Quick Post – A Preview of the Much-Anticipated Novella

Since this clip was posted on social media, I wanted to additionally toss it up here on the blog – a little taste of Broken.


I heard my father’s footsteps coming towards me, and another wave came over me. I shivered and tried to push it away, tried to straighten up. He was the last person who I wanted to see me like this, not that it would be the first time.

“You look terrible.” That tone was a tone he used with prisoners, sometimes. It wasn’t sympathetic, even though it seemed like the words could have been presented that way. He was judging me right then.

I stared him right in the face. We never looked much alike, me and Da. He kept his hair real short, out of his eyes, and always looked neat and clean. Since I got old enough to have a line of stubble I’ve always had it, where he never had any sign of a beard. He always had a tight lip that seemed to be frowning, which I guess made sense since he dealt with Kaldari and criminals all day. We had the same skin, though – olive colored and easy to tan.

If he’d been anyone else I might have come up with some snide remark or a twist of sarcasm. Instead I just stood and shivered, hoping that whatever other nothing I had in me would stay down. My throat burned.

“You have nothing to say for yourself?” the only change was his eyebrows creasing together, but I knew what that meant. My father didn’t show anger like I did. He could be furious at a person, and all he’d do is twitch. Crease of the eyebrows, well, I should be glad he didn’t have any kelspar on hand, at least none that I could see. “Where do you even find the-” he paused, “never mind, I don’t want to know. Not today.”

Where do you even find the coin? – that’s what he wanted to ask. He’d been holding that question back for a couple months at least. What I wanted to point out was that he should have figured it out by now, being an officer and all. With my abilities I could pickpocket people without even using my hands, which makes it pretty easy. I bartered a lot, too, and I wasn’t so bad at hustling cards. He would have known all that if he knew me at all.

All my thoughts didn’t translate into words. I didn’t have anything to say to him and never had. Ever since I could remember me and Da just never got each other. He was so disciplined, and me, it was like I was born in the wrong family. I worked my throat on a swallow, wishing I had water to drink. I was freezing, my chest hurt to breathe, and gods but I just wanted to lie back down, preferably on a mattress this time.

I started walking inside like he wouldn’t follow, even though I knew he would. He was at my back, not missing a beat. I swung through the never-too-quiet door and made a line for the bedroom that I shared with Keller. My mother looked up from the kitchen table, but didn’t seem interested in stalking me like he did.

“We’re not done here,” Da growled, his composure slipping. He was getting really mad now, which was not a good sign. Usually he just let me go at this point. “Where do you think you’re going to hide?”

I brushed past the red-and-gold tapestry that covered up our room, and my father followed with me. I carried on like he was invisible, like maybe if I pretended he wasn’t there hard enough he would disappear.


The contest for early release copies of Broken is up and running (you can enter here) and final little editing and formatting touches are being added for the 6/26 release. I have a family wedding to go to in another state this weekend and 8,000 more words to write in Forsaken Lands 2 before I start working as an actual physician on July 23rd (this alone is so ridiculous that I can’t even begin to think about it)… so yes, it’s a busy time. Unfortunately while I believe I will make the wordcount goal in FL2 I do not believe it will be finished at the same length as Tragedy. Indeed, I believe it will be longer.

Much longer.

I can’t wait to finally get this sequel draft finished. While it may not be done by the 23rd, getting it up to 90k will be a solid start, and hopefully it won’t be too much longer before it’s done. Look for a preview of the new novel at the end of Broken.

Alright, that’s it for my updates. Write on!

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Updates – ‘Broken’ Novella Release Date and Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Elden is a young man driven by impulse. A natural telekinetic raised by strict disciplinarians, he has struggled all his life to be what anyone expected him to be. On the eve of his brother’s induction into Justice training Elden is faced with a series of crucial choices, the outcome of which will determine his future in ways he never imagined.

As mentioned in a previous post, the writing for Broken happened fast – really fast. I’ve wanted to take the time to explore Elden’s past since his conception, so as soon as I got myself into his head I couldn’t get out until the story was finished. The whirlwind of inspiration was a surprise, albeit a welcome one. Broken takes place approximately 5 years prior to the events in Tragedy, when Elden was 16 years old. In it we get the chance to meet the younger, less-experienced boy who becomes the cocky, life-hardened man we see briefly in Tragedy and more prominently in Sacrifice. He gets a lot of POV time in Sacrifice, which will make Broken a nice introduction to the character prior to reading the sequel (and yes, I am going to finish this sequel – I swear it).

