Woven Fate – Prologue

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Da, where are you? Tovi fiddled with his mug, sloshing the milk as he rolled it on its edge. It had been three days. Why had his father made him run? He wrapped his cloak a little tighter around his shoulders.

The tavern owner knocked on the table. “Hey, kid.”

Tovi looked up.

With a jump, the man stepped back then shook his head. “I’ll never get used to those.” He tapped his finger under his eyes.

Blinking one eye closed then the other, Tovi alternated between his right blue and the left green eyes. “What do you mean, Axel?”

He chuckled. “Want some more?”

“Yes, please.”

The man shook his head. “Most kids your age would try to sneak a little ale when they parents aren’t looking.”

“I’m not most kids.” Tovi shrugged.

“Speaking of your da?” the owner trailed off.

Tovi sat up a little straighter. “He’s coming.”

“Mm hum.” After filling his mug, Axel wondered away.

Swinging his legs, Tovi glanced back towards the door. Taking out his money bag, he counted what he had left. How much longer until his father show up? If wasn’t careful, he’d run out of money. Axel had been kind about it so far. Saying something cost one thing when Tovi knew it was another. The tavern owner was practically letting the horse stay in the stable for free.

The horse. That was the other mystery; why his father let him take the black and white he was training for the prince? Probably should consider giving it a name to call it more than horse. Tovi’s snorted as he thought back to the conversation with Prince Noach where he asked if he could name it. The prince teased him that he was making the horse his own, stealing it before his eyes. It was the afternoon before his father made him run. With a nod, he decided to wait. Might as well not confuse the poor animal before they went home.

But how long would that be? Tovi’s head hurt from all the questions that kept chasing each other. Rubbing his hand through his hair, he took a drink of his milk.

“Did you hear about the uproar at the castle a few night ago?”

Tovi glanced at two patrons sitting at the bar. Axel was filling mugs but also glancing at the men as they talked.

“You mean that great banquet the prince was throwing?” said one man with messy beared.

“So happens the prince commissioned a tapestry to commemorate the event.”

“Tapestry?” Axel interjected. “One of those haven’t been woven for the royal family since the prince was born.”

“Apparently he thought a glimpse into the future was the best way to celebrate the defeat of Dallown.”

“Aye, that was a spectacular battle.”

The news bearer picked up his mug. “Bet he never guessed it would show the fall of Elandra.”

The mug in Axel’s hand slipped, clattering on the counter as the bearded man jumped. “What?”

Tovi gasped and leaned over the arm of his chair to hear better.

Taking a sip of his ale, the news bearer set his mug back down. “The tapestry showed the castle in ruins. With a lone figure standing over it. Darkness surrounded all as fire consumed the ruins.”

The other man ground his fist into the counter. “Villain. If I ever find the man, I’ll take his head and deliver it to the prince myself.”

“You might get your chance,” the man went on. “The figure had a unique look to him.” He pointed to his eyes. “He had two colored eyes.”

Hand shaking, Tovi reached towards his own. Two colored? That tapestry wasn’t predicting him. He wouldn’t do that. Why would he? But… his father had been at the banquet. That was the same night he made him run.

Tovi looked towards the bar. And met the gaze of Axel.

Slowly the man leaned closer to the patrons, still watching Tovi. “What color were those eyes?”

Uh oh. Pulling up the hood of his cloak, Tovi stood and moved towards the back of the tavern, avoiding looking at anyone else.

Stepping out the back door, he ran for the barn. Inside, he unbolting the stall door where the stallion slept and saddled him. As he swung the saddle bags on the horse’s back, he realized all his clothes were in the room he’d rented. For a second, he thought about going back. Then considered passing through the common room. And the news of the tapestry. Shaking his head, he grabbed his bow and quiver from the wall in the stall and led the horse outside.

Axel and the two man stood outside the tavern door. The bearded men was rubbing a fist into his other hand while the news bearer grinned. But Axel just looked scared.

Tovi stepped back.

Holding up his hands, Axel said, “It’s okay. We just want to talk.”

The men stepped towards him.

Tovi towards the horse, struggling to get his foot in the stirrup but the stallion was too tall. One of the men grabbed him and pulled him down. Kicking his legs, the man tossed Tovi to the ground. Landing in the dirt, he coughed as the wind was knocked from him.

