Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Category: Books (Page 1 of 4)

The Beautiful Pains of Love

“Adorned In White” – Tap image for more information.


Today on SCRAWLS, I chose to highlight a section of writing about love—specifically the love between two couples in the Sylvan Cycle book series. The love forged between these couples has been hard-won thus far, and I doubt it will get any easier as the series progresses. Katja and Felan have many obstacles to overcome including racial and cultural differences. Likewise, Lauraisha and Daya’lyn must also overcome differences in race, culture, and age. What makes me proudest in writing these characters is the fact that they are each willing to commit themselves to one another even though their lives and circumstances offer no real security.

In a world that seems to be teetering more and more on the edge of uncertainty, I think we all can use a little more faith in those we love and who love us. I would never have made it this far without the committed support of my loved ones. Likewise, I doubt those I love would have gotten as far without my help in return.

No matter how big they are, shared burdens are always easier to bear just as shared joys are always richer to celebrate.

Through the shared shouldering of our joy and our pain, my husband and I are a constant encouragement to one another. My husband and I are not perfect, but we are perfect for each other. I wanted a part of our love and faithfulness toward one another to be on display through these characters.

~

Katja shook her head. “No, how to spend eternity is the choice of every being. Every being ever confronted by a vampire must make the choice to either exist in a cursed half-life or to die pure and free.” Katja wiped a paw across her grimy, tear-streaked face. “And I must live with the fact that when a vampire’s fangs found my neck, I nearly chose to be cursed.”

Manasa look at her aghast. “What stopped you?”

“In the last moment of Turning, I begged the Creator to save me and he sent his dragon to help heal me. Verdagon is the reason that I am still alive, and although I may be scarred, I am yet Unturned.” Katja stared off into the distance. “Well, the dragon and the werewolf, of course.”

“Felan?”

She nodded.

“What did Felan do?”

“I heard his plea in my mind even as Daeryn’s shadow consumed it. Felan begged me to come back to him. To this day, I don’t know if I imagined it or if he really said it. Felan was gravely injured at the time.”

Manasa looked thoughtful at that. “You truly love him don’t you?”

“I do. It’s just I have no idea how I would be a proper mate to him.”

“Because of the difference in your races?”

Katja bowed her head and sighed. “Our races and our cultures. I have nothing to offer his clan in the way of strength, power, riches, or anything else. I am an orphan and I am a werecat. If Felan and I became lifemates, I could give him no offspring who would be able to carry on the family line and lineage. Instead they would be sterile half-breeds—outcasts all the days of their lives.”

Manasa nodded. “Lauraisha would face many of the same consequences if she married Daya’lyn.”

“Then would you allow the marriage?”

She frowned. “I am not nearly as dogmatic about racial purity as my late husband was. That being said, such a mixed marriage would be very difficult. If their union proved more of a benefit to each of them rather than a detriment, then, yes, I would give them my blessing. I think they are far stronger together than they are separate, but my opinion shouldn’t be the one weighed most heavily in this situation. The question that they must answer—and that you and Felan must answer for yourselves—is whether or not love is worth risking your personal safety and security. If it is, what are you willing to give up to remain together?”

Katja started to speak and then stopped when Manasa shook her head. “I don’t want or need an answer from you. This is a question that you must settle for yourself.”

Katja nodded and then stopped to look at the older female. “What would you do if you were in my situation?”

Manasa smiled sadly. “I married for love a long time ago and it cost me everything. The second time I married for safety and security, and instead I gained neither. Do not look to me for an example of love, my experience can offer you only a meager shadow of what love should be.”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“Look Deep Into the Water…”

“Windswept Beauty” – Tap image for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off with Katja and Queen Manasa in the Wraith Realm and finally able to use the Scrying Pools. What secrets will these strange pools hold?

~

“My sisters,” Damya said as the group watched the firesprites flit from leaf to leaf among the trees—touching each one with a lit hand.

“What are they doing?” Katja asked.

“They are nourishing the trees,” the firesprite said. “Here in my realm, fire acts a little differently than it does in yours. In the Erde Realm, fire always destroys, but the ashes that come from it are still good for the land. However, in this realm, fire can heal and nurture as well as destroy. At least it heals and nurtures the Pyrekin and the Erdeken wraiths. The Drosskin are, of course, an entirely different matter, which is why the fiery river that is Edgewater causes such harm to them. Come…”

Damya led them across a narrow path of flat, round stones which meandered between the ponds toward the center-most pool.

“Katja, Manasa, I need both of you to join hands and minds, and then look deep into the water,” Damya instructed. “When you can no longer see the bottom of the pool, call out Caleb’s name.”

