Alycia Christine

Vivid Fiction, Epic Photography

Category: Fiction (Page 1 of 10)

The SCRAWLS Fiction Diary: A Strange Bit of Home

I love the contrast between the rough, gray bark of this tree and the soft yellow of its neighboring field of wildflowers. The photograph was shot north of College Station, Texas, in March 2017. Please tap on the image to see more.

Last week, I began something I call the SCRAWLS Fiction Diary. As its name implies, this is meant to be a public diary of my fiction and artwork as I create all of it. You’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, epic world-building.

Today’s post comes from my in-progress book Fireforger, which is the third book in the Sylvan Cycle series. This scene is from the main character Katja’s perspective and helps to set the mood, not only for the first chapter, but for the book as a whole.

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Katja Kevrosa Escari knelt on a pile of furs with the meager contents of her rucksack spread out on top of the stone altar before her. A leather scrap from her brother Kayten’s rucksack, her sister Keepha’s small lytzahn dagger, her Feliconas Clan signet crest, and her brother Kumos’s tanning kit complete with a fleshing knife and needles were all that she had left of her family.

She gazed up at the darkness of the damp dungeon around her—noting that the tatters of Zahra’s Moon Moss were finally beginning to grow back in the places where Daeryn had ripped them from the stone walls. The vegetation’s soft glow reflected in the few salty puddles still left after Castle Summersted’s dungeons had been drained of sea water and cast green light on the Felis runes of the altar in front of Katja. The tawny werecat leaned forward and rubbed her scared right paw across the carved symbols of her clan’s language, smiling through the steady stream of her tears. Here, in this place so unlike anything of home, she had found some of the most powerful reminders of her dead family.

“I thought I might find you here,” a male’s gentle voice said behind her. Felan placed gentle paws around her shoulders. The little werecat gripped the black werewolf’s paws as tears slid down both of their cheeks. Today marked the first anniversary of the Feliconas Clan Massacre and the beginning of the Third War of Ages.

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I hope you enjoyed the reading! As I mentioned last week, my goal is not necessarily to bring you finished writing, but to show you the rough stuff as well. 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 SCRAWLS fiction diary 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

What Do You Do When The Monster Is Worth Saving?

Of_Kelpie_Lullabies_cover-1600x2400As many people, I am a huge lover of mythical creatures from lore and legend. The reason I love working with these strange and fantastic figures is because of the freedom they give me as an author. Using mythological creatures allows me the ability to explore different cultural archetypes and stereotypes without overtly offending anyone. Of the many stories I have written, “Of Kelpie Lullabies” is a perfect example of this technique. I created a deeply flawed heroine who longs for a normal life, but is cursed by corrupted magic to be a murdering monster. In the end, it is Keiranna’s choice to accept or reject love and forgiveness for her crimes that determines whether or not she can have that normal life that she so desperately craves.

The story itself may deal with sorcerers and magic, but I believe that most people can identify with its themes of grief, love, longing, despair, and forgiveness. How many of you reading this are cursed with the slavery known as drug addiction and alcohol addiction first hand? How many have become so angry that you have harmed someone with words, actions, or with your own fists? Who now hates yourself for the wrongness of you choices or the weakness of your habits?

Welcome to Keiranna’s hellish life.

How many of you know a drug addict or an alcoholic cursed with a need for a substance that is so powerful it controls every decision. Do you weep for them or are you beyond caring? What about those who hurt you? Do you write them off as a monster too loathsome to love or do you cry for them all the harder?

Welcome to Edwin’s predicament.

Edwin could have turned his back on the monster he saw destroying others from a distance, but he did not. He saw her, all of her. He saw Keiranna’s anger and her sadness. He saw her brutality and her fragility. In the end, he reached out to her because he understood that her pain matched his own.

Keiranna does not rely on her own strength to save herself nor does Edwin. Instead they make the choice to help each other and seek aid from a power far stronger than both of them to accomplish that goal.

Are you the monster or do you know the monster?

I ask you today, who is your Edwin and who is your Keiranna? What power do you rely on that is greater than yourself to remake your life and to remake the lives of others? I personally rely on Jesus Christ to help me love myself and love others—even the monsters. I know that many of my friends and acquaintances prefer to pray to other deities such as Allah or Buddha, but I prefer to worship Jesus because he is the only person I have ever known to prove his true love for me by dying in my stead. He took the penalty for my imperfections on himself to show me that, though I often make mistakes and do wrong toward others, I am still worth dying for. It is Jesus’s love, his sacrifice, and his defeat of death that I cling to daily because Jesus is the only person I have ever found whose loving faithfulness never wavers.

