“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.”

Obligatory Year-in-Review Post

I hope that all of you made it through the holidays intact and are had a safe, happy new year. I’ve been busy the couple weeks with family and last-minute vacations before work begins again. That work thing just will not go away.

It’s been a very interesting year, as you may have noticed. I’ve been job searching all over the country in my non-writing life, published both Tragedy and Fathers and Sons, and have already started working on the sequel to Tragedy. Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine, and while I haven’t been as wildly successful as some other authors, it’s enough that I’m happy to continue. I’ve met the goal of distributing my work to people I don’t know, and fortunately I’ve gotten some good responses.

It’s not much, but it’s enough for me.

The e-publishing game is tougher than many people will make it out to be. With so many borderline publications out there in the indie author world, very few readers specifically seek out indie writers – and of course, most indie writers to not have spare cash to sink into advertising. We get most of our traction through blogs, social networks, offering free stuff, and just generally trying to prove that we’re good enough to warrant the “risk” of a few bucks. Me, I don’t have a vast network of people to automatically like/share/endorse my work, so I’m making slow, gradual gains by virtue of the work itself. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme in any sense of the word, and it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re thinking about going the indie route.

Despite the drawbacks, I couldn’t be happier that I live in a time when this method of delivery is available. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have kept submitting to publishers, suffering rejections, and maybe never published anything at all. It may be arrogance on my part to assume that readers should look at my stuff despite a lack of interest from traditional publishers, but honestly, I just want the subject matter out there. I’m not the best writer to grace the earth, but I do think I can run up against some of the traditionally published authors on the shelves. My stories are stories worth telling, at least to me, and apparently to some other people in the world, too. Dan Carlin posted a pretty nice video to his homepage about “new media” and how it gives a voice to people who never had a way to connect with an audience before – he speaks from the perspective of a podcaster, but I think it’s relevant for indie authors as well. We are one part of the new media revolution, relatively uncensored by the former great gatekeepers (i.e., publishers). It is a great time to be a creative person.

What’s the point of this post? I suppose it doesn’t have much of one. It’s not very long for a year-in-review post, but I suppose it will have to count. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions (seeing as anything labeled “new year’s” is swiftly forgotten about within the first two weeks of January), but I do have some general goals. As I move on to making some actual money here in the future, I would like to endeavor to buy more things from local or independent producers, be it food, music, jewelry, or books. There are incredibly talented people all over the place with wonderful gifts to share – I think that supporting them with whatever extra dollars I have is simply good karma.

I’ll keep you all updated going forward. I’m 25,500 words into Suffering and cannot wait to get through this first draft. Have an absolutely wonderful 2014, readers and writers! I’ll leave you with a little taste of what I’ve been working on lately.

    “I told him not to do it.” Les shook his head, “I told him that she’s a snake, and he won’t listen.”
“She who?”
“Drei,” he rasped.
The sound of the name instantly drew Adria’s brow together. Drei was the Commander of the Kaldari Coalition of Tribes, a woman who threatened to kill as many people as were necessary to “take back” Elseth’s Lands. A warrior race from the south, the Kaldari lived brutal lives which were reflected in their religion and their treatment of others.
“If this is a joke you should know that you’re about to walk away with a black eye. It’s not funny.”
“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 tightly. “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.”
When she looked up she was too late. Adreth was on the catwalk overlooking the hall, staring down at her. His large, callused hands were gripping the banister, and did not move when she made a direct and deliberate line up the stairs to him. Adreth’s expression remained tight and strong, the way it always was when he had made up his mind. Adria fisted both hands by her sides when she approached. Les sat and watched apprehensively, but knew better than to follow.
“We need to talk alone,” she said as calmly as she could muster.
“Not the time, Adria,” Adreth replied.
“I don’t think you catch my meaning. We need to talk alone or I’m going to bring your business out real public.”
“You spoke with Les.”
“Damn right I did. He thinks you’re half cracked, and so do I.”
He spoke slowly, gaze fixed on the men and women socializing in the hall below. “You of all people have to know how hard it was for me to make this call. I didn’t make it lightly. We’re losing this war, Adria. We will never be able to defeat the Celet with this strategy.”
“You told me that if we found the engineers-”
“It’s more than firepower.” This time he turned to look at her, fierce brown eyes stone cold, surrounded by his bold features. They had similar faces, Adria and Adreth, but Adreth always had an intangible edge in him that Adria could never match. “We don’t have enough trained men and women to keep this going. Drei’s people are harder than us. They’ve lived like no one in Elseth’s Land could imagine, and because of that they have something we don’t.”
“And what is that?”
“The dedication to sacrifice everything for what they want.”