With a ringing neigh, the horse reared up and knocked his front hooves into the man sending backward. As the new bearer man ran up, the horse twisted around and kicked out his hind legs, striking the man in the gut.

While the two patrons groaned in pain, Tovi scrambled up and got on the horse. The tavern owner ran towards him.

Struggling to hold the reigns as his hands quaked, Tovi held his arm out to the side, raised it, and said, “Hup.”

The horse sprang up off all four hooves and kicked out his hind legs. The tavern owner skidded to a stop just in time not to be struck. With a click of his tongue, Tovi signaled the horse who charged around the tavern and into the street. Gripping the pommel, it took all his strength to stay on the horse as he pulled on the reigns to direct it down the street and out of the village.

They didn’t stop until they were well into the forest. When he did pull up, Tovi dropped to the ground and braced himself on his knees, gasping for breath. Why would he do those things the men said he would? He didn’t want to hurt anyone. This was why is father sent him away, why he tried to sneak Tovi out of the castle. Touching the skin below his eye, Tovi’s heart squeezed, feeling like he couldn’t get enough air.

His da wasn’t coming. Or he couldn’t come. Was he in trouble because he helped him? Was he okay?

Standing straighter on shaking legs, Tovi knew he couldn’t stay there. But he couldn’t be seen in the villages either. Climbing back on the stallion, he turned off the path and into the tangled forest, disappearing into the brush.

***

Author’s Note

The jump-kick the stallion did in the story is a real move. I got the idea from a short video I once saw on Facebook. The video sounded like it was filmed during a medieval-like competition or show and historically the move was used in defense during battle. It was so cool I wanted to use it in a story. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the original video I saw to share but I did find other videos featuring it. I also learned the move’s name: capriole. Here is a video of the jump (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUJ6YLyysLE). The original video I saw it in was when the horse was being ridden so it can be done from the saddle. I made up the hand gesture.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Tovi and will come back next Sunday when the story starts matching Havok’s themes.

2020 Blog Project

Hello readers. So sorry for the lack of posting in December and most of January. The holidays took a lot of time away and then it just continued to slid by. I had wanted to talk about last year’s writing and reading habits (if you would still be interested in a post like that, drop a comment below) and then, with the new year, talk about plans for this year. Well, this post will talk about a big project I plan for this year (something I wanted to announce last month but, as stated, holidays).

With the start of this month, I will be releasing a novel in twelve parts (chapters) on this blog, from January to December. I’ve heard of others doing this before but was inspired to add an additional challenge from a writing challenge I did last year.

For about a year and a half now, I’ve been volunteering with Havok Publishing, first as an editor and now with the marketing department. Because so many who volunteer are also writers, we set up a writing challenge for those in house to try and write a story for each theme in each genre (I took a smaller challenge in only writing one story per theme in a one of Havok’s genres which would make it twelve stories in total.) I was two stories short of accomplishing it but it was fun. A story or two into the challenge, I started thinking how fun it would be to write a story where each story would flow into the next to make a cohesive whole. So, I decided I would do that this year with Havok’s 2020 themes. That is how this new blog story is going to work.

So, before much more, lets take a look at some of the guidelines:

  1. Each part will corispond with Havok’s monthly theme in the order that they appear (Part 1 with have a Dynamic Due, Part 2 will be Answering a call, etc).
  2. Because the story will be one whole story and will have to build a little more than a flash fiction piece, each section can be 2,000 words long.

Next, what are Havok’s themes this year?

  • January – Dynamic Duo
  • February – Answering the Call
  • March – Strange New Worlds
  • April – End of the World as We Know It
  • May – Super Duper
  • June – The One Thing

Each part of the story will emphasis these themes will also creating a whole and complete story. Now, you might be asking, “That’s only six themes. This is supposed to go the whole year. Where are the last six?”

Great question. And the answer is Havok hasn’t released the next six months of themes so I don’t know. Really, I don’t know completely know where the second half of the story is going to go (part of the challenge) but I have some ideas so getting those to work will be fun. The first half of this blog story is already written (NaNoWriMo 2019) and just need some editing which will be done as they are released.