If you’re struggling with something that you can’t overcome on your own, I encourage you to ask Jesus for help. You’ll be amazed just how far his love and strength can shine in your darkness and your doubt.

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

Alycia

P.S.-If you haven’t read the story, you can do so for free. It’s one of the stories in my Musings anthology which is given away on my Welcome Page.

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The SCRAWLS blog 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

Write Where It Hurts

Blue_Undulations-AC4x6“Talented writers don’t write perfectly. They write courageously.” -Jeff Goins

It’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for two hours. I’ve sent my husband off to work, finished a few house chores, and dressed for the day. Sitting in front of my computer with a steaming cup of tea and a half-eaten bowl of cereal by my side, I open a document and skim the last four pages of yesterday’s writing. I have a few precious hours of quiet in which to work before heading off to my regular job. I can’t waste them. Today starts me off in the middle of a scene in which one of my characters has been abducted and the other characters are still reeling from the shock of losing her. The tension couldn’t be higher—for them or for me.

After writing six books, you would think that book seven would be easy, but it isn’t. The newest novel has proven persnickety so far. Beginning a book in the right place is one of the trickier parts of writing for me. This means that I’ve written three different drafts of the Fireforger prologue before finally getting it right. I’ve been working on this manuscript for months now—living with it day in and day out. Dreamdrifter might be new to the eyes of the world, but it’s already 30,000 words behind me. I’ll sit at this desk for the next two hours refining and writing. I still have a lot of marketing to do today since Dreamdrifter just came out, but that will have to wait until I’m finished with my day job this evening. For now, I put aside all of the other worries and distractions. For now, I just write.

So far, life as a writer has been anything but easy or affluent. This is a full time job for me which pays less than minimum wage in exchange for long hours of emotionally-exhausting work. This may not be my only job or my easiest job, but it is my best occupation. Writing is the career that I feel called to do because it allows me to be a triumphant survivor by profession and to share my stories of encouragement with others.

I am a survivor and an adapter, and I always have been. I’ve dealt with three disabilities since early childhood to make it this far in life. In the past five years, I’ve buried three loved-ones, watched a fourth slip beyond sanity, and lost half of my belongings to fire, electronic failure, and financial downsizing.

As painful as life can sometimes be, there have been two constants to help me slog through all of the mess: my loved-ones and my writing. The blessings of true love and friendship have helped me overcome every obstacle—no matter how small or large. We cling to each other for support as we swim these turbulent seas. There are those I know who have endured lives far harsher than mine and I remember their stories as I write.

Like so many of us, my characters are all survivors of something—broken homes, broken hearts, broken hopes. Each has had his or her share of tragedy or catastrophe. Katja, the main character of Skinshifter, Dreamdrifter, and now Fireforger, lost her entire clan in a single bloody night. While she managed to survive the sudden massacre that destroyed her family, it took her much longer to relearn how to live. Her friends helped her find hope again just as my family and friends have helped me.

When I write, my yearning is to remind readers not to wade through this wonderful and terrible life by ourselves. Yes, sometimes the waves are gentle enough that we can make it a stroke or two on our own without drowning, but we don’t have to wade through it alone. We need each other to help celebrate each other’s successes and help to buoy each other up through all of the upsets.

My words help keep me swimming toward that new dawn peeking just over the dark shore, but they do no good for you or anyone else unless they are shared. I write not just to survive life, but to understand and overcome it. I write to hope. I write to thrive. My dearest hope is that my words help you thrive too.

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

Alycia

(This article was originally published as a guest blog on Sarah Noffke’s website on 10/14/2016.)

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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!

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

Remembering 33 and the Birthday Bucket List

pansy_passion-4x6acI turned 34 this week. Hurrah! I survived on this planet one more year and I couldn’t be more grateful. While it has had its share of challenges, the year of 33 has been so much easier than the year of 32. The year of 32 saw a career change, lost job, house downsizing, 430-mile move, a devastating fire, hard drive crash, and a case of head lice. The year of 33 has happily been a little more mundane. We still endured life in a cramped apartment, more job hunting, tight finances, car transmission repairs, and a tornado scare, but we’ve also experienced so many blessings. My husband gained a new job working with good people. We found a good church home with people who care about us. We’ve made friends here in Dallas who are actually as quirky and nerdy as we are. I saw my sixth book published, started the Sylvan Scribes book reading club, was a guest speaker at a speculative fiction convention, met several amazing readers, walked the grounds of two arboretums, attended Major League baseball games, and toured world-class art museums. Even with all of that, walking into my neighborhood grocery store and seeing the sheer variety there compared to my small town’s store still makes me smile.