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.

A little riff – rambling, reading and editing

I’ve been away from the keyboard for a little over a week now. This post may be a little rambly, but I’ll just have to ask you for a pass on that one (after all, the description at the top of this blog does specify “ramblings” as part of the content). Seattle has taken me on a wild ride between working and exploring this fabulous city. There hasn’t been a lot of time for writing, though I have been reading a lot – and if you ask any author worth their salt, they’ll tell you that reading is as important, if not more so, that actually putting words on a page.

The book I’ve been reading is by my favorite author, Anne Bishop. Now, I will say that her books are not for everyone; I totally get why a person wouldn’t want to read The Black Jewels Trilogy, a story which was dark and explicit enough that the first time I opened it I considered throwing it away. I like reading the books of authors who exemplify in their work what I hope to show off in mine, and Anne does an amazing job (in my humble opinion) at writing edgy, lovable characters. She has certainly done that with her latest novel – the one I’m waist deep in at the moment – Written in Red. If you like urban fantasy with a strong character focus, I highly recommend that you check it out. I don’t know how good it will be for your brain, but I certainly think it’s been good for mine! I might post a more extensive review when I finish it, who knows.

While I haven’t made a whole lot of writing progress lately, what I have been doing consists of somewhat tedious content and cleanup editing. Unfortunately for me, editing is this trance-like state of ruthless abandon requiring exquisite concentration… and I’ve had approximately none of that since I’ve been displaced from my home, living out of a suitcase in an alien city.  Nonetheless, slow, painstaking progress has been made. If you’d like to take a look at things I’ve been working on, I’d recommend clicking on over to Teveres’s Intro – the first half of Tragedy’s prologue up on createspace.

I think that’s about it from me, folks, so I’ll leave you with a question: which authors have inspired you, and why?

Have a great week!

Self-Promotion: The Hardest Part

Before I get into my ‘click here, check this out’ portion of the post, I would like to give you a token of my appreciation. Several of you have been liking these blog posts and following along – it’s not much, but it’s a start, and I appreciate each one of you. For those who are interested I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Elden, one of the lesser but still very important characters from Tragedy. Enjoy the sneak peak!

    Elden leaned his weight against the newly-stained wooden banister, looking out over the bar scene below. He swirled the tincture of fire in his glass as he watched from his perch. The establishment, while not necessarily new, was well-kept and recently repainted. Smoke and soft chatter wafted up to his quiet indoor balcony, keeping him company like an old friend. A young woman played a pleasant song her violin against the far wall, just beyond his view. Two bartenders worked in tandem behind the L-shaped bar, a handful of young people gathered around ordering drinks and talking. The tall bar tables were abandoned at the periphery – everyone wanted to be close to everyone else, except him. Solitude suited him.

     Taking a drag from the minty Covash smoke between his lips, he smiled to himself. While most of the dozen-or-so people in the room were having a good time, there was discord off to the corner of that bar between the slender, fair-haired Willow and her painfully thin summer-colored boyfriend, Douglass. Willow was on the offense again, her tree twig finger pointed squarely at Douglass’s chest while Douglass hand his hands open, his whole body curved away from her. Elden could read the cluelessness plain on Douglass’s face.

