Changing Course~A Must Read!

ChangingCourse

 

Another hit outta the park!

No matter what genre Brey Willows turns her hand to we can count on meeting incredible characters, falling into a mind-blowing world and being swept away by a wonderful story. To say I loved this one is a bit of an understatement. I consumed it. I couldn’t put it down and I will read it again.
The characters (except for the walk-ons) are all well-drawn and memorable. Even the bad guy. Even the bad guy that was supposed to be the bad guy, but really wasn’t. (Read it, you’ll see what I mean)
The landscape was so real I could feel sand and grit and desperation.
The ending made perfect sense and was not contrived in any way. It was a great wrap-up. And would you look at that cover! Gorgeous! The romance worked perfectly too!
Loved it…loved it…loved it!

You can get a copy on November 1, 2019 at BoldStrokes Books

Thank you to NetGalley, and Bold Strokes Books for the opportunity to read the ARC, and to Brey Willows for sharing her gift once again.

Infinite Worlds – An Excerpt

infiniteworlds

Today I wanted to share with you an exclusive sneak peek at a bit of ‘Infinite Worlds’.  In this bit, Coriander and Devi are having a conversation with the Chancellor of New Olympus. No sooner had they adjusted to finding an entire population and culture that they didn’t know existed, that planet’s ruler lays this on them…

“Among our Archives are documents that direct us to prepare our world for visitors from Earth,” Reatha said as she filled their cups with wine from her personal stock. “When I was declared Chancellor, I was shown these documents. Our ancestors have left instructions to encourage friendships with those from Earth, but also clear the way for people from your world to settle here on New Olympus if they choose to do so.” She settled on her lounge and regarded her guests seriously. “Dr. Baffin tells me that in your written history on Earth, there is a tradition of sharing a place with others through the written word?”
Coriander nodded. “Many years ago, when travel was more challenging, explorers would travel to different parts of the world and write about their adventures. The literature, what we call books, would describe far-off places and the people that lived there, as well as their culture. This encouraged others to travel and explore.”
“Exactly what our endeavor will require!” The Chancellor smiled.
“Which endeavor would that be, exactly?” Coriander asked with a furrow between her eyes.
“You will write such a book describing New Olympus and our customs for the people of Earth who might wish to know more about us. Then we will not be strangers to them, and when a way between our worlds is found, perhaps some of those Earthers will wish to come here.” Reatha said, matter-of-factly.
“Why do you want people from Earth to come here?” Devi asked.
“Dr. Baffin has told you that our Archive explains how New Olympus came to be populated, and named, correct?”
Devi and Coriander nodded silently.
“Then if our world was first inhabited by Earthers, it is reasonable to encourage such a thing once again. But consider this, when I was a child, I was taught that the beasts of New Olympus do not mate for life, but take many partners in order to increase the diversity of the species. I imagine this may be what the First Ones had in mind when they encouraged us to welcome Earthers to New Olympus.”
“So you want to increase the diversity of your people?” Coriander asked slowly.
“Indeed,” Reatha agreed, nodding. “I believe it would bring about growth, a widening of perspective and broaden our horizons in ways we cannot yet imagine! Think of the things we could all learn from one another, the possibilities are endless.”

 

Exciting stuff! Can you imagine the possibilities of finding another culture on a planet other than our own? How alien do you think they would be, or do you think they would be like us? Let me know in the comments section!

One of The Many Faces of Fantasy

portal2 As many Indies do, I’ve been struggling with finding just the right category for  my work. This has led to a closer examination of genre and sub-genres, some of which I’ve never even heard of! Here’s something that caught my eye this morning on the Best Fantasy Books website,

Portal Fantasy:

A doorway has opened to a magical world and a would-be hero has stepped through—that’s how almost all stories in the sub-genre of Portal Fantasy begin. The portal is a magical doorway connecting two locations separated by space-time. The hero either passes through it willingly or is summoned to the other world—usually to help save the other world. The hero usually spends the whole story trying to get home. But what draws readers to this near clichéd sub-genre? The portal itself is a powerful metaphor—it forces us to enter the unknown and open ourselves up to its possibilities. Even with its predictable plot, the reading experience this sub-genre offers can be unpredictable, because we never know what lies on the other side. 

Do you read fantasy? Why? Share your thoughts with us! 

What’s On Your Shelves?

One of the bloggers I follow (waves to Jamie at Live To Write – Write To Live) posted a photo of her writershelf, and I thought it was cute. Even her cat. (Don’t tell my dog Harley, okay?) Well, all I have is one bookcase, but I think it’s interesting. It is a mix of DIY, fiction, writing books, and did I mention fiction? Speculative fiction, horror, humor, fantasy, a couple collections of short stories, old books (pre-1970) that we’ve collected, and a mish-mash of books on tea, knitting, crystals, herbs and homesteading. It’s a crazy only-slightly-organized mess, but here it is.