They did as instructed. At first, all Katja could see was the fine, white sand beneath the clear blue waves. Then a single spark of multi-hued light illuminated the pool’s depths and widened into a round ring that reminded her of the mage rings that she and her packmates had trained inside while they were pupils at the Mage Citadel on the Isle of Summons. Within the depths of the ring, she saw another world—hers—waft into view.

The Erde Realm was dark compared to the Wraith Realm now surrounding her. It was night there and the whole of the Sylvan Continent was blanketed in slumbering shadow. Despite the darkness, she could see the whole continent stretched out from the jagged cliffs around Castle Summersted in Tyglesea to the Suuthe and Ten Fang Marshes in the South to the Este’lyn Forest and Hippopan Plains far to the east of the Nyghe sol Dyvesé Mountains. The height was dizzying and she suddenly felt like she was riding on the dragon Verdagon’s great back as they soared high above the tallest mountains.

“Call to him,” the firesprite reminded her.

Katja shook herself and together she and Manasa spoke in unison. “Caleb, hear us!”

The waters rippled and the females found themselves falling through space and time at a speed that Katja could barely fathom. Their shared vision surged toward a small, white mountain nestled in the valley of much larger mountains near the Reithrgar Pass. As much as it looked like a mountain, the structure was actually a stone fortress that had been crafted by magic and masonry to look like the peaks surrounding it. As she was contemplating this, Katja’s awareness hurtled through the fortress’s roof and she and Manasa found themselves staring at the red-carpeted room where the werecat had first discovered the Ott vre Caerwyn—the youngest of the vampires’ three bloodstone mirrors. It was disconcerting for Katja to view the room while looking out through the mirror. It felt almost as if she and Manasa were trapped inside it.

“Caleb?” She called again as the mirror’s pulsing light lit the room in eerie hues.

The door to the room opened and Katja found herself staring at a dark-gray-skinned being who walked upright on her hind legs like a human, but resembled a scorpion far more than she did any other creature. The werecat wraithwalker cocked her head to one side. “Aria?”

“Katja?” The girtab stared at the mirror in disbelief.

“Aria, we must speak to Caleb immediately.”

“Katja, I can see you, but I cannot hear you. Speak louder!”

“I need to speak with Caleb! It is urgent!”

Arya just shook her head. “I still cannot understand what you are saying! If you can hear me, wait there and let me find Caleb! He will know what to do!”

Katja nodded in relief as the girtab disappeared beyond the lacquered, double doors in search of Daya’lyn’s father. As Katja waited for her to return, the wraithwalker shifted her gaze away from the pool and once more surveyed the strange wood around her. It was then that a strange scent like burning sulfur wafted into her nose. The stench filled her with the deepest loathing, and she growled in spite of herself as crimson shapes clawed at the edges of her vision.

“What’s wrong,” Damya asked. When her gaze followed the werecat’s, Damya’s eyes widened in panic. “They’ve broken through,” she said. “Dear Creator, keep us! The Drosskin have broken through the enchantments! Sisters, to me!”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up where we left off next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“You Will Need a Guide if You Are to Survive This Night…”

“A Squirrel’s Gaze” – Tap image for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off last week with Katja and Queen Manasa trying to contact Master Caleb through the Ott vre Caerwyn mirror and its shards. In today’s reading, Katja and Manasa make it to the Wraith Realm to seek out the Scrying Pools that share a magical connection to the mirror, but this enchanted realm may prove a far more dangerous destination than they ever expected.

~

A twinkle of silver lit the room, and then a small, silver tree grew out of the offering basin at the altar’s center. Its entwined trunks untwisted to form a translucent oval and the sylph Cyrena greeted them from within its frame. “Creator keep you, my madams. Queen Manasa, I know that you both seek a way to contact the Reformed Mirror and its keeper. The shards alone will not give you enough strength as you have likely guessed. The power you seek is in the Wraith Realm itself, but finding it is more dangerous than you know. You will need a guide if the pair of you are to survive this night,” she said.

“I will be that guide,” Damya said as she wafted out of the center of the Sapphire Keystone hanging from the werecat’s neck.

Cyrena nodded. “You will need the blood mirror shards with you. Keep their necklaces fastened and touch the altar with their tips.”

Obediently, the females stood on side of the altar, and then bowed to touch the spearheads against the altar’s offering basin as Cyrena indicated. With a flash of crimson and silver, all three beings stretched through the ethereal tree’s oval and then appeared in a place as different from the dank dungeon as daylight is to darkness. Grasses eddied and flowed like the waves of a great ocean around them—each curving leaf infused with green hues far richer and varied than any Katja had ever seen in her own world. The wraithwalker smiled at the breathtaking beauty of the Wraith Realm now around her, but her joy evaporated when she saw what lay just beyond the vibrant green.