    It would have been easier to feel bad for the sap if he wasn’t the thousandth man in Vail to get tangled up with Willow. Elden made it with her for a solid week before Willow’s malicious nature drove him away. It was all well enough – the sex was good, and he only expected to get a night or two out of it at the maximum. He considered the experience overall as a win.

    Douglass, on the other hand, was never the brightest kid in Vail. He had an undying belief in one day finding a woman and having a family, even as he destroyed his body with covash and lylic. He was the last of the romantics.

    In the year since he arrived in Vail Elden had made many acquaintances, but no real friends. To even think that he might someday find a person to settle down with was preposterous. He had yet to meet a man or woman who could accept the fluid nature of his existence. Six years ago at the age of 16 he left his home in the border town of Chall to travel the world. In that time he had lived in at least a dozen different places. Each time he found a place to stay, something seemed to happen. He would save someone falling off a roof, or he would shatter the entire bar’s stock of glassware, and suddenly wherever he was living lost its hospitable charm. Surviving an entire year in Vail without incident was nothing short of miraculous.

    Elden glanced about his dark little corner, a six-foot-long space with two broken down tables and sets of chairs. Only card-players ever came up to the balcony, and even then only on third nights. No one ever bothered him when he took over the space. He tossed back the rest of his drink, distantly missing the way it used to burn his throat. Too many years of drinking the swill numbed him to the sensation. Even the energizing buzz from the tincture’s herbs barely touched him anymore; they only served to keep him sane.

    Night air blew through as the front door opened below him. At the base of the staircase to his dark, abandoned balcony was the doorway to the outside, and in the doorway stood an intriguing young woman. Her auburn hair was spun back in a bun to reveal wide cheekbones. Underneath her cloak she was dressed in the work clothes of a healer, or perhaps an engineer – he could never tell the two apart. He could visualize her curves, the kind he hadn’t ever seen on one of the local girls. She had to be either a traveler or new to the town.

    He almost yelped when she looked up at him like she could hear him thinking. Her eyes were striking – the color of new spring lilacs, with a sheen of intelligence. She screwed up her lips to one side of her face thoughtfully. As quickly as she commanded his attention she suddenly broke from it, approaching the bar to place her order.

    She maintained a forcefield-like barrier between herself and the others around her. No one came close or spoke to her. She watched them, just as he watched them. She sat there a few minutes examining the others around her before her drink arrived and she turned her attention back on him.

    His curiosity sufficiently piqued, Elden took one last puff from his light before he gripped the edge of the banister and hopped over it to the stairs below. He was not a large man, standing 5’11” with the physique of someone who clearly spent more coin on tincture than bread. His boots landed softly on the wood, calling for glances from only a handful of patrons who quickly shrugged it off. They expected such things of him anymore. Vail was getting too comfortable with his presence.

    The girl kept sidelong eyes on him, a mug of ale in her hand. Her intensity was almost a deterrent, the way she analyzed him without a word. He put on his best lazy, alluring half-grin, to make it look like he didn’t notice. Men and women instinctively moved away when he walked up beside her. It was for best, for certain; if they didn’t move, he would have had to push them. No one enjoyed that.

    Domini, the large, black-haired bartender at that side of the bar gave Elden a casual wave.

    “Need anything E?” Domini’s booming voice asked.

    Elden shook his head, strands of slightly-too-long golden brown hair brushing over his eyes. “Good here Dom.”

    The girl was amused even by his brief exchange with the bartender. She raised one eyebrow, sipping her ale delicately like she might sip tea. “Can I help you with something, then?” she asked. In her voice he could hear the hint of an accent, one he’d heard from people raised outside the cities. A country girl.

    “Might be,” said Elden. He offered a hand to her, which she shook with a light touch, her pale skin contrasting against his olive-tan hands. “You must not be from here.”

    “I’m from Alta,” she said smoothly, withdrawing the hand. With her accent it was unlikely she was from Alta, a sizable city on the Kaldari border, but it was no matter. “Came here for work.”

