Alycia Christine

Vivid Fiction, Epic Photography

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Will Sparks Fly When Mages Dabble in Politics? Find Out Now on the SCRAWLS Fiction Diary!

A lady bug sits among the myriad blooms of Queen Anne’s Lace. Tap for more details.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’re going to mix a little magic and politics. Today’s post finds three characters from my in-progress book Fireforger vying for the Tyglesean throne. This should be interesting!

~

Ashomocos groaned. “Not only do Tygleseans need a wise king to rule them, they need one who can unite them as well. We cannot afford to be divided, especially with the war against the deadwalkers well underway.”

The others nodded.

“Well, what do you suggest?” Felan asked.

Ashomocos just shook his head and looked at Tryntin, who shrugged.

Vraelth looked down the table at the Tygleseans. “Trynt, I may have a solution. My aid in rebuilding so much of the war-torn wharf and merchant districts these past two months has given me quite an outstanding reputation among your merchants. I think they might listen to my recommendations in this dispute and then help convince others of my case.”

Tryntin nodded. “Likely, but how could you make any decision that would be beyond reproof?”

The deep-purple-skinned elf stood and motioned for Katja to do the same. “There is an incantation—very ancient—that I as a charmchanter and Katja as a wraithwalker can do together. It’s called the Bond of Truth and it lays bare every deception within its intended target. If the three of you who are in line for the throne were willing to submit yourselves to this test, we can use it to determine who would make the best king. Then we can build our case from there.”

“It shows every lie?” Saldis asked.

The charmchanter mage nodded.

Saldis shuddered. “Then I formally declare my abstention from the throne. Forgive me, but I’m a far better spy than I am a politician.”

Tryntin smirked at him. “On the contrary, I think your lies make you an excellent politician.”

Saldis rolled his eyes even as he chuckled. “That may well be true, but you didn’t have to say it.”

Tryntin’s grin grew even wider. “The truth hurts, I’m afraid.”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry from the SCRAWLS Diary. As its name implies, this is meant 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 sketches. 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 build my fiction worlds allows you to truly walk the creative writing journey with me through all of its ups and downs. Please email me your thoughts!

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

~

The Seared Cranium 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 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

The SCRAWLS Fiction Diary: “I Am Coming For You…”

A dragon wraps her neck
and wing around her precious egg.

After six months of working at a job in that occupies ten to twelve hours of my time every day, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I can write fiction books or I can write a nonfiction blog, but I don’t really have the time to create both. I could crawl into my warm, dark writing cave and simply work on a book as I have for most of this year, but that doesn’t serve you as my readers any better than me writing a blog without writing the books that you all love to read. After all, you deserve to know what’s happening and to be at least somewhat entertained while I’m working. With that in mind, I’m turning this blog into a fiction diary with artwork sprinkled around the edges. The writing will essentially be my thoughts on paper in the order that they occur to me. I’ll bring you new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, epic world-building. You’ll also see some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding and stitches that I use to build my fiction worlds. Fair warning, the writing might not make much contextual sense and, at times, may not be well-edited. However, I want to show you some of the work-in-progress before presenting the final polished book so that you understand how difficult and fascinating the journey of writing really is. By practicing in public, I will also be held accountable to get my work done every week. I can accomplish so much more with all of you readers cheering me on than I ever can alone.

Without further ado, here is this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS fiction diary. It is a scene from my in-progress book Fireforger, which is the third book in the Sylvan Cycle series. This scene is from the villain Daeryn’s perspective and begins right where the last book Dreamdrifter stopped. Right now, this is serving as Fireforger’s prologue. We’ll see if it stays as that or if I make changes to it before final publication. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it!

*

“I am coming for you.”

Daeryn bolted upright on the silken sheets of his bed—his crimson eyes whipping around his chamber in terror. He was alone, but that did not comfort him. The vampire shade had heard Katja’s words echo throughout the depths of his dreams just as Princess Lauraisha had. The overwhelming power of the wraithwalker’s voice had caused cold beads of sweat to trace their way down the pale length of his spine.

Daeryn and Lauraisha answered Katja in the same moment: “I know.”

The werecat had caused him to feel many things, but fear had never been one of them—not until now. He felt his heart pound in his chest even as he opened his shrouded mind wide to embrace this newest sensation radiating from her bright awareness.

And then their minds’ link was severed before the shade could reestablish their bond, leaving him truly alone once again. Daeryn screamed. “No! No, please…!”