Broken’s release date is now set for June 26th, which should theoretically give me plenty of time to get feedback from the betas and finish up a final edit. Having a release just before the big residency wave hits will *hopefully* keep the writing going strong through the first part of intern year. Intern year is still a giant void at the moment, a point at which it seems my life ceases to exist (mostly because I *still* don’t have a schedule). For now I’m just going to keep writing, reading, and trying to finish as many projects as possible before I hand over the keys to my life. There are a few blog post ideas I’ve come up with, as well, that I hope to write up between now and then. To keep me honest I’m going to put this list out there for all to see –

  • What it means to write “strong female characters”
  • Marketing: one writer’s experience, what I’ve seen from others, and what I’m planning
  • The big Kindle Select vs. Wider Distribution debate
  • Contests?!

If something on that list sounds particularly interesting to any of you, please comment! I will bump that topic to the front of the queue.

Alright, that should be plenty to add to my to-do list. I should probably scurry off to work on some of the more practical items on that list… like packing for my move, which I haven’t done. At all. Have a lovely evening out there in the real world, folks. 😉

Cover Release: An Elden Novella Called “Broken”

Well my friends, interesting things have been happening over here. While working on Forsaken Lands 2 I had a conversation with my sister, and at some point I asked the question, “Hey, who do you think deserves the next short story?”

As soon as she said “Elden” my mind got spinning, and in 12 days I had about 18,000 words on paper – enough to qualify as a novella. Mind you, I had planned to work on a short story after the novel draft was finished, but Elden’s tale was so juicy that it simply took off with my better senses, and here we are. Fortunately I’m pretty sure that I can still make my goal of a June 23rd first draft of FL2 despite my 12 day novella diversion. What’s even better is I will now be releasing a new title in the next 1-3 months, prior to the release of FL2! Check out the cover –

broken

I’ll be working up a formal blurb in the next few days. In short, it is another first-person origin story of sorts, giving you a window into Elden’s life at age sixteen. Several points about his past are revealed, including the beginning of his dangerous relationship with the Kaldari fire drug. After my beta readers give me their feedback on the draft I will make necessary changes, consult with my editing folks, and then bam – it will be out on the net. I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll do three months of Kindle Select or go straight to wider distribution. More on the intricacies of that decision to come.

I’m on break between the end of my training and the beginning of my new job, so there will be lots of writing happening in the next few weeks as well as a (much less arduous) move to a neighboring city. I’ll see about getting some blog posts out in that amount of time. Who knows… perhaps I’ll release some snippets from Broken while I’m at it. Interested? Shout out!

Preview Chapter – Forsaken Lands Book 2

Hello out there blog folk! It’s been a wild month-and-a-half or so. Despite an ever-changing schedule and an impending move (again), the work on Book 2 has been proceeding as scheduled. With 73,000 words in the Forsaken Lands sequel, I’d like to present a sample of what’s been going on so far. Slowly but surely this thing is getting finished… goal date to finish the draft: June 23rd. More blog posts to come in the next few months! Sorry for the decrease in chatter.

The scene below is from the second chapter of Forsaken Lands Book 2 and contains spoilers – you have been warned.

           Even balled up in her fur cloak with the hood drawn up, Eila had glittering green eyes and a thin little body that made all sorts of interesting shapes in a fight. She was probably younger than him – maybe 16 – but she was better with a sword and a hell of a lot better at speaking the Kaldari’s god-cursed language.

           Elden gifted the girl with one of his sly half-smiles and threw the stone right back. She laughed and said something under her breath that he couldn’t understand.

           Sigh.

           It was getting colder than he could ever remember. Seven Kaldari huddled around the center of a traditional Kaldari Chitaka, a semi-permanent, round, tent-like structure that he helped construct from animal hides about a week ago. There were sleep sacks scattered around the periphery of the structure and a blazing fire in the center, the smoke pushing cold air out through the hole in the ceiling. Even with the roaring fire and the close quarters, Elden hugged his own body tightly to keep in what warmth he could. The snow outside formed a barricade, so thick that folks could barely squeeze through to use the outdoor facilities. Fortunately the snow seemed to slow the Celet down almost as much as it slowed the Kaldari. They hadn’t seen action since the Chitaka went up.

           Though he’d spent several weeks with these people, Elden felt incredibly alone. When a Kaldari patrol cornered him outside of Nivenea on the week of The Fall, Elden had given serious thought to killing them all. He had the ability to do so, certainly, and no real moral issue with it, but part of him knew that being a loner wasn’t going to work forever. The emergence of the Celet and their mysterious weapons brought his entire world into question – he could run, but to where? And for what?

