8.15.2017

#perseverance #writer #writing

I belong to a fantastic group of writer's called the Insecure Support Writer's Group. If you haven't joined yet, you should. 

The group was asked in July: 
What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? And this was my answer:

**PERSEVERANCE** 
is a valuable lesson. 

Once you begin your story, you are a writer. It doesn't matter what genre or if you write flash fiction, short stories, articles, or novels. If you wish to pursue traditional publishing, small independent presses, or self-publishing, it can be quite daunting. 

The lonely and long hours you put into your work and self-sacrificing your time can be a joy and/or a drudgery. You need to persevere.

It's your first draft, and you type those phenomenal two words: *THE ENDBut really it's the beginning. A second draft, a third draft, editing, revising, beta readers and so on...persistence

Then if you seek an agent or submit to publishing houses it's another path filled with road blocks of disappointments and rejections. 

But my mantra is: "It only takes one YES" and for that one yes you need: **PERSEVERANCE**


You can join this wonderful group here:

8.08.2017

Why We Love Series


I read a lot. And I read fast. Thankfully I've built up my TBR list to such a huge scale that I'll never run out of books.

What I love the most is book series. Most readers feel the same way. As a writer, I can't help but wonder why people love series so much. Stand alone books can be fantastic reads, but series of books attract me much more.

First, and most obvious, is that we can't get enough of what we love. We want more. Series of books fill that need. Finding characters I love make me want to follow them through their whole lives. Exploring wonderful new worlds can have me reading for hours, and I get excited when new parts of the world are revealed as the series goes on.

I get deep into plots that slowly unfurl over time. With a story just in one book, it all has to be tied up at the end, but in a series, there is a longer buildup for the over-arching plot. I want all the details, to wonder what might happen next, and to be taken on all sorts of twists and turns.

Another reason we love series is familiarity. We know the characters and the world. There's comfort in that, and when the author manages to surprise us with something new in our favorite series, it reinforces the adoration.

Choosing from the countless shelves of other books can be overwhelming. Something in the same series makes our next read an easy choice. Less stress is good for us all.

What are your favorite things about reading a series?

I'm celebrating my urban fantasy series, Totem, with the release of the 8th and penultimate book today!

Some say the moon is for lovers, but wise folks know to fear it.

Kinley Dorn must be strong for her family in these dark times. Sometimes she feels she’s all that’s holding them together. But when the frightening Moon Man attacks and bestows a burdensome gift upon her, Kinley might have to do more than simply help her family. She will have to battle a god, but which one? If it’s the sly man hunting her in the astral plane, Kinley might not make it out alive.

8.03.2017

Book Reviews: 3 awesome books from the Untethered Realms authors #amreading

We have such an amazing group of authors in Untethered Realms. I eat up all of my fellow members' books, and I wanted to share with you three of my most recent reads.

Saving the Phoenix Guard has changed him forever.

My review: In a great battle against the Great Beyonders, Liam died on the field. Yet the Phoenix Prophetess Yssa somehow brought him back to life. He never wanted to be apart from her, but now he struggles with seeing and hearing things that aren't there. Dark threats still shadow the kingdom, and Liam will do everything in his power to protect Yssa. This also includes finding out what is happening to him. If only he can find the information he needs in time.

This well-written fantasy novella takes place just after Reborn, the first book of The Fate Challenges. It brings us from Yssa's point of view into Liam's, her Phoenix Guard. I loved seeing Yssa from a different point of view. We are all harder on ourselves after all. Liam strives to protect her and make her happy, and sometimes those two goals are opposed to one another.

The aftermath of a huge battle isn't pretty. We see the celebration and the grief. Liam is a soldier and has lost many comrades, and this makes his struggle with his own situation even more immense. Love gives him strength, though. It was fascinating to follow along with him as he researched the only other man to be brought back from the dead and wonder what exactly happened then, and what might happen to him. I can't wait for the next book to see where it will take Yssa and Liam!


 
The first shot of a new war echoes through the galaxy.

My review: The Backworlds and Foreworlds have banned together with the hope of defeating a terrifying enemy, the Quassers. Craze gave up his friends and livelihood to become the envoy for the Backworlds. All he'd rather be doing is brewing some malt and tending his bar, but there is much more than his pride at stake here. The alliance is shaky, and Craze can't afford to let it fall apart. They have one more chance at survival, and it's all or nothing.