Part of the prep work for this story, I also read How to Blog A Book by Nina Amir. While the book focused more on blogging a non-fiction book, there were some take aways that I’ll be using for this story. One of which is exclusive content. I hope to compile and self-publish this story when it is finished. So, while the main story will be on the blog, there will be additional content for the finished, published book that will expound upon and broaden the story and world.

I hope you come along on this journey with me this year and enjoy the story. Now, to tell you all what this story is about!

Woven Fate 1

A prophecy foretold a man with two colored eyes would destroy the kingdom. Tovi is the only one with different colored eyes which has caused him to run since he was ten. Hiding among a traveling troupe of performers, he performs archery tricks on his horse, trying to live a normal life. But prophesy is always looming and when it causes him to run again, he set out on a quest to see if he can re-stitch his fate and out run those who hunt him for the person he may become. But can change the future or is he destined to become the man who doesn’t want to be?

I’m really excited for this story and I plan on publishing a prologue tomorrow to set the story and then Part 1 on Sunday the 26th. Stay tuned here and on Facebook to here about progress and new parts as they release!

Questions? Thoughts? Drop a comment and let me know what you think of the upcoming blog story, Woven Fate!

Completing NaNoWriMo

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Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month). If you don’t know what that is, it is where writers get together to accomplish the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month (usually November). NaNoWriMo has expanded through the years to include April and July with Camp NaNoWriMo where you get to set your own word count goals during that month (I particularly like this). The point of the challenge is to write and accomplish a first draft (not a final draft. Editing must still be done). I participated this year wanting to get a bulk of writing done for a project for next year (more on this project later). But I had some unique goals because it wasn’t 50,000 words long. So my goals:

  • 24,000 words
  • A first draft
  • Open to working on other, smaller projects if the main project got done early.

So in the end:

  • 21,744 words
  • All but 657 words are for a different project but not everything I’ve written will be in the final draft.
  • A first draft is complete

Even though I didn’t get as many words as I wanted and I didn’t hit the 50,000 like I secretly kind of hoped I still might do, I feel accomplished. The main point of doing this was to complete the first draft which is what I did this afternoon. I now have something to work with and a huge chunk done for later. So I hit my goal in a way.  The first draft of the first half of the story is written. The next half of this story will be written during the next NaNo which would be April.

Yet, part of me is still sad I didn’t hit the 50,000 mark. Not making the daily goals the site projects was actually a big contention for myself for about the first half of the month. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to hit 50,000, my story was just not that long. But not hitting the daily goals frustrated me, stressed me out, and I was putting words on paper without feeling anything and were coming out pretty bad which added another lay of frustration. It was more going through the motions to satisfy and see the graph grow than anything else. Strangely enough, a glitch that I caused on my NaNo page ended being a big help in overcoming this. I tried to see if I could change the word count and ended up changing what NaNo event this was for. Suddenly, the site was saying the project was for an old event and wouldn’t let me update my word count. I had a melt down because I couldn’t put it back to the current event and I couldn’t update which meant I couldn’t see the progress on the chart and I wasn’t sure if it could be fixed (I know, very superficial and a bit over the top). But, over the course of trying to get this fix, I learned to let it go. I was there to write the first draft and if I did that than I accomplished NaNo, whether I was able to continue updating through the site or not. The problem eventually got fixed (see, no reason to melt down, right?) but I was in a better frame of mind. I focused on writing the characters’ story and focused on the story, not the word count to update (but I still love updating and seeing how far I got). It allowed me to connect to the characters better. I think the story started getting better because of that.

Granted, I still had to write. I made myself write every day over the last two weeks (except yesterday because I was way overtired) even if it was just a little bit. I was stuck again in the story so I only had to write a few hundred words. I was reading How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell at the time and he talked about writing 500 words in the morning and 200 at night, no matter what. So, even though I was stuck and it was late and I didn’t want to do it, I would write a little bit. That get me to find where I was going in the story for that stuck section and I wrote 300-700 each day during that two week period. I was productive even through an unknown section and it didn’t turn out bad.

Another thing I gained from this experience is how much I wrote. I wrote of 21,000 words in a single month. All year I’ve been trying to finish a novella to self-publish. I finished the first draft and am in the middle of a second but it has been going slow because of interruptions and me not working on it when I have the time. It is currently sitting over 18,000 words and I wrote most of those this year too. But it took me a couple of months. So I couldn’t believe that I wrote more than that in a single month. It just goes to show how much you can get done if you set down to it daily, even if it is just a little bit because that is all you can manage that day. You will still be making progress. If the story is going smoothly, I can write a lot more than a little bit at once.