The great boundary river of Edgewater snaked its way along the edge of the grasslands—a contrast to their beauty in every way. As ugly and deadly as it was, Katja knew that the river’s boiling black eddies were the only barrier keeping the inhabitants of the ruined land beyond the river’s shores from infecting the perfect land her dead family members now called home with their pestilence.

Except now the river’s winding length could no longer hold back the danger. Three new sandy breaches had now bridged the river and encroached into the pristine meadow—spreading their sickness into the yellowing grasses at Edgewater’s banks. Katja’s ears lay flat against her head and she hissed when she saw them.

“Be on your guard,” Damya said. “Dangers now abound in this land.”

A loud screech met them then, and Katja and Manasa both turned to see a gnarled, black creature flying toward them on tattered membrane wings.

“Get down!” the firesprite screamed as twin fireballs erupted in her tiny, blue hands. She launched both of them at the creature, who dodged the first but not the second. With a screech of pain and anger, it veered away from the small group and flapped back toward the river where more of its fellows readied their attack.

“Damya!”

“We are here, Kumos!” she screamed.

“Make your way to us! Hurry!” the werecat wraith yelled.

That was all of the encouragement that Katja needed. Grabbing Manasa by the hand, the werecat wraithwalker scrambled through the high grass toward her dead brother and his fellow wraiths.

“Lytzsibba, you are not dead, but you may very well die while you are here. What possessed you to return here?” Kumos said as he hugged his younger sister.

Before Katja could answer, Queen Manasa spoke. “Forgive me, my sir, but I am the reason we are here. Katja and I combined our wraithwalking and dreamdrifting talents tonight to dreamwalk between the Realms of Reality. Since time and space have different values here, going through the Wraith Realm was the only way that I could hope to traverse the distance of the Sylvan Continent to contact Master Caleb. We are in dire need of his aid in finding the Keystones that are still hidden across the continent. Without them, we cannot hope to destroy the deadwalkers…”

As Manasa was speaking, a human youth stepped forward from the gathered wraiths and Katja’s ears drooped when she saw him.

“Mother?” Sandor asked in a voice shrill with surprise and confusion.

“Sandrie!” Manasa ran to embrace him.

The last time Katja and Manasa had seen Prince Sandor had been when Daeryn had held him hostage while trying to bargain for three of the Keystones. When Lauraisha refused to exchange the Keystones for her brother’s life, the vampire bit open his neck and left him to die in front of her. Now Katja and Lauraisha shared a common grief for dead siblings just as they shared everything else.

“Mother, are you dead now too? Did Daeryn kill you as well?”

The hands that held him began to shake. “No, son. I am alive. We are both alive, Katja and I…”
“Kumos,” Katja said, interrupting her, “it is urgent that we contact Caleb. How do we do that here?”

He shook his head. “The only way I know of is to use the Scrying Pools at Edgewater’s Bend, but it is nearly overrun with Drosskin now. Since you last walked in the Wraith Realm, sibba, four new breaches have opened up along the rivers’ banks. Our enemies are massing for a full-scale invasion of the Sacred Grasslands. If they succeed in overtaking this place, it will cut off our communication to you through the Tyglesean Wraithwalking Altar.”

“Still we have to try. Can you take us to the Scrying Pools?” Katja asked.

Again Kumos shook his lion-like head. “We cannot abandon this post. If we do and the enemy attacks, it will sever communication through the Tyglesean Wraithwalking Altar, and your souls will be trapped here for eternity.”

Katja shuddered. “Faht’s warning…”

“Yes, our father warned you not to come here, but you did not listen. Now we are all in danger.”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up with more of this scene next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“What is this place?”

A bumble bee buzzes among the myriad spring blooms of wildflowers… (Tap image to learn more.)

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off last week with Katja and Queen Manasa trying to contact Master Caleb using the Ott vre Caerwyn mirror’s magic shards. A good bit of mystery and history awaits them as they search. Let’s see what happens.

~

“It is as I’ve feared; I cannot use the mirror shards alone,” Manasa said in answer to the wraithwalker’s thought. “Come Katja. Come dreamwalk with me between the folds of reality tonight. Let us see if your strength can be the difference between victory and defeat.”

