Alycia Christine

Enchanting Art, Encouraging Tales

Tag: ruins metropolis

SCRAWLS: Putting Personal Passion into Your Prose

Sumaris_Solitude_CoverThe start of my official fiction writing career began in 2006 when I sold my first short story “Sumari’s Solitude” to Hadley Rille Books for distribution as the lead short story in their Ruins Metropolis anthology. While I have written better-crafted short stories since then, I am still extremely proud of that tale. Here is why: the story was the first short story that I had ever written that dealt with a deeply personal issue of mine.

My story’s main character was the first female high priestess of her temple. Because of her spiritual and political position, she could not marry the man that she loved. The tension of Sumari’s occupation interfering with her love-life was one that I knew quite well. At the time of the story’s actual publication in 2007, my soul mate and I were living over a thousand miles apart. I had moved to a new town with very few friends, was working as the youngest reporter that my news publication had ever hired, and I was stuck in the middle of one the most politically charged offices I had ever encountered. I did not realize it at the time, but I desperately needed to vent my feelings about the whole maddening situation in a way that would not point fingers or fuel any gossip trains. Fiction writing became my solution.

I poured my conflicting feelings of frustration and longing and hope into the character of Sumari. I made her feel like a living, breathing person who shared some of my sorrows. The story’s creation did not change my situation, but it did help me cope with it better.

I wrote and edited the 6000-word short story in less than a month—a great feat for me in those days. The story was then accepted for publication by the first publisher to which I submitted it (Hadley Rille Books). I am now firmly convinced that one of the main reasons “Sumari’s Solitude” was accepted for publication so quickly is because I poured a genuine piece of myself into its creation.

All of this brings me to my writing advice for today: great writing is always deeply personal and passionate. It takes true bravery to write well because such writing requires the writer to share things that he or she deeply cares about with the reader. Such truth can be scary; however, its rewards are incredible.

Some authors have described writing as a form of therapy. I heartily agree with this statement. There are, of course, some published authors who can put together an entertaining story with little depth in either their characters or their story plots. You can still make money with shallow stories, but do you really want to be remembered for a so-so caliber of work? I do not and therefore I try to avoid writing shallow stories as much as possible. To be sure, deep writing is harder because it cuts further past your comfort zone and dips under your personal defenses to spill your greatest hopes and fears out onto the page in stark black and white for all to see. This is unnerving, especially when other people can so easily criticize your efforts. In the end though, I would rather use deep writing to help bring hope and encouragement to other people who have gone through some of the same problems I have endured. If one person finds help through the honesty in my writing, then it is worth a thousand of the harshest critics’ screams.

My passion for my writing drives me through mounds of discouragement. In the end, I am always the biggest fan of my own work just as you should be the biggest fan of your own writing. Your dedication to your writing will make or break it in the minds of others. Making your stories personal will help drive your passion toward them and your passion will help you ensure that your stories are well-written and therefore well-remembered in the mind of your readers. Your writing is your only real way to communicate with and make a good impression with a reader, so be as personable and honest as you can be with them. Those who learn to trust and appreciate your good work will become your most loyal fans and in turn offer you encouragement when you need it the most.

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

🙂 Alycia

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears with love, fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

SCRAWLS: FREE Story Excerpt from “Sumari’s Solitude”

Sumaris_Solitude_CoverToday’s Tuesday Tidbit is brought to you by a slightly frazzled author. After finally receiving a reply from Harper Voyager on the submission status of my fantasy book Skinshifter, I got the standard rejection summary of “We liked, but we won’t publish it.” I have thus decided to hold off on resubmitting the book manuscript to a traditional publisher and instead want to run it by all of you first. I am asking anyone interested in reading and critiquing the book for free, to please contact me. I will send a .pdf copy of the book to the first 20 beta readers who contact me and we’ll go from there.

Now then, on to today’s regular post…

This excerpt is from “Sumari’s Solitude”, the very first fantasy short story I ever published.

Sumari stood near the balcony’s sheltering pillar watching the breath of the gods make living waves of the sand dunes beyond Aamanru Temple.  Her small right hand kept her dark veil in check while the left fist held the deep opening of her indigo robes firmly closed to shield her gold pendant and tattoo from the dancing dust.  She huddled near the warmth of an alabaster lamp and sadly watched the sun, Aa’s eye, descend into the desert.

“High Priestess?” a male’s voice hissed.

She turned away from the sunlit sands and beheld a lamia guard watching her curiously.

“King Draigoss has arrived, Mistress,” he said, bowing low.  “You are needed at the front entry.”

She watched him with bemusement, wondering how he could actually balance well enough on his scaly tail to demonstrate such an act of respect toward her.

“Very well, Kaa, I shall greet him.  Have you said your evening prayers yet?”

The strapping snake-man shook his human-like head.  “No, Mistress, but I shall once I escort you to the main hall.”

She smiled.  “Very well then . . . to the task at once.  We should not keep the exalted Sathe or the good king waiting.”

Kaa grinned, exposing his sharp fangs, and then slithered protectively after the high priestess—his Iklwa spear clinched firmly with both hands.  The human and lamia wound their way around the inscribed sandstone monoliths supporting the temple’s vaulted ceiling and finally descended the stone steps leading to the main hall where Draigoss and his entourage waited.

