Now Available on Amazon!

I am very excited to share this blog post.  Antiquity’s Gate: Sanctuary has been released into the wild! I have beside me one of the very first copies, and it looks amazing.  If you want to check it out for yourself, it can be found here in paperback and ebook format.  If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read the ebook for free!

As a celebration of this exciting event, I am also going to make the first chapter of Sanctuary available here on the blog, so you can get a little taste.  Stay tuned for that in just a bit!

Thank you very much for sharing this journey with me.  I can’t wait to hear what you think of this first installment, and if you need me in the meantime, I’ll be working on book 2!

Throwback Thursday—The Great American Eclipse

Did you get to experience the Great American Eclipse in August?  My family and I took a road trip to Tennessee and camped out to view it in all its Glory.  It ended up being one of the most awesome two minutes of my life, and something I am so thankful we got the opportunity to do.  Neither words nor pictures can describe the way those few moments of totality made me feel, but here is my weak attempt at describing the day, as written directly afterward.

The temperature dipped markedly, and the cicadas’ songs quieted, replaced by the excited chatter of a hundred families, all eagerly awaiting the big moment. Rows of cars lined the parking lot, dotted with license plates showing just how many people were brought together for this event. People passed us, stealing glances of the shrinking sun from behind protective glasses. Children let out gasps of delight as they searched the sky until the crescent appeared through their lenses. For many, this would be a once in a lifetime event.

An hour and a half after the first sliver of sun disappeared behind the moon, the park reached a fever pitch. Voices rose as families gathered their children from the playground, calling them together, passing out their glasses. We tried to find a good spot for a picture, but instead settled for a park bench at the last moment.

There was a moment of awed silence as the world was suddenly plunged into darkness. People took off their glasses to stare at the surreal spectacle above. Then people began crying out in astonishment. Gasps and whoops and clapping filled the park. For two and a half minutes, a ring of delicate rays of light were all the evidence there was that the sun was indeed still in the sky.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over.

If you, too, experienced this amazing event, I would love to hear your thoughts on it as well!

A(nother) Pravacordian Nursery Rhyme

How long did it lay, in the ice tucked away,

That silent traveler from space.

Alone, without sound, it hid in the ground,

Content in the snow’s cold embrace.

 

Till upon it they stumbled, so awed and so humbled,

So eager its secrets to find.

If they only had known, they’d have left it alone,

But their greed, it had made them all blind.

 

That which slumbered, now woken, with wonders unspoken,

Took root and continued to thrive.

How could they have guessed, they’d have left it to rest,

If they’d known what they had was alive.

 

It confused and confounded, intrigued and astounded,

And still they continued to pry.

How they’d fret, what regret, when they realized that,

It was death.  It was death from the sky.

Tick, Tock.

Progression on the final stages of Antiquity’s Gate, Sanctuary seems to have lapsed into slow motion.  It has become a back and forth between me and the editors, each new tweak adding to the vibrant fabric of the story.  The final draft is quickly transforming into a finished product, and I could not be more excited to share it with you.  But alas, just a little longer, my friends.

I am, in the meantime, countless cups of coffee and seven chapters deep into novel two, which has been progressing at a satisfying clip.  As much as I would like to share tidbits pertaining to the story, I will withhold them, at least until you’ve had a chance to read the first one!  I have a strong feeling that once you’ve finished Sanctuary, you’ll be thankful that I got a head start on the second volume.

The world around Antiquity’s Gate keeps expanding, and I find myself sitting down, unable to write some days.  Not because it feels forced, or I have no ideas.  Instead, it’s because there’s simply so much that I feel almost overwhelmed at the awesome and humbling task set before me.  It is my joyful duty to diligently record, for your reading pleasure, the places, lives, and lore of this story.  I do not take the responsibility lightly!  For now, I shall continue to forge ahead, and keep you updated as I do.

And the Beat Goes On

It’s true, isn’t it?

 

I woke up this morning feeling wretched.  My eyes were crusty, and it felt like someone had poured glue in my mouth while I slept.  I was sore all over, and cold despite a heap of blankets.  And yet, as they say, the beat goes on.  Life continued happening around me even though all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and hide.  Children still were dressed and fed, work still got done, and, of course—coffee still got poured.  Okay, not gonna lie.  That happened first.