Katja nodded and followed the queen along the shoreline beside the rolling sea until the pair came to the entrance of a small cave hidden in a cleft of the cliff. Without a word, Katja followed the queen into the stony darkness—the wan blue glow from Damya’s sapphire necklace lighting their path. Together they threaded their way into the heart of the cliff—the crashing waves of the sea becoming less and less thunderous with each step.

The narrow tunnel coiled around itself like the body of a huge basal snake, but Manasa followed its winding course with unerring certainty. The tunnel widened out into a stone gallery complete with carved figures and paintings adorning its walls.

“What is this place?” Katja asked as they rounded a corner and she found herself staring at the half-revealed carving of a griffin and a dryad locked in battle with a gargoyle. The griffin looked so much like King Canuche that it made the werecat stop in surprise.

“Freedom,” Manasa said as she rubbed a gentle hand over the chiseled wall. “This place began as a simple cave, which my father, King Aedus, expanded into a family chapel during the first decade of his reign. You’ll see many scenes from the Second War of Ages carved into the walls here since my father was an avid scholar of that period. He even knew several mages who had survived the war and had gone on to help rebuild the Sylvan Continent after that war and after the subsequent Clan Wars.”

The Tyglesean Queen walked on and Katja followed—still looking at Canuche’s visage. The pair walked on as the tunnel narrowed again and then gave way to a jagged tunnel of rock that looked as if it had been no different from the cliff.

Katja touched the splintered stone and frowned at its familiarity. “Are we close to the dungeons?”

Manasa nodded. “This tunnel system served a dual purpose. It was both a private way for my family to get to the chapel and an escape route to use should we ever need to flee the castle. My family never was able to flee through here during the Tyglesean Uprisings, but I did. My valet Arlis and I managed to make it through the tunnel and to our horses before any beings realized we were gone. In that way, my father’s piety saved my life. Kaylor walled all of this off and turned the chapel into a dungeon system after I escaped, but your companions have done my family and our country a great service by helping to restore what Kaylor tried to bury.”

The pair turned a corner and climbed through a gap in the broken rock that Lauraisha’s fire had created and crawled into the dungeon where Katja’s father Kevros had built the wraithwalking altar. As the human and werecat knelt before it, Katja once again read the language of her kin aloud: “Dei Dyvesé it unmygn ort ol restel. Nur dei reinen ol sere finden Me frieden.”

The Feliconian werecat let out a breath heavy with sorrow and longing, then she translated: “The Creator is our refuge. Only the pure of soul will find His freedom.”

A twinkle of silver lit the room, and then a small, silver tree grew out of the offering basin at the altar’s center. Its entwined trunks untwisted to form a translucent oval and the sylph Cyrena greeted them from within its frame. “Creator keep you, my madams. Queen Manasa, I know that you both seek a way to contact the Reformed Mirror and its keeper. The shards alone will not give you enough strength as you have likely guessed. The power you seek is in the Wraith Realm itself, but finding it is more dangerous than you know. You will need a guide if the pair of you are to survive this night,” she said.

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up with more of this scene next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Finally, that marathon I promised you…

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything because my new day job confiscated my life during the month of January. I’ve been stealing scraps of time to write my newest pirate novella, but haven’t been able to do much else. Consequently, I had to postpone the book reading marathon that was scheduled for January. That being said, I’m excited to announce that we are finally starting The Dryad’s Sacrifice reading marathon on Facebook today. We’ll be reading and discussing the Prologue and Chapter 1 if you want to join us. If you’ve ever wanted to know how a book was created–or at least how this book was created–now is your chance. For the next 10 days, we will have daily inspirational quotes, author insights, a lot of crazy Q&A, and, of course, daily prizes. I can’t wait to see what you have to say! Come join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1695736057307543/!

Warmly,
Alycia

P.S.-If you helped support author Brandon Barr in December and January, thank you so much! His fight with cancer is ongoing thanks in part to stem cell transplants. For updates on his ongoing fight, check out his YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaQbFWrJcQD1VKG_Zeb-TXQ.

Dreamdrifter Pre-Orders are Here!

I hope this week finds you well and ready for some fun! I am pleased to announce that Dreamdrifter is now available for pre-order! For those of you who haven’t gotten into the Sylvan Cycle series yet, there is no better time to try it. The e-books of Dreamdrifter and Skinshifter (Dreamdrifter’s prequel) are both on sale right now for only $0.99.
Dreamdrifter_Cover_1-1600x2400

Buy Dreamdrifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Buy Skinshifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Although reviews can’t be posted on Dreamdrifter’s official sales pages yet, but several beta readers have mentioned to me that they couldn’t put the book down.

