protective of her? Maybe she can talk some sense into them. Provided the two brothers don’t kill each other, which of course assumes Varizan fails in his own quest.

“I stole nothing.” I finally find my voice. “But you both are acting like fools when the real fault lies elsewhere.”

It’s too late. Jerin’s eyes are hardened. He’s not listening anymore if he even registers what I’m saying. I glance wildly back, my gaze flying over where Daraton is now barely keeping Varizan at bay while the strobing blue lights from my poor fridge casts an eerie glow over the chaos that once was my kitchen.

I grit my teeth. I’m going to so regret this, I know. I also know I regret not doing it even more…besides the fact that I’ll be dead and the world I’ve created will probably implode with the death of several of its changing characters.

I leap forward, my hand closing about Daraton’s arm even as he stumbles. Varizan’s blade slashes downwards, but I jerk Daraton out of the way, toward the fridge. The light surrounds me…surrounds both of us, drawing us closer, faster, swifter. For a split second I see Varazan, his eyes lighting with a blue smile.

Then I jump upwards – or forwards; direction itself is spinning about me now.

And all is brilliant light.

Beyond the Parchment: Part 2

In the first installment of Beyond the Parchment, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. A pair of brothers, actually, who are currently engaged in mortal combat.

beyond-the-parchment

All Brothers Fight Sometimes, Right?

I do what any girl would do when two men plunge into a duel to the death in her bedchamber. I step behind a pair of bookshelves and get dressed. Thirty seconds is all it takes to throw on a skirt and shirt. Another half a minute to pull on my socks and shoes. For all their faults, Daraton and Jerin are two of the most expert swordsmen I’ve written. My only characters who can fight until exhaustion with neither one drawing blood…to their everlasting irritation and my own amusement.

Except it’s not amusing now. My ears ring with tinkling glass, crashes, and thuds. Long swords and small rooms don’t mix well. And with little room comes daggers. And with daggers…

With daggers, one brother is very much superior to the other and, in their current rage, neither one will pull back on a fatal blow if an opening reveals itself.

They’re too good for that. Relax.

You’re telling me to relax? Do you know what will happen if one of the brothers dies?

Universal apocalypse? Which is why you’re taking the time to get dressed?

Something like that. And do you expect me to leave here in a nightgown? Don’t give me that look. I’m not like Jerin. I finish tying my shoe as I fire off the last thought to my own inner voice, then throw my body against the bookshelf as something heavy thuds against it. A wave of books jolt from their perch above my head, tumbling down around my shoulders. I wince, peering around the wood, then jerking back as a blade flashes near my head.

“Botheration.” I mutter the exclamation as a figure rolls to avoid a descending blade, then twists back to his feet. Not good. Not good at all. I’ve got to get Jerin out of here before he kills his brother. As it is, I can hardly tell which twin is which. The lights won’t help, even if I could reach them without losing an arm. I’m certain each bulb is shattered by now. But Jerin is the one with the cloak, isn’t he and Daraton…his cloak is darker? Since when do they wear anything remotely similar?

That feast last night, remember? You forced Jerin to dress down and Daraton to dress up.

Right. That. In which case the story isn’t very advanced at all. That is it. I have to get Jerin out of here.

I yank a photo off the wall and jerk down on a sort chain. A groan echoes through the room as a portion of wall slides away and, for the fraction of a second, the fighting pauses long enough for me to hear more boots downstairs. Jerin’s back is to the bookshelf and I grab his arm, ignoring his glare as I hold up the silver petalled stone I still hold. “Come with me now!”

“Where did you…” his voice trails as his sword flashes, deflecting a spinning gleam with a clang. Seizing my wrist, he dives for the opening in the wall, dragging me with him as another dagger thuds into the bookshelf.

A dagger?

My gaze picks out second figure in the room, a figure whose eyes are now blazing with anger as they stab through me. More boots are pounding up the stairs and I duck, punching a button as another dagger hurtles through the air, clattering against the inside wall moments before the door shuts.

