Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cover Reveal - Three Sleeping Beauties!

Here it is, folks, the day you've all been waiting for. The day that I FINALLY have Sew, It's a Quest on Smashwords - AND PERMANENTLY FREE!!! Oh, isn't that awesome?

Just click over here to pick up your very own, very free copy of Sew - in any file format you'd like!! No longer kindle exclusive here! 

(Am I going to move the rest of my books over to Smashwords? Probably not. I like my KDP Select. But KDP Select wasn't letting me make Sew Permafree.)

Anywho. Click over there, get your free copy, and we can throw a party, yes?

Wait, what's that you're saying? You didn't come here to pick up a free copy of Sew? 

(Seriously, Kendra, you only just put it on a free promotion. Everyone and their DOG ought to have a copy by now.)

Okay, fine, I admit it. I'm being my own stubborn self again. Yes, I know, I know, you're here for a cover reveal. 

I am properly proud of this cover, as I built it all by myself, even drawing that cat and wheel, with a bit of advice from Alea Harper. I tell you what, finding a proper font for the series title and my author name was DIFFICULT. I eventually ended up playing with effects on a font, and I'm quite in love with what I have now. 

About the Book
Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss ... but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

(You guys all already know who I am, so I'm skipping my author info)

This is the only cover that I'm showing off that I didn't design, but I won't hesitate to admit that this is probably the most gorgeous in the line-up. As it's the only one that will be slapped onto an actual physical book, I'm okay with that.

Oh, fun fact here - Morgan almost used the same font for her author name as I DID use for the title on Poison Kiss - Blackadder. I had to use the font by default because it's what's on CinderEddy's cover, so I wasn't copying her. Just ... fun fact. 

About the Book
“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancĂ©, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.

About the Author
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Now this cover ... this cover's headache was more than just the fonts. I actually had my fonts early on. However, I went through two other designs before I finally went with this - a compromise of the two. I'm proud of it, too, though, and proud of my mother for finally getting a book of her own out. Sure, she helped me with Saffron's Big Plan and Tears, Frogs, and Laughter (which I'll be updating with her real name in the near future), but this book is all her. Except for the editing. 

Hang on to your socks, folks, and get ready for a sweet little bedtime story. (And, yes, I AM going to get her to do an audio version soonishly, because that's how she REALLY shines.)

It's sequel - Cynthia Ellen, won't be long in following, so stay tuned for that, too.

About the Book
Once upon a time, way out west...
Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.

About the Author
Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

You can connect with Rachel on her blog, twitter, and Pinterest.

Now, I'm going to go set up a treasure hunt for church tonight. And go to work. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cover Reveal Sign Up!

Hello! So I teased you with a bit of Poison Kiss's cover last week when I revealed the newest Rooglewood Fairy Tale Contest, and I've finally settled on a reveal date of June 21st. And, of course, I need all of your help to do the actual revealing.

And not just me! My good friend, Morgan Elizabeth Huneke, is also releasing her entry for the Five Magic Spindles contest, Twisted Dreams, and my mother decided to jump onto the band wagon with a retelling of her own - Rosette Thornbriar. They will all three be releasing on August 7th, which means that we're revealing all of the covers together.

So just fill out the form below, and it'll be awesome.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cover Reveal - Five Golden Braids

Well, today's the day folks. The day that the cover is revealed for the fourth and final Rooglewood Five Something Something contest. For those of you who don't know, this contest is run by Anne Elizabeth Stengl, author of the Goldstone Woods.

It's been two years since the last contest, and breaths have been bated in anticipation. My own guess for the final tale was "Rapunzel" with runner-ups being "The Little Mermaid" and "Snow White." These were the three remaining "popular" tales that had a princess at its core, which seemed to be the theme of these contests. "The Little Mermaid" however, has a sad ending, and given Rooglewood's request for happy endings, I figured that they'd steer clear of it, and "Snow White" is a tad similar to "Sleeping Beauty" which they'd already done.

So what is it this year? Well, contrary to what I'm trying to lead you to believe with this post's title ... I was wrong. It isn't Rapunzel. However, the book does have the exact title that I knew they'd pick if they did ever do it. A title speculation that was responsible for my Sleeping Beauty retelling of Poison Kiss, which, unfortunately, wasn't finished in time to enter into the actual contest.