A story is no different.  Characters face difficult, even crippling, situations, and yet their reality still continues, steadily marching the plot along and pulling them, kicking and screaming, perhaps, with it.

This is one of the things I particularly enjoy in a story.  Putting yourself in your character’s shoes, imagining how you would feel if it were you dealing with a loss, or an injury, or a terrible choice.  Time will keep moving, regardless of what’s happened.  How do your characters cope?  Denial?  Reckless behavior?  A new sense of purpose? A change of heart?

But sometimes, imagining what you yourself would feel (or hope to feel) is not the answer.  You are not your character, after all.  Are your personalities similar?  If every character in your story resembles yourself, you may want to go back and try again.  There are infinite types of personalities out there, and if everyone were the same it would most likely make for rather a dull read.  Not only is it an important decision figuring out how you would have them proceed, but it’s equally important that it’s fitting given everything your reader knows about this character.  In order for their reaction to this cataclysmic event to be believable, you must have a strong base that would suggest that this is, indeed, a plausible response.  As you write, explore the options and be open minded.  You don’t want to end up defending a weak response later on.

On Halfsies.

As you may already be aware, Felix is a fictional character from Antiquity’s Gate.  He is a major player, and someone with whom, should you read the book, you will become closely acquainted.  He is a fun-loving, joke-cracking, fiercely loyal Halfsie.

Hold up.  What’s a Halfsie?

In the world of Antiquity’s Gate, a Halfsie is the result of interbreeding between Humans and Elves.  Despite this slang term for this small but important group of people, these are not necessarily Half-Human, Half-Elven persons.  The name has extended in use through the generations to include any non-pure blood people, including those with a Halfsie and a Human parent, an Elven and a Halfsie parent, or two Halfsie parents…you get the idea.

Generally shunned as second-class citizens, Halfsies are surprisingly resilient.  Felix, in particular, has seen more than his share of hard times, but has managed to become who he is in spite of, and perhaps also because of, how he has been treated.

Sanctuary, with a population ten thousand strong, has a relatively small Halfsie population of a few hundred or so.  Yet they should not be ignored, or underestimated.  Sure, there is strength in numbers.  But that is not the only source of strength…is it?

 

Branching Out

Having just finished an invigorating round of adding changes on the Antiquity’s Gate manuscript, and whilst awaiting further revisions from others, I thought this might be a good time to share some of my thoughts on editing for any of my fellow writers that have found their way here.

Editing, a crucial element to any good story, is difficult.  In the beginning, when you first finish writing and hand it off eagerly to third parties for their feedback, it sometimes can seem like a personal affront when their constructive criticism comes back.  However, you shouldn’t take it as one!  Constructive criticism is vital to a story that people can immerse themselves in.  One misspelled word, one convoluted, hard to read sentence, is enough to jar them out of a state of suspended disbelief.  What about that small but glaring plot hole you missed?  Or that phrase that you use far too repetitively?  Imagine rushing to try to publish something full of such errors.  You want their reading to be smooth, easy, and most of all—enjoyable.

Under no circumstance should you attempt to single-handedly edit your story.  There are several glaring reasons why, as the author, you are uniquely UNqualified to do so.  For one thing, if you have tendencies toward a certain grammatical error, you aren’t going to notice it as you’re reading through.  I, for one, use entirely too many commas when I’m writing quickly.  Oh, great.  Now you’re looking back through this post and nodding to yourself.  “She’s right,” you’re thinking.  “That’s a lot of commas.”

You’ve also got much too much invested in the story to be a credible source of information.  You know the characters and the environments too well to be able to immediately spot problems.  Perhaps you’ve failed to describe a relationship between two characters, and your readers are left wondering how the two have anything to do with one another.  You know, in your head, how they are related.  You may not see the lack of written evidence of said relationship when you’re reading through.