During all this, I even brained stormed when I got stuck and wrote a several side stories that relate to my main story to discover some background information. I also wrote a story for Havok which I sent in for consideration for January. It encourages me to get back to work writing and getting those words on paper.

So, I got a lot out of NaNo this year. Didn’t accomplish the set goal but I got my goal done and even came out with a new perspective and encouragement as I move on with my novella and my NaNo project which does need editing (especially in big spots) but that I have a lot of hope and excitement for.

Keep an eye on this blog next month to learn more about the NaNo project and what I’m doing with it next year.

Keep writing!

A Writer’s Bookshelf

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Just as pen and paper is important to a writer, so are the resources they use. A great way to hone your craft is through writing resource books. This is one of my favorites.

This is one of the first (if not the first) book I read on writing fiction. Loved it. Engaging yet knowledgeable. This book gave me a great appreciation for Jeff Gerke‘s writing. He also started and ran Marcher Lord Press (now Enclave and ran by Steve Laube) which publishes some of the top Christian speculative fiction. Check them out sometime.

This book covers all topics of writing. Showing vs. telling (this was a really clarifying chapter), characters, POV (point of view), and so much more. It even goes into why you want to write. I remember loving this part and really made you think about why you write. What is the motivation behind it and what does that mean. In fact, glancing back through the chapters now, I am thinking about rereading this book soon.

For being a writing book for writing Christian fiction, I remember think there wasn’t a lot about Christianity in it. Where it mostly comes up is in the motivation of your writing and whether or not to use profanity in your writing and how creepy you should get. But, the examples it gives on how to get the point across without full out swearing or being gory, was spot on and insightful.

A great resource to have on your shelf to strengthen your writing and grow in your skill.

The Witch’s Cat: Origins

If you read the Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales anthology, you are probably familiar with my short story, “The Witch’s Cat” (it’s okay if you’re not). Since writing that story, I’ve thought about the origins for Vivienne and Onyx. So this year for Halloween, I wrote the story when these two first met. I hope you enjoy seeing how these two characters met and if you would like to read more about them and other cat stories, consider picking up the anthology. I enjoyed coming back to these characters and am considering revisiting them next year for Halloween too! If you like that idea or enjoy the story, leave a comment below. Without further adieu (and reusing the beautiful mock cover made for my original story), here is “The Witch’s Cat: Origins”. 

***

The Witch's Cat_Kindle Version

The black kitten prowled along the tree branch. The leaves were turning orange and yellow and the oaks were becoming sparse providing little cover for hunting. Still, the kitten crept quietly up behind the blue bird. Its bright coloring the perfect target. Inches behind its tail, the bird chirped and fluttered its wings as it took off. As the wings swung back, they battered the kitten in the face and knocked him from the branch. He fell into a pile of brown leaves, several of which shot up when the kitten landed.

Slowly lifting his head from the pile, a brown leaf delicately balanced on top, the kitten glares out at you as his green eyes seem to glow. Don’t laugh at me.

Shaking the leaf from his head, he sprang from the leaf pile and trotted farther into the forest, forgetting the indignity of falling.

A meaty scent wafted by his nose. His whiskers twitched. It was nothing like he had ever smelt before. Following the sent through the trees, he discovered an unusual structure. It was a small cottage made from four large trees growing and knitted together to form the walls while branches whose leaves were still green and full, created a tight, waterproof roof. The windows were still made of glass at least. It was nothing like he’d seen in the village.

Jumping up onto a pumpkin, the kitten peaked in through a window. On the other side sat three girls wearing pointed hats and long dresses, each one stirring a large, black cauldron. Small tables sat beside each girl which were filled with various bottles. The girls would occasionally pick through the bottles and pour its contents into the cauldron. A tall woman slowly walked around them, checking their work.

A corner was broken at the base of a window. The smell was strongest there so the kitten flattened himself out and stretched himself through. He came out on a shelf filled with more bottles just before one of the cauldrons. The steam from floated to him. It smelled heavenly.