I loved delving back into the rich universe of this space opera series. The settings, characters, and storylines are all marvelously varied, but twine together so very well. I'm often reminded of Firefly with Craze and his friends out to save the universe armed with their good hearts and sometimes good luck. But things don't go their way all the time.

The cast in this series is large, but none of them suffer from lack of depth. Each of them have their own tales, but a powerful love of friends holds them together. The twists in the plot had me shouting "Oh my God!" out loud, and several times, it tugged hard at my heart. Plus there were some clever bits in there like the crusties and the tendrils. This is an immensely heavy book, and I didn't want it to end. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Backworlds.


The Weird West just gets weirder.

My review: Orville "foretells" people's futures for coin, but Jimmy hopes to make a more honest living in the Old West. The two hucksters are captured by a dark wizard named Marzby who lures them in with a plea for help with a knocker. Orville is held prisoner as Jimmy is sent out to find an enchanted knife and bring it back to Marzby within three days. Help isn't coming, and Jimmy doesn't know what's more pesky: shapeshifting varmints or a tenacious girl who refuses to be sent home to her ma. The knife is an evil thing and no one should have their hands on it, but how else is Jimmy going to rescue Orville?

This weird Old West tale was a marvelous adventure. It me laughing with Jimmy's similes and Isobel's antics, and it had me on the edge of my seat with the thrilling action and thick tension. There were a few twists and turns I didn't see coming. It was just the sort of gritty, supernaturally fun plot I enjoy.

Jimmy is immediately likable. He's loyal, goodhearted, and not afraid of hard work. He can be a wily young man too. Orville is exactly what I imagine a huckster to be like. Slick of tongue, able to talk himself out of most situations. I particularly enjoyed the interaction with Jimmy and the girl, Isobel. She's got the makings of a great hero and huckster herself! Marzby was a despicable villain. The kind I love to hate. I always wondered exactly how much he knew and how he would turn the events into his favor.

8.01.2017

Cat Sidhe, Coming in Late October

Cat Sidhe: Into the Witch Lands I

Cat Sidhe is the first in a trilogy of novellas. Merliss the cat, the protagonist from "The Water Wight," is back for more supernatural encounters.