1) The top shelf is a combination of reference, writing manuals, fantasy (Piers Anthony, J.R.R Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley), science fiction (Arthur C. Clarke) and lesbian fiction (Lori Lake, Radclyffe, J.P Mercer) and one lone Dean Koontz book.

2) Second shelf is a combination of manuals, fantasy, crime (Kathy Reichs), short story collections, and more reference.

3) Third shelf is a hodge-podge of homesteading, fantasy (more M.Z.B), dystopian end-of-the-world stuff (A. American), more spec-fic, gardening, quilting (Jennifer Chiaverini) knitting (Yarn Harlot) and crochet.

4) Even more reference on DIY, preserving, more lesbian fiction (behind the stack of fantasy), more fantasy over to the right and more reference books.

5) This is the shelf you can’t see because I couldn’t get it all in the photo without showing you messy stuff in the room. On this shelf is almost all of the Harry Potter series (I’m missing one measley book!), quite a few Patricia Cornwell books, more crime by J.D Robb, more Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your shelves?

whatsonyourshelf

As always, if you enjoy this post, please follow and tell your friends! Let me know in the comments what you’re reading. If you have a blog…tag! Share a picture of your bookshelves!

If It’s Easy

I am thrilled to have news, so thrilled, I want to shout it from the treetops, but I won’t.

(I have a thing about heights)

Anyway, after a lot of work, one of my short stories has finally been born to the big bright world!

ifitseasy2

Here’s the synopsis, ‘When a Djinn is discovered inside a popular author’s computer, it’s only the beginning of the strange twist Coriander’s life has taken. Now she’s on the cusp of an out-of-this-world adventure with a woman that’s stolen her heart, and is offering much, much more than the moon.’

The story is a bit of romance, a lot of speculative fiction and a lead up to an adventure.

I’m very  proud of it, but I’m biased, and absolutely captured by these characters.  Coriander Wolf is a popular science fiction author who falls head over heels for Devi Aradesta, who is everything Cori is not. Where Cori is a shy, blonde introvert, Devi is exotic, forward, crisp and alluring with a gentle voice with a hint of a mysterious accent. They are about to tumble into an adventure neither of them saw coming.

The thing about short fiction is that you don’t need to set aside hours to read. It’s cheaper. Instead of laying out $18 like so many bookstores ask, short fiction is an inexpensive investment, and it offers up more choice in the literary landscape.

‘If It’s Easy’ can be found on Amazon right now for a mere .99 cents USD I hope you’re intrigued enough to go buy a copy, read it and then come back here and tell me what you thought.

I hope you enjoy it.

In the meantime, I’m going back to work on the sequel. Cheers!

The Wilderness In My Soul

HPIM1710

I’ve been writing for a number of years now, and over the years, my Muse has been both helpful and a fickle twit. Once upon a time, she abandoned me for nearly a decade. I thought I would be story-dry for the rest of my life.

Turns out, all I had to do was move back up north.

Once I settled back into a life among the wilds, my Muse raced back with a speed that was unsettling at times. It was as if she was perked up by pine-infused air, and boosted by birdsong!

One of the first short stories I began developing shortly after moving was inspired by taking my dog outside. As he was sniffing, I looked around me at our end of the valley. I was home, safe, cradled within the cliffs dotted with birch and maples. It wasn’t hard to imagine a young woman trying to climb over the ridges and make her way out of the valley. But what would make someone attempt such a hazardous trek? She has no choice…her survival, and that of her people, depends on her quest. It was easy to slip inside her skin as she huddled around her campfire that first night. She heard the coyotes that sang the song of their people outside my door. She heard the call of the owl in my backyard, and she saw the beaver that slapped its tail in the pond twenty feet away from my front door. That young woman, Butter, not only has to make her way in uncharted territory and survive in a wilderness she’s never experienced before, but she also has to decide if she can trust the outcast whose path she crosses. She cannot forget the point of her quest, either. To come back with a whole, living plant that will save her people and their future.

I am incredibly fortunate to live surrounded by trees, water and wild animals. This is a large part of my identity, both as a person and as a writer. But I have always felt the pull of the women whispering stories in my ear. The women explorers who curled up with their female companions at night. The women chasing convicted criminals across time and space. Those women that undertook impossible quests to save their people, and those that agreed to live with dragons and be a voice for her people. (Thankfully, my wife doesn’t mind sharing me with them!)