“Good evening to you, Sire!”  Sumari said as she formally curtseyed.  “What brings you to my humble hovel?”

Draigoss returned her bow and, although his bearded lips twitched at her ironic statement, he said formally, “A pleasure as always to greet you, High Priestess Sumari.  Forgive me, but I am in need of your generous assistance.”

“I freely give it as always, Your Majesty.  But first, let me see to the comfort of your companions . . . Kaa, have the slaves prepare fourteen east wing chambers for our guests.”

“It will be done, Mistress.”  Kaa put his right fist to his heart in salute and bowed before leaving.

“Ryald,” she said, turning to another temple guard, “show our guests to the formal dining den and give them whatever sustenance they require.”

“At once, Mistress!”  The other lamia guard saluted her and bowed before clapping his hands together.  Slaves slipped from the pillars’ shadows and carried Draigoss’s companions’ belongings to their chambers while Ryald politely motioned the guests through an archway and down a side hall toward the kitchen and dining areas.

The king did not follow his party, but instead stood watching his aides and personal guards march down the corridor.  He then turned to the High Priestess of Aa.

“I am sorry over the appalling length between visits,” he murmured.  “Affairs of state have kept me away from this hallowed ground and your honored presence for far too long.”

“Indeed your presence has been most missed,” Sumari replied perfunctorily.  “Come.  If you wish it, we may talk privately in my study after I call for some tea.”

The king nodded and so she motioned him to ascend the red-stone stairs with her.  They did not speak again until Sumari had led him through the labyrinth of hallways to her private chambers.  After she had sent the chamber slave to the kitchens for herb tea and fruit, Sumari shed her formal headdress and veil with relief.

“Sumari . . . ” the king whispered and pulled her into his arms before she could breathe.

“No, Draigoss!  We mustn’t!” She said, pushing away from him.

“Please, My Pearl, let me hold you a moment for my sagacity’s sake.”

Sumari finally relented and felt the comfort of his strong arms encompass her small body.  He held her protectively, running calloused brown fingers gently through her ebony tresses.

“I missed you so,” she quaked against the dusty robes covering his broad chest.

“I know. . . I missed you, too,” he whispered before kissing her forehead.  They stood there embracing until the scratch of scales against stone alerted them that the chamber slave had returned with their tea.  By the time the slave had opened the door, the monarch and priestess were comfortably seated on opposite divans and engaged in a spirited conversation about state politics.

“Thank you, Mynza,” Sumari said when the female had poured cups for Draigoss and herself.  She dismissed the female who bowed and slithered out of the room.

The priestess signaled to Draigoss in formal hand-sign language: “No doubt she’ll have her ear pinned against the door.”

“Indeed,” he signed back to her.

“Mynza!” The priestess called more loudly than necessary.

The young female lurched through the door looking abashed.

“Summon Kaa, please.  You will find him either overseeing the preparations of the east wing bedchambers or at prayer.  You will wait until he is finished with his tasks and then bring him to me.”

Mynza looked disappointed but affirmed her instructions and left.

“Nicely done,” Draigoss murmured.

Sumari smiled then became serious.  “All right, Draigoss, I know this isn’t a purely social visit.  What has happened to make you travel such a distance?”

The king nodded grimly.  “An alarming report has reached me that certain members of the priesthood plan to foil the Conversion Ceremony and possibly assassinate whomever you pick as successor.”

Sumari sat up and sighed.  “And Makili is among the conspirators.”

“How did you know?”

“I have my sources too, Draigoss.”  Sumari’s eyes narrowed dangerously.  “They must think that I will appoint a woman to succeed me.”

“Precisely.  You have made many enemies during your decade-long reign as Aa’s most faithful servant.  Many of the priests believe that the leadership of Aamanru Temple and the surrounding oasis of Daku is better left in male control.”

“It is not their decision!” the priestess growled.  “It’s not even my decision!  Aa chooses whom he wishes to serve him however he sees fit.  I have no more control over that than Makili or his cohorts.”

“I know, Pearl, I know.”

Sumari rose and began to pace the room.  “The time of decision draws near; in four days I must go into seclusion and commune with Aa during Solitude.  Hopefully, he will have the answers that I seek and offer us protection against those who would betray our faith.”

“I hope so. . . for all of our sakes. . . ”  Draigoss sniffed his tea critically.  “Do you not have something besides rooibos?  I could do with a good stout black tea.”

Sumari smiled at the familiar complaint.  “You know other tea plants cannot grow in our soils.  It is rooibos or nothing.”

Draigoss made a face and then downed his cup’s steaming contents in three gulps before starting to sate his appetite with the tray of fruit.  Sumari sat again and shared the plate with him, content to avoid discussing religious politics for the present.  She must deal with such unpleasant matters too soon anyway.


You can read the rest of the short story for FREE by signing up HERE. You can find out more about the publisher Hadley Rille Books HERE. You can buy the full Ruins Metropolis short story collection HERE.