Something nasty has come through one of the ley gates. It walks upright. It talks. And it looks like an oversized cat, but as Merliss can attest, it doesn't smell like a cat. The cat sidhe is on the hunt for slaves, someone with opposable thumbs. Merliss travels to unknown territories to rescue Saerwynn and encounters more trouble making her way home. The situation is far more dire than Merliss and her friends could have imagined.

~~~

A gust whistled through the crevices between the rocks. There was a ley here, but not one Merliss travelled. It linked to a network far to the northeast, in a cold, rugged land of steep hills and valley streams.

A pulsing blue pulled Merliss out of the hunt, pushing all thoughts of the vole aside. The runes around the ley's arch glowed with the sharpness of the day of their carving and then faded to the faint scratches of today. Her whiskers twitched. The air crackled with the energy of a lightning strike. The ley was active. Someone was coming.   

From time to time an unwitting animal leapt through a ley in just the right way to activate it. Merliss considered the strange smelling vole. Leys were only active when the sun warmed them. Fog or heavy cloud cover made them dodgy. But such accidental ley leaps were rare. Ley arches hummed with enough energy to ward off animals and even people. The folk living on the moor called them ghost stones. Merliss didn't have enough paws to count the times she had seen someone alter their path to avoid passing near a ley.

Merliss's eyes grew wide and as bright yellow as gorse flowers. The runes pulsed with more energy, no longer fading. To a magical creature's heightened senses, the ley buzzed with the roar of a thousand swarming bee hives. Merliss ran to Saerwynn's side. Blissfully unaware of the ley's activity, the girl tucked the wrapped flower in her satchel, exercising the same care she would give an egg.

"We've done alright for ourselves, we have. A full day's work and hardly half the day gone amiss. Master Fendrel will be pleased, eh?"

Merliss turned her back on Saerwynn to face the ley. Her tail twitched, audibly thumping the ground. The hairs along her back rose as stiff as yew needles. A growl vibrated in her throat. The hill trembled. The vibration crept through the pads of her paws. A ley's disruption was proportional to the distance traveled. This one spanned hundreds upon hundreds of miles.

"What's gotten into you, cat? Just a pile of weathered old stones." Saerwynn's smile twisted. "You don't smell an adder, do you?" She gazed at the base of the rocks, searching for the long, thick body of a viper.

Blue light flashed amidst the stones, wrapping round the edges like a blooming pimpernel of flame.

Saerwynn shrieked. "Ghost stones."

The flash was blinding. Merliss squinted and turned away, saving herself from an eyeful of blind spots by the breadth of a whisker. When she turned back, a yowling, black ball of fur and legs bounced out of the ley. It unwound as it rolled across a waste of rock chips, scattering them like splashed water with each bounce. When it came to rest at the edge of the summit, it possessed all the appearance of a monstrous black cat with a head as big around as a man's, yellow eyes rivaling walnuts, and forelegs stretching three feet.

Merliss hissed through bared teeth, spittle bubbling round the edges of her mouth. Her back arched. Instinct insisted on a show of ferocious force. Instinct also counseled running, but for now Merliss planted her paws and leaned into another hiss. She chanced a look at Saerwynn.

The girl stood silent, her mouth gaping, as dumb as a dead songbird. A rock would have danced a livelier jig. Was the girl already bewitched?

Merliss sniffed between hisses. The cat creature didn't smell like cat, more like sour magic and burnt chicken bones.

The black creature peered at them down the length of its belly. Shimmering black fur, slick as a seal skin wet with oil, covered the creature's body except for a patch of white on its chest, like the chink in a dragon's armor. Inch long claws sprang from its flexing forepaws. Yellow eyes twitched between Merliss and Saerwynn.

The creature clambered onto its hind paws, bringing its head a mere hand below Saerwynn's full height. The tip of its ragged tail brushed the ground. The white patch on its chest rose and contracted with the beat of the creature's heart.

"What, what is it?" sputtered Saerwynn.

Merliss knew exactly what this was. A cat sidhe. A dark witch shifted into a cat-like form. Had the witch done it for the ninth time and stuck herself? What a time to lack speech.

The cat sidhe stretched its arms and rolled it head. Its neck popped and cracked.

Merliss loosed a long, mournful cry. The sunny afternoon darkened. Merliss kept her gaze locked on the cat sidhe's chest, careful to avoid staring into its eyes. To lock gazes with a cat sidhe would grant the monster power over one's soul. Merliss crouched and backed closer to Saerwynn. When a hind paw brushed the girl's staff, the cat thumped it with her tail.

"Prrettyee," said the sidhe. It's tongue wrapped clumsily around the word gurgling up from it's throat. The creature sniffed. It's gaze directed at the satchel. "Willow. Gatherring ingrredients, arre ye?"

The sidhe's gaze returned to Saerwynn. It stepped forward. With its forepaws reaching toward Saerwynn, the sidhe bobbed on hind legs in a herky-jerky motion. If not for its sharp-toothed grin, the exaggerated tip-toe gait would have been comical. The sidhe tilted its head from side to side. Drawing Saerwynn's attention to the eyes, thought Merliss.

"Stop!" Saerwynn took a step backward and stretched her arm to tap the rock pile. "Who are you?"

"Yerr frriend." The sidhe bobbed forward. "I can teach ye, a lassie like ye. Fates've brrung us togetherr."

The eyes, thought Merliss. Don't look in its eyes. Merliss could not talk to Saerwynn, but she could talk to a creature of magic. "Back off!"

The sidhe jerked its attention to Merliss and stared hard at the crouching cat.

Merliss felt the power behind the eyes like a heavy hand squashing her into the dirt. She whacked the staff with her tail, ignoring the pain shuddering up her spine.

"What arre ye?" said the sidhe, all the syrupy sweetness drained from its voice.

"You don't belong here. Go back!" Merliss ended her command with a hiss.

"Hmm," said the sidhe. "Interrresting. What does ye call yerrself?"

"I'm--" Saerwynn apparently thought better of giving away her name. She snatched up the staff to Merliss's relief and thrust the silver point at the black creature.

The sidhe yowled as it stumbled backward, flailing its forelegs. Fleet as a cat, the creature recovered its balance in an instant and stood where it had begun.

"I've got a teacher. And he's no flea-bitten fur bag, so back with you. Back to the pit where you crawled from." Saerwynn jabbed her staff at the creature, rocking it back a half-step, her confidence rising like a flood in a gulley.

"Go on," shouted Saerwynn. "Off with you."

Merliss marveled at the girl's confidence. Was this the Saerwynn who complained of walking up a hill? Perchance she was finally coming into her power, living up to her potential. The thirteenth daughter of a seventh son could have a wild power if caught and groomed. A powerful healer could emerge from an ugly cocoon. Maybe Fendrel had chosen well after all.

The sidhe hissed and flexed the formidable claws in its forepaws.

"Not so hasty, little girrl. Put down yer wee twig. We have much to talk about."

"I've got nary a word to toss at you." Saerwynn glared at the sidhe. "Off with you, I say, or I'll call my master. And he'll put an end to you."

"Yerr masterr. Yerr masterr. What has he taught ye but to wave a stick and sniff out smelly roots?"

"He..." The anger faded from Saerwynn's voice. "He..."

"Hmmm? A cat's got yerr tongue?" Its eyes pulsed between yellow and amber, one color fading into the other.

Not the eyes, thought Merliss. Beware the eyes. This talking had gone on too long. She swiped the air with her claws and yowled, hoping to draw the attention of friend and foe.

The sidhe hissed and cut the wind with its claws.

Saerwynn shook her head like someone waking. She cocked her staff overhead in one hand and sent it flying like a spear.

"Die!"

"No!" cried Merliss. To cast one weapon while reaching for another was strategic. To throw your only weapon was foolish.
~~~