Flaming flames! Or whatever it is they say in Braceaon. Daraton must have been practicing recently. It isn’t right for one man to have so many skills.

“Jerin…” my voice trails off as I spin to face the figure in the dim but growing automatic lights of the concealed corridor.

“Jerin?” The man’s eyebrows lift up. They are so alike, and yet so different. More firm. More determined. And yet with the same tense sorrow I’d seen earlier. “My brother lets you call him Jerin?”

Daraton. My breath sticks in my throat.

No wonder the other figure threw daggers so well.

And now Jerin is left facing Daraton’s men. I only hope he doesn’t kill them all. That would really put the brothers on bad terms.

Daraton sweeps up his brother’s dagger from the floor and slips it in his belt, his face dark. “What dealings do you have with Jerinthreo?”

“I don’t…I’m not…” Why can I scold Jerin and yet find myself wordless when faced with his brother. Their hair. Their build. Their nose and jaw. It is the same. And yet Daraton’s eyes are different. Hard, wary… He scowls.

“Whatever the reason she sent you with that stone, it better have been worth interrupting the judgment of an avenger of blood.” Daraton’s eyes sparked, his hand tightening over his sword’s hilt. “How did you even get over here? I gave stern orders to the contrary. Ethred wouldn’t let anyone over unless it were a matter of life and death.”

“Do you think she doesn’t have her ways?” The words spill out before I can stop them, even as my mind spins. She? The stone? It was an heirloom of their house; no single person claimed ownership of it and certainly not a girl. Not that I ought to complain, the story is sadly lacking in female characters. But what is Daraton…

A sword stabs through the drywall of the entrance, almost grazing my cheek.

The blade Andrith. Apparently the wall is far from innocent because the blade withdraws, then carves another gash into the wall.

“He’s getting quicker.” Daraton mutters, his hand closing about my wrist. “Well, which way is out? Unless you’re going to let me finish the fight this time?”

“Not a chance.” I pull my hand from his grasp. “This way.”

I always told you it was a good idea for us have a secret passage.

Yes, and maybe it still would be if the doors actually kept out intruders, I counter as I dash around a corner. As it is, it will work well enough as an escape route. And, once we are outside there are dozens of places to hide in the surrounding forest or fields. Assuming we can get out of the house.

Because that’s another downside of this passage. It leads to the kitchen pantry. Though Jerin can’t know that, so we should be safe. The crashing behinds us ends with the sound of crumpling wall and I shove open the door to and spring into the shadows of the wide pantry.

My fingers close over the handle and I yank the door open then freeze, drawing a sharp breath. The kitchen glows in a faint light. Dishes, food, and glass lie in shambles over the floor and the door to my fridge hangs open at a rakish angle. Even as I watch, a soldier steps from the inside, almost slipping on the tile floor. But my brain doesn’t even comprehend the ridiculousness of the portal’s exit as my gaze fastens on a pair of pale blue eyes meeting my own, then travels outwards, to his clipped black hair. His dark face. His red and gold clothing. The black belts crossing his chest and the silver blade flicking between his fingers.

Varizan, dark lord of someplacethatneedsaname and a character who isn’t even supposed to be in Braceaon yet.

This…

This is not good.

So, what do you think? Any favorite characters? Any guesses at to what will come next?

Summer Reading: Mini-Reviews

As summer has progressed, I’ve gotten busier. The good news is I’ve managed to keep track on writing. The bad news is that my reading list has suffered.

summer-2016-books1

Some of you might remember was writing monthly reviews on what I’d read, but I realized I’d only be posting about one or two books a month, so I decided I’d settle for writing seasonal mini-reviews on the fiction I’d been reading.

a-branch-of-silver-a-branch-of-goldOverview: When Heloise’s sister vanishes, she will do anything to get her back. No matter the cost.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: I loved the depth of the fantasy world and the characters. I also liked how there was very little romance…a few hints of what could happen towards the end, but that was it. This is the first book in a series and, while ending the story, A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold was left very open ended (obviously). The climax of the book was exciting but *spoilers* I did feel like it more involved Heloise reacting to situations and accepting help than actively forcing a conclusion.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. This book was an exciting read and I enjoyed how the focus was more sibling orientated than romance orientated…though that is something which I’ve a feeling won’t continue through the series.

elantris

Overview: Once a transformation called the Shaod gave ordinary humans power. Now it is a disease. For those who are struck, there is no cure and they are thrown into the city they once ruled, Elantris. But while Elantris is rotting from the inside, not all is well in the lands under its shadow either.