P.S.-I will try to have the “Sumari’s Solitude” story cover up for sale on the photography website by the end of the week. Look for my announcement about it on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks!

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia Christine Sears and/or Alycia C. Cooke with love and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Hugo Nominations

For those who are voting, my fantasy short story "Sumari’s Solitude" qualifies for a Hugo nomination. It was published by Hadley Rille Books in the Ruins Metropolis anthology edited by
ericreynolds . If anyone still needs to read the story, e-mail me at and I’ll send you a pdf copy.

Thanks so much,

Ruins Metropolis Review, Short Story Updates, and Spore!

Check out ahmedakhan‘s review of Ruins Metropolis! My own reading of the anthology has unfortunately been stalled by an onslaught of story revisions. Hopefully I’ll be done with those edits and submissions by next week and be back to writing and reading new stuff.

Yesterday I received formal rejections for two short stories: "Chosen" that I submitted in June, "The Star Child and the Golden Seed" that I submitted in August. The rejection for "Chosen" was a form letter, but the one for "Star Child" was a personal letter from one of the editors. The editor praised the story and gave some excellent revision advise. I am eternally grateful for the remarks since I now know how make the story even stronger.  I plan to revise "Chosen" and "Star Child" and look for new homes for both of them this week or next. I am still waiting on my "Seedling" submission, but I don’t expect an acceptance or rejection on that story for another month or two. I still have "City of Twilight" stuck in Baen’s Bar, but I haven’t attempted revisions on that since the wedding (mainly because I just can’t figure out how to fix a critical plot flaw yet).

In other writing news, I wrote rough drafts of two new stories this week and so now I must make massive revisions on "Keiranna’s Hope" and "On Butterfly Wings" before submitting them for publication. I also have a third of "Orb’s Song" finished, the first 400 words of "Another Day at the Office" typed, and am trying to flesh out the rest of those stories.

In competitive news, my darling husband bought the game "Spore" for me yesterday and I am addicted. Those of you who know me well, understand that I am not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. It annoys me to spend more than 30 minutes at a time in someone else’s imagined universe unless it’s a written story (and I usually prefer to run around in my own creative universes instead of another’s anyway). The last and only game I played often was "City of Heroes" and I stuck with that only as long as my friends were playing with me. Well, gang, I spent 2.5 hours last night playing through the cell and creature evolutionary phases of "Spore" and I can not wait to get to tribal phase. This just might zap some of my writing productivity, but I think it’s worth it in this case. It is so much fun to have creative control over how my digital creature looks and behaves (from the bones out). Who knows, I just might get some fun story ideas off this game. At the very least I found a good excuse to relax a little without sacrificing my insatiable need for creativity.


I Proudly Announce Ruins Metropolis

Ruins Metropolis
. The third volume in the Ruins series from Hadley Rille Books. Thirty-five fantasy and science fiction stories based on Debbie Hughes’s cover art, “The Spirits of Hathor.” 

Camille Alexa (
Anna D. Allen, 
Megan Arkenberg, 
Chris Benton (
Brenta Blevins (
Leslie Brown, 
Alycia C. Cooke (
Adele Cosgrove-Bray (
Willis Couvillier (
H. F. Gibbard (
Jude-Marie Green (
Erin M. Hartshorn (
C. L. Holland (
Kate Kelly, Victoria Kennedy, 
Ahmed A. Khan (
Stephen Graham King (
Heather Kuehl  (
Gerri Leen, 
Barton Paul Levenson, 
Kari Livingston, 
R. F. Long (
Lyn McConchie, 
Jennifer Moore, 
Ransom Noble, 
Christine Poulsen, 
Gianna Robbins (
Rob Rosen, 
Jacqueline Seewald, 
Jonathan Shipley, 
Gene Stewart, 
Meg Swanton, 
Sarah Totton, 
K. L. Townsend (
Kim Vandervort (
Sarah Wagner (

Edited by Eric T. Reynolds ( ericreynolds).

Order now from! Be one of the first to read my short story, “Sumari’s Solitude” and discover what happens when the High Priestess Sumari uncovers a plot to assassinate her unnamed successor. Religion, politics, and true faithfulness vie against one another in this powerful portrayal of one woman’s struggle for love and liberty.

To Do List

To do list for this week:

-Go to the grocery store

-Cook a large pot from which leftovers can be gleaned

-E-mail my DJ with my song requests for the wedding reception

-Sign a contract for a new (and bigger) apartment where Matt and I can live

-E-mail our officiating pastor about the scheduled counseling sessions that Matt and I must attend

-Go to Lubbock for my bridal portraits (this Saturday)*


Ongoing to do list:

-Write thank you notes to those people who were gracious enough to give us wedding gifts

-Begin packing up my current apartment

-Continue to tan so that I don’t look like a corpse bride*


*plus anything else I can think to do.


On another note, I give my sincere thanks and admiration to 

 who was brave enough to attempt my MadLib story challenge! Go see her work! It’s hysterical!

By the way, Ruin Metropolis is sadly still delayed although I am fairly sure that it has made it through the physical press at least. I’m still waiting on my author copy and official notice of publication, so we are unfortunitely still officially in limbo.

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