“Well done, ladies,” the woman said and moved on to the tiniest of the girls who was just in front of him. Leaning over her cauldron, she breathed deeply. Then coughed. “Keep trying, Vivienne.”

The other two girls giggled. Vivienne picked up a book and flipped a page, glancing between the table and the book as she shifted through the bottles. Picking up a bottle, it slipped from her hand and shattered on the floor.

The other two girls stifled laughs behind their hands.

Vivienne stared at the broken remains as the liquid soaked into the dirt floor. When she glanced at the other girls, they turned their heads and continued to stir their cauldrons with smug grins.

The kitten twitched his tail. Crouching low, he wove his way around the bottles and over the other girls’ cauldrons. He sniff the scent wafting up to him before walking over to Vivienne’s. The scent was just a bit off. Poking his nose as each bottle, he examined each one. There it was. The missing scent stood in a tall bottle just in front of Vivienne’s cauldron. The bottles clinked as he moved forward.

Vivienne glanced and gasped as she caught sight of him.

With a swipe of his paw, the kitten knocked over the bottle, spilling the cap and all the contents into Vivienne’s cauldron.

Plumbs of smoke wafted up and out of her cauldron in waves, billowing down, obscuring the floor. Vivienne’s mouth dropped open as a smile spread across her face. The other two girls didn’t seem as pleased.

“Vivienne, I’m impressed.” The older woman walked over to her cauldron and examined the concoction. “Most witches take years to find the courage to create such a strong version of this potion.” She took a deep wife of it. “And to do it so well.”

Vivienne smiled.

The woman glanced at the other two girls’ cauldrons. “You could learn something from Vivienne.”

One of the girls tossed her spoon across the cauldron and sat back with her arms crossed.

Watching the older woman wondering off and seeing the other girls were distracted by their work, Vivienne leaned over to the shelf and picked up the kitten. Settling him in her lap and stroking his black fur, she leaned close to him. “Did you fix my potion?”

“Meow.”

Vivienne lifted him up and turned him about. “Black as an onyx and eyes as green as emeralds. Hmm.” Then she smiled. “I think I will call you Onyx.” Placing him back in her lap, she stirred her potion.

Onyx purred as she petted him, the meaty fumes from the large, white puffs flowing from the cauldron surrounding them, he slightly closed his eyes and thought that this was going to be the start of a very interesting adventure.

***

That is the end of the story for now. If you enjoyed it or want to read more original stories, let me know in the comments. I hope to have another story up in November but I’m having a little trouble with it. I also want to post another original story here for December. Have a happy Halloween and I’ll see you next time.

The Story of a Flag

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Graphic from History Daily, https://historydaily.org/us-flags

I read a novelization of Betsy Ross when I was a kid. It was biographical but read like a novel with dialogue and events happening as if you were living her life with her. You might be asking, “Who is Betsy Ross?” Betsy Ross is attributed as the designer of the American Flag.

At the time she designed her flag, America did not have fifty states hence why the flag has gone through several different designs. But the main thought and idea of it is still there. It might have been simplified for kids, but there was something in there that stayed with me. In that novelization, she said something that I still remember after all these years. I’ll have to paraphrase, but she said that a flag is the page of a history book.

Each flag tells a story of the country it represents. This has always made me wonder about the stories behind other flags. Why the straight, solid colors of Russia’s or France’s flags? Why all white with a big, red circle for Japan? Britain’s? I kind of have an idea for Mexico. And don’t get me started on the flags for each state (at least I know a little of the story for Minnesota’s). Maybe that is my writer’s side. Wanting to know the story.

This 4th of July, it makes me wonder, do you know the reasoning and the story our flag tells? While I won’t be able to tell it as well as others could, I can clue you in on some of the facts. The 13 red and white stripes represent the 13 colonies that first came to America. The white stars represent the current number of states (hence the change of this area through history). Today, there are fifty stars. I’ll let you investigate the color meaning. And while you’re at it, why not learn a little bit about Betsy Ross. If I remember correctly, she was interesting.

Welcome…

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Welcome! Hope you enjoy browsing around the site. Here you’ll find what I’m currently working on, posts on writing and other topics, and, I’m hoping, some original short stories. Also, here about other authors and some book reviews. Feel free to also follow me on Facebook. I hope to share more about my writing and what I’m doing know in a future post so keep checking back.