           He was nothing without a group to hide within, so it made some amount of sense to just go with them. Growing up on the Kaldari Border Elden had picked up a little of the language – mostly slurs – just enough to get along. He understood more than he could express, at least. “Yes” was the only word that seemed to matter, anyway.

           Given his poor control of the language he came off as quiet, but nobody seemed overly disturbed by his lack of conversation. Quite the contrary, they treated him as if he were some kind of ideal stoic. Unfortunately stoicism wasn’t his usual gig. He found himself craving real human interaction, without the fear of being found out.

           It might not have been worth all the isolation except that the Kaldari gave him a steady supply of the fire, which saved him from the withdrawals. The fire alone might not be enough to keep him around. As time went on he gave greater consideration to joining the infamous Nivenea’s Sword, the Children of Elseth’s resistance movement against the Celet. Elden had his first encounter with The Sword just the day before, and he couldn’t help but admire with tenactiy. More than that, he liked that he was able to understand what they were saying effortlessly.

           Gods I hate being alone in my own head.

           <That one, where did he come from again?> Eila whispered to the male, Berik, beside her.

           <I heard he was Alke,> Berik replied.

           <He’s so slow,> Eila chuckled.

           Elden stared up at the ceiling as if oblivious. She either believed that she was speaking softly enough that he wouldn’t hear, or more likely, she thought he was too dumb to understand. He had no intention of finding out which. He grabbed his bag and stood, stretching his stiff legs. Berik raised eyebrows in his direction.

           Elden jerked a thumb toward the entrance flap, <Pissing.>

           Berik nodded.

           Pausing just a moment to gather his wits, Elden pushed through the hide-flap into the biting cold of the night. Outside the Chitaka very few people stood guard; he counted four, one at each cardinal. Only their shadows were visible through the dark and falling snow, outlined by torches which seemed to be swallowed up by the forest. Ice hung heavy on the pine trees, the whiteness turned to black with the occasional sparkle of stray light. He could see no stars; when he looked up the snow stung his lashes.

           Somehow being physically alone was comforting compared to the sensation of being alone in a crowd. Hunching his shoulders, Elden trudged out to the edge of the camp where people typically went to relieve themselves. The forest was too quiet; his every movement was amplified a hundred times, yet the guards spared him only stray glances. They did not expect an attack this night.

           Once safely out of sight of the guards, Elden huddled up against a tree. He checked one way and then the other, took a long breath, and relaxed. When he raised his hand his lighter slowly levitated from his pocket, spinning free while he packed his stolen pipe. His covash was getting low, but a hit or two and he’d be able to forget enough to get to sleep.

           Plans could wait.

           He lit the pipe, careful to shield it from the wind and keep it from falling out. His supply would need to last until… well, until something. He didn’t know what. He used his mind to effortlessly place the lighter back in his pocket and took his first pull. He had to avoid using his abilities in the presence of others who might be suspicious. The freedom to move objects with his mind was absolutely freeing, a pleasure he too infrequently enjoyed.

           Movement off to his left caught his eye mid-drag, giving him pause. He hadn’t heard anyone coming up on his position, but the movement was unmistakable. When he turned to look he was met with the bear-sized frame of the Kaldari merc, a large bag slung on his back and a thick cloak drawn around him, only adding to his size. A hook was attached in place of his right hand, lost in the fight at Nivenea’s Fall. For a man so substantial he moved with the grace of a feline.

           Elden quickly concealed his pipe up his sleeve and hitched his breath, hoping that the man would pass him by. The merc halted his progression and slowly turned towards him – the feeling of the merc’s eyes on him gave Elden a start.

           “You did not see me,” the merc’s gruff voice came from beneath a faceless hood, appropriately lowered so that the guards would not hear. “Go back to the camp.”

           Elden leaned his head back against the tree, closing his eyes. He opened his mouth to formulate a reply in Kaldari, but stopped abruptly.

           The merc was speaking to him in Leyvada.

           He was inclined not to answer back in order to maintain this illusion of being a Kaldari soldier, but by the merc’s rough, staccato laughter, he had already fumbled too far. He knew. The merc grunted and kept walking, his back to Elden.

           “What the hell was that?” Elden whispered urgently.

           When the man looked over his shoulder Elden caught a glimpse of his long, black hair peaking from beneath his hood. “Your accent is very bad.”

           “You’ve known? All this time?”

           The merc’s shoulders slumped just slightly. His tone was flat. “Yes.”

           “And you didn’t think I was some kind of spy?”