He licked the salty moisture off of his lips and hid his face behind pale, shaking hands as a new fear gripped him. The shade pushed his mind toward the trail left in the wake of the wraithwalker’s awareness—grasping at the power that had so easily displaced his dark desires. He searched every corner of his mind for the warm tendril of her vibrant thoughts, but it was gone. She was gone.

“Please, Katja, come back to me…” Daeryn whispered to the empty room even as he felt the heavy rhythm of his rock-hard heart slow and then cease to beat altogether. He put a clawed hand over the scar adorning his chest where the lump from her spear shard had once nestled inside his flesh. For a brief moment, he had felt alive again. He had felt as he once had when her mind was irrevocably linked to his and nothing could separate him from every beautiful and terrible emotion she experienced. It had been a full moon’s cycle since she had stolen the spear shard and shattered their bond. It had been a full month since he had felt any impression from her at all. For one brief moment, Daeryn had allowed himself hope that she had returned to him, even in the depths of this new fear she had instilled in him. Now, she was gone and he felt numb once again.

“No, not again…”

With a snarled string of curses, the vampire rose from his bed and donned his clothes—intent on visiting the slave pens. He was not particularly hungry just now, but he would feed nonetheless. After the encounter he had just endured, Daeryn was desperate to experience the comforting rush of warm blood through his icy veins.

“I shall drain only one this time,” he promised himself. After the flogging Luther had given him over his last overzealous feeding, taking a single slave’s life seemed a far better strategy even if it could no longer satisfy his Thirst.

Daeryn’s pale, membrane wings unfurled from his back and hurled him off of his bedchamber’s balcony into the moonlit night. He circled high above the black spires of Blaecthull before diving toward the entrance of the cavern holding the slaves.

With Princess Lauraisha imprisoned in the water dungeon far beneath the vampires’ fortress, Katja and Daya’lyn would have no choice but to come to the Northern Continent if they wanted her freed. And Daeryn would greet them when they came.

They were dangerous now, so deliciously dangerous. As a full manticore and wraithwalker mage, Katja was now death to the undead and Daeryn cherished her all the more for it. His final conquest of her would be all the more satisfying now. Whatever else happened, he must be strong enough to withstand her when she came for him.

The vampire smiled to himself even as his yellow fangs lengthened in anticipation of the hunt. “Yes, only one slave this time…”

*

Please email me your thoughts! Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

This inspirational image is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting 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 Release Day!

dreamdrifter_quote_beast_monster
I am so excited that my book Dreamdrifter is now available to purchase! For one last week, the ebook will be on sale for $0.99. After that, the price goes up to $3.99, so I highly encourage you to take advantage of the low price if you haven’t already.

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

Read Dreamdrifter’s first three chapters free!

For those of you who are interested, a plan of epic proportions is being hatched to read Dreamdrifter together over in the Sylvan Scribes group on Facebook. The group had a wonderful time reading and discussing Skinshifter this month, so we’re going to continue the fun with Dreamdrifter beginning on October 10. I’ll be popping in and out of the group sharing different prizes, author insights, games, quotes, and other interesting tidbits along the way. The group link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1695736057307543/. We’re open to all ages, so please join us!

For those of you who haven’t gotten into the Sylvan Cycle series yet, there is no better time to try it. I will hold the $0.99 prices for Skinshifter and Dreamdrifter for one more week, then we go back to the regular prices!

Buy Skinshifter at:
Print | Amazon Kindle | Apple | B&N Nook | Kobo | Smashwords

Read Skinshifter’s first three chapters free!

A final note for my intrepid crew of beta readers: you can now review Dreamdrifter and tell the world what you think. I can’t wait to read your comments! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. I could not do this without you!

Review Dreamdrifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Again, thank you all! Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

The Skinshifter Reading Marathon is almost here!

Reading_Marathon_SkinshifterIn case you didn’t see my last note, we are about to start the awesome Skinshifter Reading Marathon over in the Sylvan Scribes Community on Facebook! We’re reading and discussing a chapter a day until we finish the book. All of the fun, fantasy, and freebies starts tomorrow, so contact me on Facebook if you want to join! I can’t wait to see you there!

Thanks,
Alycia

P.S.-Here is a excerpt from my upcoming book Dreamdrifter for your reading enjoyment.

~
An Excerpt From Chapter I: Shade Shifting, Part 1

“Felan, Dayalan, do something!” Lauraisha said as she pulled on her waist-length auburn hair in agitation. The chemise-garbed human edged toward the group. “Katja’s gone mad!”