Rather than just tell you about the book, I thought you might like to read some of it for yourself. Here is an excerpt from Dreamdrifter, Book Two of the Sylvan Cycle series:

Prologue

“Master Daeryn, I am sorry to keep you waiting,” King Kaylor’s personal envoy said, in what he hoped was an even tone of voice as they greeted each other with a bow. He was struck by how much of Marga’s visage was reflected in this handsome male’s appearance.

“With all due respect, Your Excellency, I had expected to meet with His Majesty this evening, not you,” Daeryn said.

The ghoul Curqak suppressed the tremor of fear that coursed through him at hearing something so close to Caleb’s voice after all these years. Instead the envoy affected an urbane smile—tight-lipped to hide his pointed, yellow teeth—and gestured for his guest to take a seat in a nearby chair. “Of course, my apologies, Good Sir, but I’m afraid no one sees King Kaylor without speaking with me first, as is the age-old custom of the Tyglesean court. Now, you did state that the matter in question was urgent, so shall we come to it at last?”

Daeryn narrowed his eyes, but sat nonetheless. As Curqak sat down opposite his guest, he felt sudden sweat bead up through the heavy makeup cloaking his ashen face and black-tipped ears. Would Daeryn be able to sense the decrepit state of his body underneath all the finery, just as Daeryn’s mother had? If Daeryn discerned him to be a deadwalker…but no, the male was now busying himself with repositioning a chair cushion and surely couldn’t smell the charnel scent masked by Curqak’s heavy perfume…

“Where is my mother?” Daeryn asked.

“I beg your pardon?”

“My mother Marga disappeared over a year ago. She was last seen in this kingdom, so where…precisely…is she?”

Daeryn leaned close into Curqak’s painted face and, in doing so, revealed that he too wore makeup to cover his pallid features, and had styled his long black hair to cover the black tips of his pointed ears. Could the rumors possibly be true? Was there more of the vampires’ lineage than either the elves or humans in this hybrid that should have never been able to be conceived?

Curqak gulped hard, but did not break gaze with Daeryn’s penetrating blue eyes. “She did of course come here to speak with the king and queen, My Sir, but it has been more than eleven months since she left our borders.”

“Going where?”

“The guards told me she and her entourage rode northeast. I presumed she would return home to your family once her task here was complete.”

“Why did she come here?”

Curqak feigned shock and dismay. “Well, of course to discuss ongoing negotiations between the Ring of Sorcerers and the king.”

Daeryn sat back heavily in his chair, rubbing the faint stubble on his chin with a gloved hand and frowning.

“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, Master Daeryn,” Curqak said consolingly. “But that is all I know.”

They sat in silence as a servant placed a silver tray laden with mulled wine, mead, bread, cheese, and fruit on the table nearest them and then left the palace chamber. Curqak lazily watched her shut the large door and then turned to survey the food. Normally he made a good show of eating and drinking with guests, purging himself in privacy soon afterward. Today, however, he doubted such a show of normalcy was necessary. After all, if the rumors were true, then Daeryn likely consumed nothing but blood just as Curqak did and therefore would not touch this proffered fare.

Daeryn surprised him by walking to the table and pouring wine for himself and his host. “Forgive me, Excellency, but when did you say my mother left the country?”

“Oh, about ten or eleven months ago.”

“And she was traveling which direction at the time?” Daeryn said as he turned back toward Curqak. He handed the envoy a silver goblet even as he drank from his own.

After a sip, Curqak frowned down at the liquid; it was more acrid than usual, but it gave him a nice warm tingle inside his body. He smiled and took another swig. Of course he would have to rid his stomach of it soon, but the discomfort of retching later seemed a fair trade for the comforting feeling he was enjoying just now. I certainly must speak with the sommelier about procuring more of this particular vintage, he thought.

Daeryn cleared his throat. “Your Excellency?”

“Hmm?”

“You said that my mother traveled southeast out of the country?”

Curqak nodded after another greedy gulp.

“You lie.”

Curqak froze mid-swallow and stared at Daeryn over the rim of his cup. The hybrid had taken off his gloves and his gray cloak and kicked them out of his way as he seized the emissary by his embroidered doublet. Curqak’s goblet clattered to the limestone tile floor as Daeryn yanked him off of his feet. The envoy heard fabric tear and watched as two huge, pale dragon-like wings emerged from the hybrid’s back. Three flaps of those membrane pinions thrust the two of them high into the air and out of the open balcony doors. Curqak shrieked as they flew beyond Castle Summersted’s ramparts and on over the rolling sea.

“Scream if you wish, but none can rescue your worthless hide here, deadwalker.” Daeryn’s eyes were like smoldering embers. His lips parted to reveal a pair of growing white fangs as he clenched the trembling ghoul in one hand and kindled a fireforger’s yellow flame with the other.