           At that the merc laughed again. “Spy? If you are the spy I pity The Sword for sending you.”

           Elden couldn’t help but feel taken aback by the comment. He wasn’t a spy, but he didn’t think he would be so bad if he was. The other Kaldari accepted him, and showed no inkling of suspicion. To be identified by one man out of dozens was hardly something to scoff at.

           The merc began walking again, and something very stupid and very deep inside Elden’s psyche cause him to follow, even as he was telling himself, Leave this guy alone, idiot. He’s dangerous. He supposed that it was his power that got him into these situations. His whole life he’d struggled to impose deterrents such as fear into his every day actions, but doing so was difficult when he’d never met a person that he couldn’t defeat in a fight… at least in theory.

           “Do not follow me,” the merc said patiently.

           “You’re not giving me an abundance of options. I’m not done with you,” Elden proceeded, reckless with the need for change. “I want out of here, and it looks like that’s where you’re headed.”

           The merc didn’t turn around or stop. “And you think this is what I am doing, getting ‘out,’ as you say?”

           “You’re leaving the camp alone in the middle of the night, and word is your loyalties aren’t proven. Nobody trusts you.”

           “They let me live with them, they cared for my wounds. You think they do this for a man they do not trust?”

           “Look man, I don’t care why they let you in, I just want to follow you until I find someplace else to hide for a while. I don’t belong here.”

           When the merc swung around to glare at him, Elden instinctively ducked and raised his energy, ready for a fight. To his surprise the bear-man did not hit him. The shadowed face studied him a moment, and Elden could feel his hairs standing on end.

           “I can just go ba-” Elden began.

           “Your name is Elden.”

           Confused, Elden crossed his arms, in part for warmth and in part as a defensive posture. “And your name is…” he searched for it in the depths of his memory. “Garren.”

           “You are from Vail.”

           Elden physically and mentally withdrew, wary of Garren’s knowledge. He hadn’t told anyone where he’d come from, that much he was sure of. “Who says?”

           Silence.

           “If you wish to find the other Deldri then you follow me. If you do not wish it, you do not follow.” The statement was final. Garren turned away yet again and set off into the woods.

           “How do you know?” Elden called after him at the loudest volume he imagined to be safe.

           No answer. The mysterious merc man just kept walking, disappearing into the darkness, the snow, and the trees. Elden hesitated another beat – he was faced with one of his recurring life decisions, to go or to stay, to follow on to an uncertain future or wallow in the disappointing reality of his present. He supposed that he would continue making these decisions forever until eventually he found the decision which led to his happiness or he died, whichever came first. He was relatively certain that this was not one of those happiness-making choices.

           Settling his bag squarely over his shoulders, Elden followed his new-found traveling partner into a future unknown.

 © 2014 Sydney M. Cooper – No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

“Fathers and Sons” Short Story FREE in all E-Book Formats

I wrote Fathers and Sons for several reasons. First, I love Garren as a character in ways you might not expect while reading Tragedy. He is a deep-thinking, kind, independent person who, despite his hardened exterior, has a love for his friends and family which may be unmatched. He is an incredible person with an incredibly tragic story, and I wanted to find a way to show readers the man behind the tough mask.
On a more practical level, I wanted to see how the publishing process works and offer a low-risk or no-risk way to sample my work. I wanted to upload it for free from the start, but hadn’t figured out the best way to do that at the time. While it is not yet free on Amazon (still need to get them to pricematch it), it is 100% free to read across all platforms on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and the iBookstore. If you’re at all interested, please check it out!
Garren has spent many years building his home in the Kaldari border town of Plen. A satisfied husband and father, he is known as one of the best scouts in all the provinces despite his identity as a half-Kaldari bastard. Although he tries to ignore the war brewing between the Kaldari and the Children of Elseth in the north, one man’s mistake brings that war to his doorstep and changes his life forever.This short story told from Garren’s point of view is a prequel to Sydney M. Cooper’s novel, “Forsaken Lands Book 1: Tragedy.”

Reach Out and Touch… Book

Okay, I will admit that Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode has been stuck in my head ever since I got my hands on the physical proof. No, it’s not quite appropriate, but that’s just how it is.

Forsaken Lands: Tragedy is now officially available both in ebook and print form. Currently the printed edition is only available through my Createspace E-Store, but it will also be available on Amazon within the next week (supposedly!). The price for the printed edition is $9.99, and if you buy it through Amazon, you will be able to download the ebook version for free.