Felan just continued to stare. “I didn’t think it possible for her even to become a lioness—not yet, at least! She has never skinshifted into erdeling form so fully before. Until her mind gains control over her new bestial instincts, she’s very dangerous.”

“Really? We hadn’t noticed,” exclaimed Zahra. The dryad’s jade-hued lips curled with her sarcasm even as her fingers wrapped more firmly around her sunsilver sickle.

“I suggest we make a slow, steady retreat,” Dayalan murmured, nudging the two females protectively behind him as he raised his sunsilver staff into a defensive position.

Katja had begun to tear at the cumbersome clothing entrapping her transformed body, her curved claws and fangs shredding both linen and leather with uncanny ease. Malevolent eyes turned back toward the odd cluster of beings slowly retreating through the servants’ door as she kicked off the last offending rag. Tail thumping the floor in warning, she stalked the intruders.
She smelled their foul stench all around this strange den. How dare they invade her territory! The lioness focused on the pale elf with long black head-fur. Instinct demanded that she deal with the one called Dayalan first. The breeze from the room’s open window blowing the Erdeken pack’s scents more strongly toward her keen nose. Katja stopped in sudden confusion, testing the new aromas. Horse blood and wolf fur as well as vegetation tickled her awareness. The scents were familiar, almost comforting, but strange to associate with the beings standing before her.

“Lauraisha, now might be a good time to use that uncanny talent of yours,” said Felan. He was larger than the other male and smelled more of wolves than of humans.

How odd, the lioness thought.

“I tried!” Lauraisha whimpered.

Dayalan gripped his blood-scented staff harder even as he and the others retreated through the door. “Try again.”

Katja’s maw curled in a silent snarl at Dayalan’s challenge and then relaxed slightly in confusion as emotions not her own brushed the edge of her awareness. Thoughts of kinship and affection floated through her thoughts in contrast to her own raw rage and frustration. The skinshifted lioness’s mind dredged up a new well of memories more complex and intense than her bestial instincts could dominate.

Katja stared at Lauraisha and cocked her head, remembering the Tyglesean Princess smiling as she offered the skinshifter a fish, and then showing her the curious contraption of string and stick that she had used to catch it. She turned her gaze toward Zahra, and remembered her red hair looking almost aflame with the setting sun’s rays as she strode toward Katja in the royal linen garb of her odd feminine race. Of the tallest human saturated with wolf scents, she remembered another full moon’s night when Felan had comforted her after she had skinshifted beside an artificial water spring…a fountain, it was called. But the half-human who reeked of horse blood only brought forth memories of vile red eyes and crimson-streaked fangs. Flashes assaulted her mind of Dayalan’s face contorted in gleeful lust as he drank his fill of blood from a horse. The lioness crouched in sudden hate and fear, her guttural growl forming a single snarled word: “Víchí!”

She roared and launched herself at the vampire fiend before he could close the door against her.

“Katja! No!”

Princess Lauraisha flung herself in front of Dayalan, a hand raised against the lioness. A blast of scarlet flame burst from her delicate fingertips, searing the lioness’s golden fur. Katja felt the terrible heat even as her claws sliced skin.

“Lauraisha!” the Víchí and dryad screamed in unison.

“I’m bleeding…” the human fireforger murmured. She stared in dumb fascination at her tattered arm and chest before crumbling to the floor…

Pre-order Dreamdrifter:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
~

Check back next week for Part 2! Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

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

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

Why I Lost My Way

"Stream Leaves" -  Tap to enlarge and create customized gifts.

“Stream Leaves” – Tap to enlarge and create customized gifts.

Let me apologize…

I’m sorry, but I’ve lost my way. For months, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with this blog. I’ve had little motivation to write it and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know. I mistreated my creative subconscious and now it’s enacting its revenge.

The worse writer’s block that I ever have when writing a novel always happens when I make my characters do something out of character. When I put them in a situation where they act against their own natures, the half-oiled wheel that is my writing squeaks to a sudden, inexorable halt. I end up with my muse and my characters giving me the silent treatment—refusing to talk or to budge from their stilted position on the page until I fix the scene and solve the problem. I’m afraid the same thing has happened here on my blog.

Let me explain…

If we are all the main characters in our own lives, then I have acted out-of-character on this blog and I am sorry. I really haven’t been writing to my strengths and the creativity here has suffered for it.