“Please, please! Spare me, I beg of you!” Curqak shouted as the wind roared passed his black-tipped ears.

“Why should I?” Daeryn shouted back as he pumped his wings, pushing them still higher into the sky.

The ghoul could feel his face begin to warm. The makeup was the only reason that the delicate skin of his cheeks and ears had not yet blistered in the dreadful sunlight. “I will tell you anything you want to know!”

“Oh, that you certainly will. I have already seen to that by drugging the wine.”

“I will do anything you ask of me short of betraying my own master, which I will not do.”

“Then name yourself!”

“I am called Curqak both by my former master Calais and by my current master.”

“You were once my father’s servant? Before he was Redeemed?”

“Yes. I was given to your father as a gift by my current master, so that he could learn how to perfect the vampire’s bite of servitude. I became his first bitten and most loyal valet until our souls’ tie was broken by his Redemption.”

“Name your current master, ghoul.”

“The Víchí High Elder Luther.”

“And what assignment did Luther give to you?”

“First, to hunt down and bring to him the twelve Keystones of legend; second, to Turn or kill all suspected fulfillers of Third Age Prophesy.”

“And how did you get past the enchantments protecting the Sylvan Continent from entry?”

Curqak moaned as he realized they had flown past the shore and out over the waves of the accursed sea. He retched in spite of himself. “A Tyglesean traitor smuggled me here in the bowels of his ship. It was the worst torture I have yet experienced.”

“‘Yet’ being the operative word, ghoul.” Daeryn snarled. “After the tales I’ve heard of your achievements during the Second War of Ages, you deserve that torture and much more.” They were descending now, swooping toward a tiny island a mere league beyond the shore’s jagged gray cliffs. They landed smoothly amid the dunes and then Daeryn hauled a now trembling and whimpering Curqak to the edge of the lapping waves. Despite the power of the incoming waves, Daeryn stood firm as he held his victim over the water. Curqak winced as he felt the salty spray on his legs.

“Listen to me carefully, Curqak. You will tell me everything I want to know or I will burn your face with the weakest fireforger’s flame while setting your legs in the churning sea. Do you understand?”

Curqak gulped.

“Good,” Daeryn almost purred. “I found the ashes and bodies of Mother’s escorts and of deadwalkers not three leagues from Castle Caerwyn, but Marga’s remains were not among them. So what have you done with my mother?”

“She was taken to Luther’s stronghold on the Northern Continent for questioning.”

“Blaecthull? Why?”

Curqak grimaced. “She is the keeper of the Keystones, but she would not tell me where she had hidden them. Luther has better ways of loosening her tongue than I.”

“And he would risk the presence of a fireforger that powerful in his own fortress? He must be insane! She could lay waste to the entire keep and every deadwalker in it with ease!”

Curqak nodded. “Marga certainly tried. Fortunately, there is a water cave there, which is strong enough to subdue her. After all, she is not like you and has only fireforging magic at her beck and call.”

“And so she is Luther’s captive.” Anguish crept into Daeryn’s gaze then. “What will it take to free her?”

Curqak felt a glimmer of triumph deep within his foggy mind. Was it possible that he might ensnare this male, just as he had trapped his mother? “Master Luther will likely want a trade: either the twelve Keystones in place of Marga or another captive of equal importance.”

“Do you know the whereabouts of the Keystones?”

Curqak shook his head, his eyes squinted shut with the pain of the searing sun and the swirling sea. “I knew of one—the Firesprite’s Sapphire, which Marga had brought to the priesthood here to protect; she did not trust other members of the General Council of Mages. Before I could attain it, Queen Manasa’s youngest brat ran off with the jewel and I cannot find her!”

Daeryn frowned. “So it must be a trade of beings then.”

“Likely, but I’m uncertain who Master Luther would consider worthy of exchange.”

Daeryn pursed his lips over shrinking fangs as he extinguished the flame in his clawed left hand and pulled the dangling Curqak away from the water with his right. When the hybrid released the ghoul, the deadwalker fell trembling to his knees in the dry sand. Before Curqak could think to flee, however, Daeryn shoved him onto his back and pinned him flat under his own heavier bulk. Daeryn forced the ghoul’s mouth open and dripped a pearlescent liquid from one of his claws down the back of the deadwalker’s raw throat.

Heat shot through Curqak’s body and every muscle felt alive with warmth. How long had it been since he had truly felt warm or alive? When had he died? It must have been hundreds of winters ago, but now the ghoul could scarcely remember it. The full-powered serum made his mind fuzzy and his body limp, but he no longer cared as he reveled in this newfound comfort.