    “Oh yeah? What sorta work?”

    “Not the kind you’re looking for,” she said with a laugh.

    Feigning insult, Elden guffawed. “Have I said something unwelcome? I don’t think so.”

    “No, you haven’t said anything of that sort.”

    The way she responded was curious, like someone who was lying by omission. If he were looking for something serious, he would have walked away immediately. He could see that she was trouble on legs. It didn’t stop him with Willow, either.

    “You’re not in here looking to make friends, are you?” he challenged her.

    “Neither are you,” she used a grating matter-of-fact tone, “I’m an alchemist, since you really want to know.”

    “So you’re here to fix the town.”

    “Town would have to want fixing.” She look him up and down critically. “So would you.”

    “Nothing broken here, hon.” He gestured with flourish, “I’m the most put-together guy you’ll find in Vail, that’s a fact.”

    “Oh, no doubt,” She laughed at a private joke. “Where are you from?”

    “Nivenea,” he lied.

    “I spent a while there,” she said. “Nice place. Why’d you leave?”

    “That many gifted people in one place makes me nervous.” Half-truth, this time. He was gifted himself, but not in any way that people respected. His parents were gifted, too, but like most of the divinely gifted, they had a narrow definition for who did and did not fit in their world view. Elden was never able to meet that standard.

    “So what do you do here?”

    Grow covash and piss on the law. “Handy man. I do whatever people need.”

    A subtly as he could manage, he used his mind’s eye to travel the outline of her body. He pulled her towards him only by a half centimeter, gently. It was something he had done a hundred times before on other potential partners; usually the slight decrease in distance between them encouraged discussion.

    She was the first person to ever react to it directly. She jerked, pushing further away from him. His mind’s feather-touch disintegrated against any amount of her strength. The sizzle of anger was in her eyes when she looked at him.

    She couldn’t know it was him, could she? No one else ever had. Coincidence, maybe. Either way, his interest evaporated. He was hunting for deer; she was a panther.

    “Well, it’s been lovely, but I have places to be,” he winked, “Handy work and all that.”

    Before he could turn away she grabbed his wrist, her fingers locked tightly against his skin. She narrowed her eyes. “What’s your name?”

    “Elden,” he blurted unintentionally, and regretted it. Something told him that he didn’t want her to know his real name. “What’s yours?”

    “Delia.” She abruptly let go.

    An awkward pause grew between them. He didn’t know what to do with his hands or his face. After several long seconds he finally withdrew from her. He saluted Dom casually on his way to the door, walking slowly even while he wanted to bolt.

    I know what you are, an unwelcome voice intruded on his thoughts. It sounded like Delia’s voice, but she had not spoken. He physically shook himself all over to clear his brain, bewildered. He’d had hallucinations before, but rarely were they so clear.

   Maybe he needed to slow it down after all. Folks said that years of tincture could cause strange reactions in people, and he was coming up on 4 years of a bad habit. He banged the bar door open, letting the icy air filled his lungs. He didn’t look back.

Now to the shameless plug part of this post. 😉 I don’t like always doing straight-up promotion posts (and I hope that I haven’t been boring you with too many of those), but I feel like it’s worth noting that my short story Fathers and Sons has been re-uploaded with a chapter from Forsaken Lands attached to the end. If you haven’t already picked it up, it’s only $0.99 on Amazon. If you like it, please review!

On the novel front, I’ve been making some headway on Forsaken Lands 2 as well as doing more cleanup editing on Tragedy with the help of my husband. I will be uploading it to Amazon as soon as the cleanup and the cover are finished. Although I will be out of town on a job next month, I will continue my work on the editing and try to get in a blog post or two. It is my sincere hope that I can get the novel out by the end of September (if not earlier).

To those following and liking this blog, I thank you for listening. Please chime in if you want to hear more or less of what I’ve been talking about. The feminism post was pretty popular, so I might do another post like that in the near future.

Peace and long life, friends.