For the past several months, I’ve been writing more and more frequently about the self-publishing process because it’s a very relative topic which many readers and writers find interesting. I’ve shared my expertise about the process of self-publishing as I’ve experienced it. But here is the problem: self-publishing isn’t really my passion and neither is teaching.

I chose to pursue self-publishing as a more direct and efficient way to interact with my readers, not because I necessarily prefer it over traditional publishing. Like anything else in life worth pursuing, indie publishing is very challenging. If I’m honest, I’ve developed a bit of a chip on my shoulder toward the publishing process (both traditional and independent) because it is such a difficult slog. There are no short cuts in this business, not even as an indie author. I am an indie author because I must be. At the end of the day, I am still the person most passionate about my own art and so I am the person most qualified to share my art with others.

So in the end, it is still my soft voice up against the roar of the world’s vast creative oceans. As much as I care about the work I’ve done, how can I ever hope to share it with others? How do I get my work distributed into the hands of my readers? My website blog and book distribution partners like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords have certainly given me a toehold in the game—far more than what I ever had ten years ago. And yet I am still one small voice adrift in the sea. Albeit one with a raft.

The real problem is…

And then, just I was learning to steer that raft, I became convinced that such an endeavor was useless unless I also taught others how I do it. I believed the lie that my work was not as valuable in and of its own right unless I taught others the method I used to produce it. The problem with this is two-fold. First, it means that I lost confidence in my own unique work. Second, it means that I’ve tried to be something I’m not.

I’m not a teacher. I’m a mentor. I work best with one or two people under my wing at a time, not an entire lecture hall. I’m far more interested in why things happen, then how they occur. It’s just how I am—how God built me. Instead of trusting in my Father’s plan, I tried to push one discipline into the other and make it work. Shame on me. Believe me, I didn’t mean to undermine my own God-given strengths, but I did it anyway. That’s usually what happens when I let doubt gnaw at me.

So now that I’m too exhausted fighting against myself to keep up this charade, it’s time to return to my roots. I’m an artist, after all, so my energy and inspiration are renewed with each new creative discovery. Although I tend to be a deep-thinker, my natural artistic tendencies mean that I’m much better at portraying the flowers and the thorns of the world around us than I am actually teaching how they grow.

Let me make this promise to you…

All this is to say that I’m going to take this blog in a renewed direction. Instead of talking about the ins and outs of how writing, publishing, or photography work, let me instead show you the beauty of why they work and why I love them as I do. I want to do what I do best: take you along on a creative journey and share with you all of the adventures (and misadventures) along the way.

These scrawls of mine should not contain wasted ink. That just muddies the ocean of creativity more than it already is. Instead, I believe, that my scrawls should help you view the world from a new perspective and a wondrous heart.

Finally, let me also warn you…

I can’t say with certainty say how this new writing chapter will unfold in our lives together, but I’m willing to give it my best effort in the hope that I can do what I set out to do in the first place: rewrite the world for the better. Thank you for patiently sticking with me thus far. I hope you’ll continue to journey with me, even with the missteps. Hopefully, together, we will find more love and inspiration than we ever thought possible.

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

Writing as a Business: The Myths of Self-Publishing, Part 3

A few weeks ago, I began a new mini-series on my Writing as a Business blog outlining a step-by-step guide on how to self-publish a book. Before we begin the main guide, however, I wanted to prepare by writing several posts dealing with some common self-publishing myths that can cause stumbling blocks for those new to the game. If you haven’t read the first or second self-publishing myths articles, I suggest you do that before tackling the article today. For those of you who are all caught up, let’s continue.

Writing Myth #6: Getting It Right on the First Draft

No matter the area of expertise, the difference between a professional and amateur is lots of practice. Consequently, you need to prove yourself as a professional by putting in the work required of you. In the case of writers, this means that the first draft of a manuscript is never good enough to publish no matter who you are or how long you have been writing. Professional writers know that publishable material only comes after several drafts of a manuscript are complete.

In my case, I finish a rough draft and let it “rest” for at least a couple of weeks. I come back to it with fresh eyes, and rewrite a second draft of the manuscript. If the second draft meets my expectations of quality then I’ll send it to my alpha readers. I write a third draft based on their suggestions, send the third draft to my copy editor, and write the fourth draft based on her critique. With four drafts under my belt, I should be done, right? Wrong! Instead, I’ll send the fourth draft to beta readers and write the fifth draft based on their comments. If all things turn out well, the fifth draft of the novel goes to the proofreader and the sixth draft is the one that sees final publication. However, before I click that publish button, I have to oversee the manuscript’s formatting for multiple book additions including three e-book formats and, at least, one print version of the work.