In the weeks prior to my birthday, people kept asking me what gifts I wanted and, quite frankly, I had no idea to tell any of them. Money? Clothes? A lamp to replace the broken one on my side of the bed? Nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed adequate because I have already been given so much.

As it turns out, what I really want for my birthday aren’t things that money can necessarily buy—although it can help. If I’m truly honest, what I most want for my birthday are things like: losing 20 pounds and being able to fit back into the sexy leather pants I wore in college, shooting photos of plants and wildlife in their native environment on some exotic island, seeing one or more of my books hit the USA Today bestseller list, replacing my sturdy but worn camera equipment, spending time with my closest family and friends, and being remembered on my birthday as someone who made a difference in others’ lives.

He didn’t know it, but my husband was the first to give me my best birthday present this week. As we both sluggishly crawled out of bed at 4 a.m. to get ready for work, he kissed me and wished me a simple happy birthday. Before anything else happened and before any other promptings, my husband took care of my first birthday wish: to have my birthday remembered by someone I love. My parents did the same about four hours later and my family and friends have kept the amazing wishes coming ever since. They all made me smile so much!

I haven’t celebrated my birthday yet, but I think I should tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, I think I’ll do some writing, finish a few house chores, get some of the junk cleared off of my desk, and go to church. In the afternoon, I’ll take the birthday money I have and go shop for a couple new pairs of jeans and maybe visit the zoo. After I’ve had my fun for the day, I’ll sit down and plan out the bucket list for what I hope to have happen by my next birthday. I think I’ll skip the exotic island trip this coming year in favor of a few more practical things.

Getting back in shape, helping other people, publishing more books, replacing the broken lamp and camera flash, seeing my favorite bands in concert, visiting more museums, and maybe hitting that bestseller list all seem like amazing goals. And the best part about each of them is that I won’t be working toward them alone. With a year’s worth of planning and several hundred people rallied to the cause, we might see all of this come together. So here’s what I’m asking for my birthday. If any of you had planned on spending any money on me, I’d ask that you would instead help me give gifts to someone else. Go online to your favorite bookstore, find a friend in need of a good book, and then give them one of mine. It’s a simple gesture and it won’t cost you more than what you would pay for a cup of coffee, but I guarantee you that it will make at least two people’s day a lot more fun. If we can each make someone else’s day happier, maybe we can all find our own smiles a little quicker.

Thank you all so much for my birthday wishes! 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!

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

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.

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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
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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

Writing as a Business: The Myths of Self-Publishing, Part 1

At the request of a reader, I’m beginning a new mini-series in the next few weeks on my Writing as a Business blog. My dastardly plan is to give all of you a step-by-step guide on how to self-publish a book. I plan to start with a general overview of the steps I personally take to publish each book. I’ll then discuss each step in the process in more detail during subsequent posts. Depending on your feedback, I can change and add to the blog schedule as needed. Before we begin the main guide, however, I need to make sure that you are in the proper mindset when it comes to self-publishing. This means that this week and next week, we’re going to be busting several self-publishing myths.

Myth #1: The Ease of Self-Publishing

People think that self-publishing is easy and I can’t really blame them. Compared to the seemingly endless cycle of submissions and rejections that a single book manuscript can go through in the traditional publishing world, self-publishing a book looks easy. It isn’t. Self-publishing may be a simplified publishing process, but that doesn’t make it easy. Anyone who tells you differently is likely trying to sell you the literary equivalent of snake oil.

As I have little faith in literary cure-alls and have zero patience for their petty proselytizers, let me tell it like it is instead of wasting all of our time by sugar-coating things. Self-publishing is a slow-growth business. If you want to be an indie author, then you need to understand that you are in this for the long term. You as an indie author are a self-employed entrepreneur. And, like most starting, self-employed businesses, you won’t get rich quick. In fact, you may not get rich at all.

Myth #2: Getting Rich Quick

It’s rare that I meet an author—indie or traditional—who can make a full-time living through his or her writing. Those that do are usually the ones willing to do whatever it takes to put out the best-quality, more-professional products they can as quickly as they can. Full-time professional authors are the ones who have broken their backs writing and revising book after book. As I’ve said in a previous post, it’s usually the most persistent and persevering authors who win this race even over the most talented authors. Of course, those who strike it rich in this business usually do so because they have all of the talent, persistence, and luck on their side. To use a baseball metaphor, full-time authors are the major league players in our field. They are the fortunate few that spectators want to pay to watch even though there are millions of kids and adults who actually play the sport. To make a living as an indie author, I have to play harder, smarter, and better than many of the major league players hitting home runs in my genre.