“Ask me anything, Master Daeryn,” he whispered.

Daeryn’s answering smile was cold. “Tell me exactly how my father successfully Turned you.”

~
Dreamdrifter officially releases on September 30, 2016!

As an added bonus for those of you interested in reading Skinshifter as a group before Dreamdrifter releases, several readers are doing a Skinshifter Reading Marathon over in the Sylvan Scribes Community Facebook group beginning September 1.

I’ll be popping in and out throughout the marathon with interesting quotes, facts, and giveaways. I’d love to have everyone join in for the fun and freebies. Email me or message me on Facebook if you’re interested and I’ll add you to the discussion!

I’ll be back soon with more news and excerpts as things progress. Until then, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Warm wishes,
Alycia

~

The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

You’re Not a Real Author

Skinshifter_Cover_9-4x6Since I began independently publishing my books in 2012, I’ve encountered an attitude among the writing and publishing communities that absolutely baffles me. When some people discover that I’m self-published, they often react with a knowing roll of their eyes as if to say, “Oh, no, it’s another one of those aspiring author wannabes.” Imagine my disbelief when someone actually said that I as an indie author wasn’t a real author. Um, ladies and gentlemen, I have five books and over a dozen short stories published in multiple formats and available across five continents. How am I anything but a real author?

Dryad_Sacrifice_Cover-4x6As far as I can remember, a person becomes a writer when someone publishes something that he or she has written and a writer becomes an author when someone publishes a book that he or she has written. If a piece of writing has appeared to the reading public in an easily digestible format (i.e. in a blog, newspaper, magazine, or book), it’s considered published. Consequently, the barrier to entry to be a writer is penning one published article. The barrier to entry to be an author is one published book. To be fair, in order to be considered a professional writer or author, you must be paid for the writing that you publish. Some groups will argue that there is a set amount of money that you should be paid to be considered professional, but money is money. When money is paid for a good or a service, that monetary exchange counts as a business transaction. Therefore, the writer who is paid that money is a professional writer, not an amateur writer and certainly not an aspiring writer.

Thorn_Thistle_3-4x6When I worked as a market reporter and journalist for the Livestock Weekly newspaper, I was paid to write 30-40 articles every week for publication. Over a period of two years, that professional writing workload meant that I produced almost 1,200 published articles. My boss who was the publisher and owner of the newspaper also wrote articles for every LW publication. Those articles were then proofed by our editor, pieced together by our graphic designer, processed by our printer, and then printed on the printing press that we stored in the back of the office building. In effect, my boss Bobby was self-publishing. And he was self-publishing in one of the premier agriculture newspapers in the United States. No one would dare say that Bobby wasn’t a real writer just because his articles were published in his own newspaper. If anything, our readers’ main complaint was that they wanted more of our newspaper with all of its timely information even faster.

Now I’m a few years older and I find myself doing something similar to what Bobby’s father did in his youth: build my own publishing company and write my own published material. Unlike Bobby’s 10-person company, my press is so small that I have to contract out-of-house for everything from editing to printing. Even so, much of the process is the same. Each book is written, rewritten, beta tested, edited, proofed, formatted for print, formatted for electronic publication, proofed again, and sent off into the wild blue yonder via distributors and retailers for purchase and perusal by readers.

Musings_Cover-4x6ACI’ll admit that the quality control process is more in-depth for books than it is for newspapers, yet I would never say that newspapers produce an inferior form of writing. After all, one of the world’s most prestigious writing awards—the Pulitzer—is given to journalists. Whatever the field, it takes a great amount of discipline and dedication to produce informative and engaging writing on a daily basis. Writing is not an easy achievement, but it is a crucial accomplishment.

I think the essential question in this debate is not whether indie authors are “real” authors, but whether indie authors write high-quality work. As in traditional publishing, the answer depends on the writing skill of the individual author in question, not on the method that author uses to achieve publication.

FirstFruitsCover2As for myself, I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to write my best for my readers each and every single day. When I began my writing career, writing my best meant that I worked as a traditionally published journalist and fiction writer. I became an indie author when traditional publishing proved too slow of a system to help me get my books to the people who wanted to read them. Now I work as a hybrid author—constantly flitting back and forth between the two publishing methods. No matter which method I use to get my words out there, my incredible readers are my final indicators of quality. Their opinion is what matters most to me. No matter what anyone else says, it is my readers who make me a real author. Consequently, the only thing left for me to aspire to be is a better writer than I was yesterday. Love and thanks to my readers! You are all amazing!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

Twelve Books of Christmas Reading Challenge & Scavenger Hunt

"Ice Oak Ornaments" photograph - Click to enlarge or buy.