There is a growing library of work set in Canada, and for some reason, the majority of these seem to be either crime or romance. I’m fascinated and intrigued by the potential for speculative fiction here. I’ve found few pieces of fiction set in Northern Ontario. I hope to change that. I realize there may well be a small number of folks who are interested, but that’s the direction that my Muse has been tugging me. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I find further encouragement in the words of J.K Rowling, “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

And on the days that I need just a bit more encouragement, I turn to this bit of wisdom from Eric Morgenstern, handwritten and taped near my computer.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

My Muse agrees.

 

The Ambassador-Part Two

DragonCapture

(A work-in-progress. the first part can be found here  I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to your comments!)

And now, the continuation

****

I scratched the side of my nose while I considered his words, and my sanity. “Why do you need an ambassador?”

“To help pave the way for our return. Far too many think my kind are creatures of fiction and legend. We were once respected and feared.”

“Is that what you want, to be feared again?”

“Some do.” Barroth replied. “I see us in a different way. I believe we have a role to fill, as educators and keepers of knowledge.”

“Are there many of you?” I asked.

“More than you realize. We are not as numerous as we once were, we spread ourselves out in order to avoid attention. But as with any great comeback, many of us agree that we dragons need someone to smooth the way. That would be you.”

I scratched my nose again and listened to the washing machine fill. “I see. That’s a big job, what’s required of me?”

“Well, we thought that perhaps a visit with a few of my brethren might be in order, so we’ve arranged for you to speak with a few of our Elders about our return.”

“When and where? You won’t all fit down here and someone is bound to notice eventually.”

“Agreed. The oldest of us settled many years ago into a dry and warm region filled with caves. The Elders are too old to fly now, so it has been decided that I will bring you to them.”

Barroth studied me with his large blue eye that reminded me of a picture I’d seen once of Earth from space. “How much time do you need to prepare?”

“That would depend on where we’re going and how long I’ll be away.” I gestured toward the backyard. “Listen, would you like to sit out in the sun? There’s no one around and this isn’t the best place to be negotiating this sort of thing.”

Barroth began to chuckle. It sounded like large boulders were being gargled. “Negotiate…you’re a funny human. Outside would feel good, it’s been too long since my scales have been warm.” Faster than I could blink, he was gone and the book he’d been studying clattered to the floor.

The basement door squealed in protest as I shut it and went up the old, uneven basement steps. My backyard was really an open field bordered by tall pine trees. My neighbors had moved recently, leaving me the last house before the end of the road, so no one was likely to see Barroth sunning himself. I plucked a camp chair from beside the house and sat facing his head. He stretched out his wings on the grass, extended his neck and rumbled deep in his chest. He reminded me very much of a happy cat. I stretched out in my chair, closed my eyes and tilted my face toward the sun. We stayed like that for some time before he spoke again.

 

“I have missed this. I will be glad to return to the warm sand.”

“Is it true that some of your kind prefer forests and water?”

“It is. Much like your people, my kind are adapted differently for their living environments. How long will you need to prepare for our flight?”

“Flight?” I squeaked. “Like, flying?”

Barroth spread his wings and beat them against the warm air. “Indeed. That is why I have these.”

“Oh no, I can’t do heights. I’ll pass out and fall off.” I insisted, shaking my head.

He sighed a mighty gust of air against my legs. “Very well. There is another way to get there. It is faster, but cold. You will need to dress for it just before we leave.”

“Thank you. How long will we be gone?”

“That is unknowable. The Elders have a  love of knowledge and information. I am sure they have as many questions for you as you will have for them. It would be safe to assume many days, but you may take only what fits in your back bag.”

“Backpack?”I asked.

“Yes, that.” He gave another mighty sigh, as if frustrated with the human in front of him.

I closed my eyes again. “Can you breathe fire?”

“I can, when I choose to. It is primarily a defense mechanism. I would have expected you to know that already, with all the knowledge humans seem to collect. You are my first, you know.”

That made me sit up. “Really?”

“Indeed. When I was young, one of the Elders would tell the hatchlings tales of a strange type of beast that walked upright without scales and wings. She said they were weak at first, but cunning as they aged. She told us that if we should ever encounter one, to avoid them at all costs because what they knew best was torture and death. But I have been curious ever since.”

“What brought you to my basement then?”

“As I said, I was seeking shelter. You did not smell like a threat and I was curious. I have left on occasion, to report back to the Elders. They agree we need someone who is unafraid, and willing to help us come out of the shadows.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’m the right human for the task, but we aren’t all torturous and deadly. Some are I suppose. But just as many are inquisitive.”

“Hmm.” Barroth hummed and fell silent.