The reason that getting rich as an author is so difficult is because book authors are the ultimate freelance writers. Unlike regular employees in any regular service industry, authors aren’t paid for the time that we work; we’re paid only for our end product. That means that we need a variety of products (books) to satisfy our customers (readers), and that we’re going to incur production, marketing, and distribution costs before we can ever see our product in the hands of our customers.

Authors get paid from the royalty off of every book we sell. For traditional authors, that royalty is usually 12-30 percent of every book’s sale price (not including any sales or vat tax). For indie authors, that royalty is often 30-70 percent. Indie authors get a larger cut than traditional authors because we do more work. Indies act as both the author and the publisher, which means that we are ultimately in charge of all aspects of the book. We deal with the writing of the book as well as its editing, formatting, legal protection, cover art, back copy/marketing description, retail distribution, pricing, and more. The extra royalty isn’t free cash for indies; every extra cent is well-earned.

Myth #3: The Small Cost of Self-Publishing

One of the biggest misconceptions I find among new authors is the notion that self-publishing costs less than traditional publishing. I never have understood that idea because when you self-publish as an author you are taking on the responsibility of publishing your own book in addition to writing it. This means that you will incur every single cost that an author and publisher will incur just to see your book as a finished product. Consequently, self-publishing costs more time, money, more commitment than traditional publishing.

If you are going to self-publish, you need to understand this high cost of self-publishing. While writing a book can be a hobby, publishing a book is never anything less than a job—complete with overhead costs, distribution deals, sales figures, taxes, and more. You as the publisher of your book will be in charge paying for the costs of editing, proofreading, cover art, marketing, and distributing your books. Note that I said books, not book. As I have previously said, a wise publisher knows that a profitable publishing business is built on a variety of products, not a one-shot wonder.

Such publishing projects can cost anywhere from $500-$10,000 per book. Depending on your individual strengths and skills, you may be able to mitigate publishing costs by taking on one or two of the publishing projects yourself; however, I caution you against doing things yourself or on-the-cheap unless you have a professional background dealing with the project in question. Remember what I said earlier about playing harder, smarter, and better than many of the major leaguers in the same genre? If your book’s writing, editing, cover art, or marketing copy can’t compete with the professional players, then you don’t have a prayer of stepping up to bat with readers.

Of course, my reasons for telling you all of this is not to discourage you, but keep you from walking into the role of an indie author blind. This publishing route is a very rewarding pursuit as long as you remember that it has its drawbacks just as traditional publishing does. I hope this helps dispel some of the misnomers associated with being an indie author. Next week, I’ll bust three more self-publishing myths.

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

Alycia

P.S.-I am happy to announce that I’m looking for beta readers for my book Dreamdrifter, the sequel to Skinshifter. If you’re interested, contact me!

~

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

Bleeding for the Better

"Crane Moon 2016" - Tap to enlarge or purchase.

“Crane Moon 2016” – Tap to enlarge or purchase.

I’ve been drinking copious amounts of green tea and racking my brain for most of this evening. I’m in the middle of third-draft rewrites on Dreamdrifter and I’ve hit a very interesting dilemma. There is a very sweet scene between two characters at the beginning of Chapter 6. I absolutely love it, but I don’t think it fits the overall tone of the book at this point. I need to decide if I should keep the scene and rewrite it, if I should pull it for use later in the book, or if I should just delete it altogether. I’m not sure which is the right answer, but I hope to figure that out within the next day or two.

A lot of work has gone into my rewrites of Dreamdrifter and I’ve been fairly quiet about the process up to this point. I’ve changed the overall tone of the book’s first few chapters to make it move faster. I’ve also woven more intricate subplots into the overall manuscript. Both of these decisions have required me to take a virtual machete to the first third of the book: hacking up and rearranging scenes within the pages with a ferocity that would probably make a butcher proud. Once I get done beating this book to a bruised pulp, then I’ll give my editor her chance to make the manuscript bleed all the more for the better. If I’m truthful, I have to admit that I always look forward to her special attention with equal parts, fear, trembling, and elation. Editing is always a difficult, heart-wrenching process. It is also the only way I know to take writing from bad to great.

The book’s rough draft is due to my editor toward the end of March and I had hoped to introduce it to beta readers before then, but time has slipped faster than desert sand through my fingers and I find myself brushing up against deadlines faster than I expected. I will, of course, still get copies of the book sent out to those who want to help me clean up those last gritty issues before publication, but that will have to wait until after my editor works her blood magic on it.

In the meantime, I will continue to write and plot and scheme and manage to drag my characters through all sorts of insane adventures for my readers’ particular pleasure. We’re still a ways away from my being able to officially announce a publication date, but I can promise it’s happening soon.

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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