“Ice Oak Ornaments” photograph – Click to enlarge or buy.

We’re weeks away from Christmas and, of course, I’m excited! This year I thought it might be a lot of fun for readers if I issued you all a Christmas/Winter reading challenge. My challenge is this: read 12 books by January 31. To sweeten the deal, each book must be based on a different theme which is listed below:

    Angels We Have Heard: a book with angels or heaven in it
    Candy Cane Colors: a book that has red and white or red and green on its cover
    Christmas Tree: a book that takes place in a forest
    Snowflake: a book where snow or winter is a prominent part of the story
    Sleigh Ride: a book that has horses or a sleigh in it
    Three Kings: a book with a king or kings in it
    Christmas Feast: a book which is more than 450 pages in length
    Figgy Pudding: a book which is less than 300 pages in length
    Star of Wonder: a book featuring stars either on its cover or in its title
    Under the Mistletoe: a book in which two characters fall in love
    Toy Soldier: a book with at least one battle scene in it
    Away in a Manger: a book which features the birth of Jesus Christ in some way

These books can be fiction or nonfiction (although I think the fiction would be more fun).

For better or worse, here are some of my picks:

Read them if you wish or substitute your own books.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

The Moments When Pictures Really Are Worth a Thousand Words

Root_Lattice-4x6AC(This blog article has been re-posted due to a website glitch.) There are photographs that I have taken—some recent, some years ago—that inform the way I imagine a certain fiction scene. One of the great examples of this was a photo that I shot when I was a teenager while on vacation with my parents in the Smoky Mountains. The image in question was of a staircase which led up the side of a hill. However, this was no ordinary staircase. It was one which was literally built out of the roots of trees as they wove their way through the earth.

Unfortunately I do not have the photograph anymore, but the memory of that image directly informed my vision of how the architecture would look on Mount Sol’ece in the Sylvan Cycle and Sylvan Prelude book series. I wanted to incorporate the tree root staircase into the dryads’ world because it really fits with their culture. In my books, dryads don’t build their buildings so much as grow them. Consequently, most of their infrastructure and architecture is based on tree roots and tree branches woven around rock.

There is only on other photograph that I’ve ever shot that comes close to capturing the feeling of that original root staircase. That image is “Root Lattice”—a photo I took two years ago while journeying with my husband through the temperate rain forest near Ketchikan, Alaska. While I have used this image to help me imagine some of my dryads’ dwellings, it mainly informs the look of the mysterious trees makes that make their appearance in my Musings short story “What Tendrils Echo”. I hope this photo provides others with as much writing inspiration as it has me.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Wildflowers Verses Pirates

"Wild Joy" - click the image to enlarge or buy.

“Wild Joy” – click the image to enlarge or buy.

I stepped outside my kitchen door this morning and discovered a beautiful surprise. Little white and purple wildflowers had bloomed in the green grass blanketing the earth just below my balcony. I’m not sure what they are, but they look like miniature daisies. Each flower’s head is no larger than a dime! I’m quite sure others would consider them weeds, but for me, they are a colorful display of wild joy. That was something I treasured this morning.

The past two weeks have in an emotional roller coaster ride much like the rest of this summer. Now that Skinshifter, The Dryad’s Sacrifice, and Thorn and Thistle are published, I can concentrate on my other writing. I’m hard at work creating Sloop and Sword, the sequel to Thorn and Thistle. I’ve also seen the first review of Thorn and Thistle by a reader, who gave the fantasy pirate novella a 5-star review! Of the three books, Thorn and Thistle was the one that I have worried over the most because I had so little production time to spend on it compared to the others. Apparently, I stressed for nothing. The reviewer thought the story was well-written and especially loved the unique ending, which is something I adore as well. It completes the story’s plot and character arcs in a surprising way, while giving me a great jumping point to use in continuing the tale.

Thanks to all of you, Skinshifter and Thorn and Thistle did fairly well in their first two weeks of sales; however, we have a long way to go before these books can find their way into all of the right readers’ hands. If you have suggestions on that front or any questions about my stories, let me know. I’ve already had a few readers ask me if I would create world maps for each of the books, so I’ve added those to my production list. I hope to begin work on the maps as soon as I finish the rough draft for Sloop and Sword. Right now, I have a fourth of the novella written and the characters have already endured two sword fights, a kidnapping, a double-crossing, and one really creepy swamp. The full manuscript is due to my editor in mid-November. Wish me luck!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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