7.25.2017

The Wallows, a Dark #Fantasy Part of Spirits in the Water #speculativefiction



The Wallows
by M. Pax

Spirits in the Water is coming! Get excited for some great stories inspired by the element of water. Here's a snippet from my story, "The Wallows," about a young woman not yet old enough to legally drink with a three-year-old daughter and a lot of stress. She wants nothing more than to escape her troubles. You know what they say... be careful what you wish for...

***

The weird lamppost continued to glow green, and it was the only one still lit. After unlocking her bike, Evernee Weems wheeled it to the lamppost. A small puddle lay under the streetlight, and a drip slowly tumbled from the bowl-shaped shade to the ground. The drop fell slower than normal. Ripples broke the surface of the puddle in perfect circles. After two heartbeats, the puddle settled into a sheen as serene as the cloudless sky.

Evernee studied the shallow depths and sighed. “It’d be cool if it was another world and I could go there.”

The puddle shimmered, and for a scant second she saw the faintest image of a man’s face. She bent over and peered closer. Her eyes blinked back. Two songbirds landed on the opposite side, thirstily pecking at the water. With the drought, how did a puddle form?

Shrugging, Evernee hopped on her bike. She rode to the other side of town to pick up her daughter and parked the bike a block away in a thick hedge. Her phone beeped, the alarm warning she was going to be late picking up Poppy. She jogged down the sidewalk and around the corner. A frowning Mrs. Drow stood at the gate holding Poppy’s hand. She was a tank of a woman with a lot of gray among the badly dyed auburn strands.

“You’ve got a better deal than most, Miss Weems. You know what time I close.”

Because the state paid for Poppy’s daycare, Mrs. Drow believed Evernee had something she didn’t deserve. Maybe she didn’t deserve anything, but Poppy did.

“Sorry, Mrs. Drow. I was at work. You know, earning a living.” She reached for her daughter.

Poppy clutched onto a bunny constructed from old socks and baby clothes. Evernee had sewn it herself. Poppy tore away from Mrs. Drow and, in doing so, ripped the arm off her rabbit. “You late, Mama.” Throwing the bits of bunny on the sidewalk, she marched down the street as if she was about to turn seventeen instead of four.

***
Have you ever wished to escape? Where did you imagine you might find a better world? When I drive into the wilds of Oregon, I still think it'd be grand to find another world hidden in the old forests.


Sometimes I find otherworldly places, but they're still very much in our world. It'd be neat if they weren't... maybe. Be careful what you wish for, right?



7.18.2017

Are you ready to challenge Fate? #ya #fantasy


I published my first novel Reborn (The Fate Challenges #1) back in May 2014. After three years, I now have a second edition of Reborn available as well as two novellas! Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until 2018 for Forged (The Fate Challenges #2) and Destined (The Fate Challenges #3) are ready for me to publish.