What about the streamlined version of the writing/publishing process?

Sorry but what you just read is my streamlined version of how to take a manuscript from rough draft to publishable form. If I find plot holes or other inconsistences in the book at any point during the second draft revision process, it will require additional rewrites for part or all of the manuscript. Skinshifter, for example, required about eight drafts before it ever even saw my editor. Dreamdrifter only took three.

If this all sounds like a lot of work to you, well it is. I know other writers—independent and traditional—who are far less picky in their revision process and, quite frankly, their lack of effort shows. They may call themselves professionals, but their writing still proves them as amateurs because they haven’t revised their manuscripts enough. To put it in simple terms, they haven’t put in the amount of practice required to write on a professional level.

So how much practice is needed?

That depends entirely on the writer. I’ve heard estimates of five to twenty years before a writer can be considered a master of the craft. I’ve also heard the 10,000-hour-rule applied to writing proficiency. One writer, the popular blogger and author Hugh Howey, recommends that the amount of practice a writer needs to be adept at his or her craft can be achieved by writing five hours a day, five days a week, for five years. If you do the math on that you get: 5 hours x 5 days x 52 weeks x 5 years = 6500 hours total. This is considerably less than the rule of 10,000 hours of practice that I’ve heard from other sources, but I suppose it’s possible to write on a professional level after five years if the practice is deep enough and the writer adept enough in skill. The truth, though, is that writers never really master our craft because there is always more to be learned.

For me, that journey of discovery and learning is part of the joy of the vocation. I love learning and so I try to discover something new about writing every day. I’m always reading to increase my general knowledge and to deepen my understanding of writing. As I read and as I practice the act of writing itself, I grow in my appreciation of this incredible craft as a means of shared communication and artistic expression.

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

Writing as a Business: Becoming a Panelist

"Bashful Flamingo" - Tap to enlarge or buy

“Bashful Flamingo” – Tap to enlarge or buy

The past three weeks have been so exciting! I turned Dreamdrifter into my editor on March 26 at just over 137,000 words. Once I delivered the book into the capable hands of my most talented mutilator, I prepared for AggieCon. This year marked a rather special AggieCon for me. After attending the con for ten years, I was invited to be a speaker on four different discussion panels. The invitation marks a promotion of sorts for me as a writer. Until now, I had always come to the convention to listen to the panelists and learn from the things they share. Now I find myself speaking as one of them. That isn’t to say that I don’t still learn as a writer, but now I’m at least in a place where I’ve practiced a few things long enough to be able to share with others what works and what doesn’t for me. It’s a welcome transition that has come through a ton of hard work.

Of the four panels that I helped run, the Self-Publishing Panel was by far the most interesting for me. The attendees had some excellent questions and some of those questions are what I want to address today. Since I’ve written quite a few articles about the business of writing, I wanted share several of my past discussions on the subject. Here is the list:

I hope each of these help you progress in your knowledge of the craft and of the business! 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

Broken Transmissions and ConDFW

"Sandhill Crane Flock" - Tap to enlarge or buy.

“Sandhill Crane Flock” – Tap to enlarge or buy.

As many of you know, life in our household has been quite an adventure for the better part of the past six months. In the process of relocating from West Texas to the Dallas area, my husband and I’ve endured a moving truck fire, a hard drive crash, a tornado scare, and, now, a car transmission repair. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my car apparently no longer wants to properly shift gears and she informed me of this fact in no uncertain terms while I was driving home from a photo shoot on Friday night. On the bright side, I managed to get her to a good repair shop without getting stranded in the side of the road.

On an even better note, I will have the funds to pay for the repairs. While we continue to look for full-time jobs, I’ve been blessed with some freelance work. I have two massive photo shoots during February to keep me busy and help make ends meet. Yay!

I also have the wonderful opportunity to attend ConDFW this weekend as a dealer. For those of you in the Dallas area who have not had a chance to get my books or artwork signed, this will be a great opportunity for you to do that as well as hang out with me during a first-rate book convention! In addition to the full dealer’s room, there will be tons of discussion panels and other fun happenings to satisfy all of your bookish, artsy, and nerdy habits. By the way, this particular con will host well-known authors Seanan McGuire and John Scalzi plus a lot of other incredible writers and creatives. I look forward to seeing everyone this St. Valentine’s weekend at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre (5410 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, TX 75240)!

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

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