We sat there sunning ourselves until late afternoon. Then Barroth stretched his wings and said, “I must hunt. Rodents will not fuel me for the journey back. I will wait for you here at sunrise.”

 

I made sure my laundry was done that evening and prepared to be away for weeks.

Just in case I wasn’t insane and really was going to confer with Dragon Elders.

****

I woke before the sun appeared over the tree-tops. Curiosity nibbled at me most of the night and kept sleep at bay. There was no logic in laying there wondering, so I got up and peeked out the window at the backyard. Sure enough, a large dark form waited there.  I dressed in layers as I ate a hearty breakfast. By the time my oatmeal was gone, I had decided to bring along a large bag of coffee. I was a bear without it first thing in the morning and it was doubtful the dragons would have any. It was buried deep among the clothes in my pack and I closed the house up.

 

Barroth lifted his head as I came around the corner of the house. “Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be, I suppose. I am coming back, right?”

“Yes.” He replied.

I stopped and studied him, slightly suspicious. “There’s more to your answer, isn’t there?”

He sighed and a tendril of smoke came from his nostrils. “In the past there have been humans that came to share information. Although they returned to your world, in the end, they decided to return to my kind. I have no way of knowing if you will do the same, so I cannot give you a proper answer.”

“Fair enough.” I nodded. “If we won’t be flying, how will we get to where we’re going?”

“Dragon-kind has always had the ability to telekinetically relocate themselves. I prefer to fly, but since you are uncomfortable with heights, we will travel this way.” He replied.

“How does it work?” I asked.

“I am unsure how to describe it properly. I will fix a vision of the Meeting Place in my mind, we will be surrounded by darkness and a deep cold for a short time. But when we arrive at the Meeting Place, we will be warm soon enough. You need to empty your mind if you can, think of nothing or your thoughts may interfere and send us to a most unpleasant place.”

I swallowed nervously.

“If you settle just behind my wings, you will be able to fit in front of my first back-ridge. If you hold firmly, you will not fall off.”

I put my thick leather mitts on and sat where he directed. I tried not to think of the things that could go wrong as I held on to the muscular shoulders of his wings. Just a bit of cold and then everything would be okay.

Barroth turned his head toward me and rumbled, “Remember, empty your mind. Brace yourself.”

I swallowed my nervousness and nodded.

To be continued

The Ambassador

DragonCapture

(This is an excerpt from a larger work in progress.)

When I went downstairs with a load of laundry, the last thing I expected to find was a dragon with a book between it’s front feet. It was startling to say the least.

“Listen, do you think you could fix that door so it doesn’t squeal so much?” The dragon asked in a rumbling voice.

“Um, sure.” I replied eloquently as I stood and gawked.

“What are you staring for?” It asked me before gesturing to the piles of boxes marked ‘books’. “You have all this knowledge on my kind, I would think you’d be thrilled to see me.”

“I never expected to actually meet one of you, let alone have a conversation with you.” I stammered. “I’m…”

“I know who you are,” he interrupted me in a deep voice. “I’ve been down here long enough that I know all about you.”

“Why have I never seen you before today?” I asked.

“I didn’t want you to.” He replied. “Your clothes won’t get clean if you stand there holding them. But leave the door open, will you? It hurts my ears every time you open and close it. My name is Barroth.” He said as I stood there a moment longer. He was a classic example of a western dragon. He was the size of a large SUV, with back ridges, large head, dark red scales and a long tail. He was laying on the floor with a book clasped in the claws of his front feet.

I finally remembered my manners. “I’m honored to meet you, Barroth.” I gestured toward the washing machine. “Will that bother you?”

“No, it’s just the door, really.”

With some difficulty, I turned away from him and loaded the machine, added detergent and gently closed the lid.

“You must have questions.” He said from the other side of the room.

 

“Quite a few in fact, but I didn’t want to be rude.” I turned toward him and leaned on the washing machine.

“I suppose I can answer a few.”

“Obviously this is a bit of a shock to me, but I’m thrilled to find you. I thought the only living things down here were rodents.” A shudder raced through me.

“You don’t like them?”

“They terrify me.” I admitted.

“But you’re fine with talking to a large fire-breathing creature.” There was an undercurrent of humor in his statement.

“Yeah, ironic, I know. Can I ask, why my basement?”

“At first, when I was smaller, I needed shelter and the door had been left open. I got bored waiting for the storm to pass and started reading. Long after the storm moved on, I stayed. I read, ate the occasional rodent and got to know you. You intrigued me. I’ve decided you’ll do.”

“For?”

“An ambassador, of course.”

(As I said, this is but an excerpt. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can either leave a comment here or email me at dragonquillca@gmail.com)