I'm also running a sale on Reborn, which is 99c for a limited time. Determined (A bonus novella set between Chapters 24 and 25 in Reborn) is free on my website, and Marked (The Fate Challenges #1.5) will always be 99c. (Prices are subject to change by country.)

To save her kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.
On her seventeenth birthday, Phoenix Prophetess Yssa must leave her home to serve the God of Prophecy. Sea serpents and other gods endanger her travels and sour the omens. Her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove Yssa is cursed instead of blessed. Not yet permitted to give prophecies to temple goers, Yssa spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. Then, there is Liam, the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son. He proves to be a distraction not even a psychic can predict.
Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when premonitions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races to her home an ocean away to stop their deaths. After all, Apenth’s rare Phoenix Prophetesses are gifted with the ability to alter the future. Fate, however, won’t be changed as easily as Yssa assumes. Worse, it has plans for her and the kingdom.
Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight Fate.


A prophetess must prepare for war.

The city of Amora will burn, if the Phoenix Prophetess doesn’t uncover a way to alter Fate. But Yssa is a world away from warning the kingdom of its impending demise.

While Yssa learns fighting techniques from the ferryman’s son Liam and how to follow the threads of Fate from the woodwose seer Zoon, she sets out to restore her friendship with the woodwoses. She is determined to put things right before Liam and she leave at the month of beginnings.

Because when they exit Waldbaum Forest, their real challenges will begin.

Available only through Cherie Reich’s website, Determined is set between chapters 24 and 25 in Reborn and meant to be read in conjunction with the first book of The Fate Challenges.

Saving the Phoenix Guard has changed him forever.

A blade to the gut gave Liam a one-way ticket to the Underworld, but Phoenix Prophetess Yssa brought him back to life. As the second mortal man to survive a sojourn to Hupogaia’s realm, Liam strives to understand how the one he was tasked to protect saved him, why he lived when so many others died during the battle against the Great Beyonders, and, most of all, why he now sees and hears things that aren’t there.

Liam researches the God of Prophecy’s mortal son, the one who also came back, but Moran died over twenty-four hundred years ago. To say that information is scarce is an understatement, but Liam won’t give up.

After all, rumors are flying around the Kingdom of Amora about Yssa’s newfound powers. Threats loom ever closer. Liam must protect the Phoenix Prophetess at any cost. Uncovering Moran’s destiny may be the one thing that helps Liam save the one he loves, if he can find the right scroll in time.


So are you ready to challenge Fate and read The Fate Challenges?

7.11.2017

A Writing Retreat - Report from this time around

I head to Cape Cod every summer for a long-standing writing retreat. I always look forward to it long before summer, and I depend on it to power my writing long after it's over. I just returned from this year's, and I'm withdrawal, though I'm also quite inspired. How do we organize it? We share the cost of VRBO or Airbnb. Then the person who communicates with the rental folks gets taken out for dinner one night. This time it was me and I chose a restaurant in Woods Hole, where all the scientists and oceanographers hang out.
The usual suspects
The perks:
Uninterrupted writing time and meditation/flow to craft story-plot-character.
Hearing my fellow authors typing away with occasional snorts of hilarity, followed by equally hilarious explanations. Laughter is always welcome.
Brainstorm sessions with the authors during morning coffee, at dinner and at beach.
After-dinner readings and helpful critiques.
Tarot Card readings and parlor games involving writing skills.
Shared "war stories", biz tips and giggles.
We take turns making dinner so we get lots of variety, and only have to cook one night.
My morning station

My afternoon station



The downsides:
A week is too short! I've just fully hit my stride when it's already time to pack it in. Having essentially five full days makes me reluctant to take any downtime to visit the local museums or glassblowing studio. I do allow swims at the beach, but little else. As a result, there's a danger of burnout, and a sore back and neck.
A hot room with inadequate or no AC.
Bug bites when eating picnic dinners.
Going around July 4th - too many scary fireworks way too close! Too much traffic.
View from the restaurant in Woods Hole, Ma.
The solutions:
Next year, rent a place for at least two weeks!
Bring along a screened tent or rent a place with a screened in porch.
Take a strong fan.
Go later in July to avoid July 4th issues, but not so late in summer that we can't take advantage of power-boost to summer writing.

What about you? Do you ever do writing retreats? If not, how do you manage to get extended blocks of writing time?
What we needed!
 
What we had