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: This is the closest to an ‘epic’ fantasy I’ve read in awhile. The book is long, but I didn’t find it slow. Also, three cheers for a story contained in a single book! I loved the depth of the fantasy world and the multiple threads of politics and religion with influence the story. The themes of loyalty and doing one’s duty are strong, but Elantris is not a Christian fiction book so the religions are just that, belief systems of the world. They’re not allegorical, they are just there. There is also a magical element in the story with an abstract force which can be tapped into by those with the right abilities.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. I love fantasy, so I loved all the subplots and threads of this story, but this book isn’t for everyone. However, if you enjoy world-building and don’t mind an abstract view of magic or fictional religions (they play a fairly large part in the story, though their details aren’t gone into much…it’s political as much as anything else) then I’d definitely recommend the book for those 13 and up (due to an element of violence which isn’t graphic, but is still present).

cave-worldOverview: Donny enjoys writing about his science-fiction world where all worlds are connected by the caves of the planet Arrax. What he doesn’t expect is to be caught into his own world.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4 of 5 – Characters: 4.5 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: Cave World was a fun read. I loved the humor included as well as the idea of meeting one’s characters and entering a world one has created. The characters were fun and the plot moved quickly.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. An enjoyable read, but I’d recommend it for those 13 and up since it is on the darker side of Christian science fiction when it comes to violence.

Overview: What if some people have the gift to read characters out of books? And what happens when the villains escape and want to use the reader’s gift for their own profit.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: I’ve read Inkheart and Inkspell, and Inkdeath is on my list sometime soon. These books are charming and well written with great characters. The first one started a little slow, the next one not so much. But even if it takes 100 or so pages before the story is moving quickly, they are also 500+ pages long so there is plenty of time for action. Warning: there are a few minor swear words, mainly when the aunt is talking.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. I’ve enjoyed these books very much. As I mentioned before, I love writers meeting characters and the idea of going into a book.

the-secret-of-the-lost-settlementOverview: A Colonel must find proof to save himself and his friend from the gallows while two brothers eager for an adventure take it upon themselves to help him.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4 of 5 – Characters: 4 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: Secret of the Lost Settlement brings Colonel Nobody from The Boy Colonel and Lawrence and Chester from Brothers at Arms together in one adventure. This is a fairly quick and enjoyable read.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. If you’ve read the first two books, then this book is a fun sequel where you can see your favorite characters again.

What about you? Have you, or will you, read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What have you been reading this summer?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

 

Fidelyon Beta-Readers!

So, if any of you guys remember the blog schedule I wrote up last month, you’ll see that I’m already off track. I know. *sighs* I’ve given up. Kind of. I have the caption challenges on Monday, some steady posts on Wednesday (like the serial story, New Fantasy Times, and articles on publication and Christian writers), and wip and such posts on weekends. Anyway, a pattern might emerge eventually. But…yes, that’s where I’m at in blogging.

Now onto the main purpose of this post. I’m opening up Fidelyon to a select number of beta-readers! You might have read bits about it in the A-Z list Ethaniel is going through. And, finally, I’ve written up a teaser for the book:

Ancient sign, bitter fate,

Scar and oath and quest

Revealing name, brought to light

Power from destroyer wrest.

Ethaniel knows the first stanza of the well-known prophecy by heart. What else could he expect with it repeated in nightmares year after year? As an orphan, with no family name in a land where the exploits of ancestors are as important as a man’s own actions, Ethaniel longs for a chance – any chance, to prove himself.