Pretty cool, if I do say so myself. It is a huge weight off my shoulders to be completely done with Tragedy. I am sure someone, somewhere will find some kind of typographical/grammatical error to pick at in the future… and that’s okay. Nothing is ever perfect, including books printed by the big publishers. The big deal is that it is done, and I do not have to read it for a good long while.

I’ve been getting in a few hundred words here and there for Book 2 between job interviews this month (non-writing jobs, of course). I am very happy to be making some real headway on the story, and can’t wait until next week when I will have plenty of time to devote to it. Here’s a little taste, in case you weren’t already as excited as I am. 😉 *potential spoilers ahead*

“If this is a joke you should know that you’re about to walk away with a black eye. It’s not funny,” said Adria.

“No joke. As Adreth said, this isn’t a government and it’s certainly not a democracy. He’ll do what he pleases, and he thinks this is a good idea.” Les pulled the cig from his lips to steal a swig from Adria’s drink and coughed. “Skies above I hate ale.”

Adria snatched the mug out of his hands and leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And he made this decision tonight?”

“Skies no, he made the deal a while ago. She’s on her way here tonight.”

“Here?” Adria seethed. She was on her feet without meaning to be, ready to turn and walk up the stairs to strangle her goddamned twin.

Les grabbed her by the arm as tight as he could manage. “Rendezvous was in Saphena. The detail left to pick her up an hour ago. They’ll be here any minute.”

She wrenched out of his hold easily. As much as Les had grown as a fighter, she was still a fair twice as strong as him. The man couldn’t easily make up for a lifetime of privilege. “I don’t need very long, trust me.”

I’ll be checking in before the holidays, I’m sure. Stay safe out there in the meantime!

The Novel Playlist – ‘Cause I’m Silly Like That

I’ve seen this done on several other blogs, and I honestly find it quite amusing most of the time. I rarely encounter author playlists with music I like, but there is something curious about seeing what other writers listen to and what inspires them. Also, I needed to post something – preferably something quick and easy – so here we are.

I’m a child of the 90’s, therefore my music choices (mostly late-90’s and early 2000’s) reflect that. I’m also a sucker for a lot of what some people would call low-grade pop/rock that came out of that time (think Nickelback rather than Britney Spears). You might laugh at what inspired the various characters/scenes in Book 1, but in my defense, 90% of the novel was written to the backdrop of Lindsey Stirling who is anything but low-grade. That girl is awesome. So, without further adieu… the playlist.

Teveres:

  • Halfway Gone – Lifehouse
  • Am I Ever Gonna Find Out – Lifehouse
  • It’s Been a While – Staind
  • You Found Me – The Fray
  • Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
  • How You Remind Me – Nickelback
  • Going Down in Flames – 3 Doors Down
  • Ticket to Heaven – 3 Doors Down
  • My Own Prison – Creed
  • Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
  • Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  • So I Need You – 3 Doors Down

Aia:

  • I’m With You – Avril Lavigne
  • Nobody’s Home – Avril Lavigne
  • Quasimodo – Lifehouse
  • Name – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Acoustic #3 – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Broadway – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Here is Gone – Goo Goo Dolls
  • You Owe Me Nothing in Return – Alanis Morisette
  • Slania’s Song – Eluveitie
  • How To Save a Life – The Fray
  • Prince – Vanessa Carlton
  • Pieces of You – Jewel
  • Numb – Pink
  • Hemorrhage – Fuel

Les:

  • Far Away – Nickelback
  • I’m Still Here – John Rzeznik
  • Syndicate – The Fray
  • Wasted and Ready – Ben Kweller
  • Closing Time – Semisonic
  • Think Twice – Eve 6

Garren:

  • Freedom Fighter – Creed
  • Weathered – Creed
  • Bullets – Creed
  • Drive – Incubus

Yep, I’m a ‘cheap date,’ as they say. 😉

In other news, Tragedy has done exceptionally well on “free” days, and was #9 on the historical fiction free amazon bestseller list during the first promotion! It’s quite possibly the longest, most specific distinction in the book world, but hey, I’ll take what I can get at this point. I’m doing another free day on 10/26, so if you’d like to check it out and haven’t yet, do so! If you found it intriguing at all, PLEASE write a review. Reviews are lifeblood for a self-published gal like myself.

Suffering is in the works. It’s slow, and a little painful, but it’s happening. There’s a whole lot going on in Book 2 which gets real complicated real fast, and I’m relying pretty heavily on my historical consultant (aka “the husband”) for direction. Think French Resistance – and that’s all I have to say about that. Will there be a short story coming your way soon?

Will Les be the subject of that potential short story?

Well, that’s up to you folks. If the interest is there, it will come. Shout out.