There are dozens more reasons why editing on your own is simply a bad idea.  Certainly, you should go over your work.  You want to write, and rewrite, until you have as polished a draft as you can possibly create.  You want to take some time away from it, so it isn’t so fresh, and then return to rewrite some more.  Ask yourself hard questions about what any given passage adds to the story—if anything.  And, when it feels complete, hand it off to someone else.  I guarantee that you’ll be shocked when it gets back to you, all marked up with red.  You’ll read through the comments and think to yourself, “How could this be?  How could I have missed so much?  Maybe I should give up on writing all together!”  You agonize over each change, contemplating them as you painstakingly work your way through.  Satisfied at last, you hand it off to someone else—

Who has discovered an entirely different set of issues.

Don’t worry, my friend.  You aren’t alone.  Everyone needs the invaluable input of others in order to craft a finished product that they can be proud of.  Don’t rush the process.  Instead, try to enjoy it!  Be thankful for all those willing to take the time and effort to help, whether they are an objective acquaintance, a paid professional, or both.  Preferably both. 🙂

 

Who is Ripley Prior?

In the not so distant future, mankind has been brought to the brink of extinction…and to the brink of the world.  Ripley Prior, our protagonist, is a mid-level, pencil-pushing worker in Sigil, the authoritarian power that rules over Santuary, a domed city located in Antarctica.

Ripley has always dreamed of being an Engineer, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Those jobs are always reserved for the Elves, who have the longevity and know-how to run the city without the need for the help of Human wannabes.  Day after day, he records numbers from vital system gauges, wishing he had the ability to do more with his life.

Ripley’s best friend, Felix, is an unmotivated Halfsie (half-Human, half-Elf).  He’s the one who is always stirring up trouble, which inevitably involves Ripley.  But when our story begins, his benign shenanigans give way to something much more ambitious…

 

A Pravacordian Nursery Rhyme

The children ran along the shore,
The sea rose up to greet them.
“Take care, beware, don’t linger there!”
Their elders did entreat them.

The sun shone down, the sand was warm,
Their words rang out, beguiling.
It seemed a dream, so right and clean,
What could the sea be hiding?

A step they took, into the surf
No fear found in their hearts.
So free, to be, upon the sea,
To never be apart.

Into the gentle froth they dove,
The sea rose up to greet them.
Too late, that’s that, no turning back,
The sea rose up to eat them.

The Things I Do for Coffee.

This morning, I headed to the kitchen, where my MoccaMaster was waiting for me, calling out.  I went through the motions almost subconsciously.  Fill the reservoir, grind the Death Wish (that’s a coffee, by the way.  More precisely, THE Coffee.), and grab the box of environmentally-friendly bamboo coffee filters…

Only there were no filters.  My children, bless their tiny, chaos-loving souls, had made a pot of coffee yesterday afternoon…and not only neglected to share that they’d used the last filter, but also went ahead and put the empty box back on the shelf.

You see, I’m past all that denial nonsense.  I know I have a problem.  Coffee doesn’t give me the jitters, or have any noticeable effect on my energy levels.  It isn’t something I do in the morning because it’s a nice, relaxing ritual.  Most mornings, I am fighting off tiny beings with varying levels of actual need, just to take a few delicious sips.  But if there is no coffee, I get a little anxious.  Okay, a lot anxious.  I spend entirely too much time, when we are going somewhere, wondering how and where I will get my next fix.  I believe water was created as a vehicle for coffee.  So now what?

Coffee does not enhance my writing process–it is my writing process.  And, more notably, perhaps, it is my favorite non-sentient thing in all the world.  If there is a coffee in my hands, iced, hot, espresso, doesn’t matter…I can just tell that everything will be all right.

I had to think quick.  I remembered our emergency box of dried goods in the basement, which had sat untouched for, oh, a decade or so.  I remembered that, of course, coffee was a vital component of any good emergency kit.  I pulled it out, rummaging through until at last I found it:  A ten pack of vital, life-giving instant hazelnut coffee packets.

“Oh, cute!  Can I try?” my daughter squealed in delight.

“Um, no, you most certainly may not,” I responded, with a wild glint in my eye and a cold, heartless tone in my voice.

Was it delicious?  Not really.  Did it sooth my psychological needs long enough for me to get dressed and head to the store for filters?  Yep.

I’m so glad that no one is writing a book about me.  Remember when I talked about the importance of a character’s drive?  I think the amount of coffee drinking scenes in that book would make for a boring read.  Some things just don’t translate, you know?