When a grueling messenger run brings him before the king of Elentisa, a quest Ethaniel never imagined offers him that chance. An oath to the king and an assassination attempt later, the messenger finds himself fleeing through a pathless forest.

Alongside Jagger, a jester’s apprentice from the palace, Ethaniel follows ancient riddles through some of Elentisa’s most treacherous terrain in search of a weapon concealed by the Prince. A shield, the finding of which heralds the end of the age and points to the deliverer who can save Elentisa from her greatest danger. Ethaniel’s duty to his nation and friends is clear. Besides, what else could earn him a name of such honor as the task of finding the shield?

But it doesn’t take long before Ethaniel discovers the greatest dangers are not those he faces on his quest. Deeply laid plots and treachery run further into his misty past than he ever dreamed. The name he is given appears nearly impossible to live up to, no matter what he sacrifices. Prophecies, blackened by his own mistakes, weigh down on his mind. And the promise of the nameless shield he carries hovers just out of reach – the promise of the word, emblazoned across the muted metal.

The promise of Fidelyon

Fidelyon

Collage pictures from Pinterest

Now, onto beta-reading. Here is how it (hopefully) will work

1. Signups will be open for a week (I’ll close them Sunday, September 18th)

2. On Monday, I’ll send out the first part of Fidelyon. The novel is around 150,000 words and is divided into five parts. I’ll be sending it out part by part…you have to deliver the previous part before getting the next one. Unless I’m feeling merciful. *evil laugh* Don’t count on it. I’m working through corrections of my own which will be done by the end of September, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with you.

3. I’m dividing beta reading into two parts. At least that is the plan. The first wave will focus on the plot, theme, and characters. The second wave will focus on grammar, spelling, and can also give me overview type comments on particular spots which I’ll have heard about and strengthened from the first wave. You can choose whichever wave you think you fit best. (and, just because you sign up to deal with grammar, that doesn’t mean you can’t comment on the plot too, and visa versa.) Here’s the deal…if you are part of the first wave, it would be nice if you could get me each part back 2-3 weeks after receiving it so that I can incorporate your corrections and send it off to the next batch. And if you’re in the second wave, you won’t get the first part until the beginning of October, but you will have a more relaxed schedule to beta-read. That being said, it would be nice to get all the corrections back by the end of the year if possible.

4. *takes deep breath* So…after having said all of that, this is the first time I’ve tried to organize beta reading this way, and if you think you’ll take longer or something in this schedule doesn’t fit what you are able to do but you still want to beta-read Fidelyon – well, you probably still can. There’s a place in the form below to detail what you need.

5. Andddddd, I think that’s it! Sign-up if you are interested in beta-reading Fidelyon. I’ll send out an email next Monday or Tuesday to everyone chosen to beta-read Fidelyon and we’ll go from there.

Fidelyon: ‘C’ Ethaniel

Ethaniel, the main character in my novel, Fidelyon, has taken it upon himself to introduce you to his world by going through an alphabet of terms and names.

I have two names which begin with ‘C’ for you today.

The first is Calexa. Of the twelve provinces of Elentisa, each with a capital the same name of the province, Calexa is the largest of them all. The fifth major port city along the Elentisaren coast, the city of Calexa is a center of trade and bustles with craftsmen of all sorts. The people tend to be talkative and merry, or so I’ve heard. I was only there once, briefly, in the middle of winter and in the middle of war. No one was merry and there was very little speakcedricing.

Cedric is the other name that begins with C. The Councilman of Ryth, Cedric is also a merchant and savvy businessman. Brother to Anthedon, also a Councilman, the two have been a great help in the war against Voland. In private, they argue almost constantly, balancing Cedric’s occasional rashness with Anthedon’s cautious planning until they are sure they have hammered out the best plan possible. In public, they show an undivided front.

A father of two daughters, Cedric longs for home life but is dedicated to the wellbeing of his country, no matter the cost.

Unrelated to these ‘C’ words, Hope bids me inform you all that beta reading sign-ups for Fidelyon will open tomorrow! So keep your eyes open for that extra post if, you know…you’re interested in me and my story for some reason.

 

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