(It is finished now, due for release in August, and I'm looking forward to sharing the lovely cover that I spent last week building sometime later this month. I'm quite proud of it.)

Okay, so now that I have a placeholder image in place to throw all of you off and make you click through ... what is the actual cover you ask?

The cover model/photographer: WYNTER CLARK.
Cover design: JULIA POPOVA

Oh, that's gorgeous. As I said, I didn't expect this tale due to it's similarities to Sleeping Beauty (I actually qualify it under Sleeping Beauty in my own fairy tale classification system. That's a post for another day), but while I'm slightly disappointed that we won't be dealing with Towers in this story ... I will admit that Snow White is ripe for interpretation. I just hope that there won't be too many stories with the "brilliant" idea of mixing the tale with Snow White and Rose Red. (I swear, if I see another hackneyed stitching together of those two stories...).

I actually have already started my entry for this year, thanks to my sister. I initially pulled a blank, but when I told her the Fairy Tale, she said she had a terrible idea. Snow White and the Seven Drawers. (She blames this title on her dyslexia). Where Snow White finds a bureau with seven drawers, and each is a portal into another realm that is based on some motif from the fairy tale. I loved the idea, and have run with it. It's going to be awesome and epic, and I just hope that I can keep it under 20,000 words. Currently, I have retitled it to Blanche and the Seven Drawers, but I may change it to The Eighth Realm, depending on its mood. It was supposed to be whimsy but has been evolving into something much more serious. Hopefully, I'll have it done in time to enter, but if not, well, you'll still see it appear on my own bookshelf.

And I'll probably throw a tower in there just to have some fun. I managed to squeak them into both CinderEddy and Poison Kiss, after all.

So, your thoughts? Are you planning to enter the contest? What do you think of my entry? Which of my titles do you think I should choose?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Spotlight - The Secret Slipper

Hey, I just wanted to shout out an awesome new book that released this week. A sweet retelling of Cinderella, you can read my review on the O.Scarlett Blog.

About the Book
Being a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn't even know is searching for her?

Purchase Link

Get “Befriending the Beast”

(Order “The Secret Slipper” by May 26, 2017, to get it at the discounted price of $.99!)
(“Befriending the Beast” Sale: $1.99 on May 25-26, 2017)

About the Author
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda

Also Touring with “The Secret Slipper”
May 25, 2017
Amanda @ With a Joyful Noise | Release Day, Giveaway
Leila @ Leila Tualla's Bookshelf | Spotlight
Faith @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections | Review, Giveaway
Leona @ Great Books for God's Girls | Review, Interview

May 26
Emily @ Zerina Blossom’s Books | Interview
Kendra @ Knitted By God's Plan (Spotlight) and O'Scarlett Reviews (Review) | Spotlight, Review
Alicia @ A Brighter Destiny | Review, Giveaway

May 27
Anika @ This Journey Called Life | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Katie @ His Princess Warrior | Review, Giveaway
Sarah @ The Destiny of One | Spotlight
Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen | Spotlight, Interview, Giveaway

May 29
Kate @ Once Upon an Ordinary | Review, Interview
Sarah @ Penumbra Reviews | Review
Dary @ Peculiar Miss Darcy | Character Interview
Julia @ My Joyful Journey with Jesus | Interview

May 30
Kenzi @ Honey Rock Hills | Review, Giveaway
Anita @ Christian Author: A.M. Heath  | Review
Judith @ JudithWNicholson  | Interview

May 31
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings for His glory  | Spotlight, Review
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae  | Spotlight, Review
Esther @ Purposeful Learning | Review, Interview, Giveaway

June 1
Kellyn @ Reveries Reviews  | Review
Victoria @ Victoria Minks Blog  | Spotlight, Review
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook | Spotlight

June 2
Hanne @ RockandMinerals4Him | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Erica @ Roxbury Books Blog | Spotlight
Janell @ Views from the Window Friend  | Review
Crystal @ Crystal’s Adventures for Christ  | Spotlight, Review, Interview

June 3
Alexa @ Verbosity Reviews  | Spotlight
Faith @ Chosen Vessels  | Review

Melissa @ Clothed with Scarlet | Review, Interview, Giveaway

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Writing Tag

It's been FAR too long since I last did a proper tag (I mean, suuuuure I did the snippet tag back on Christmas, but that was MONTHS ago), so I've stolen this one from Mirriam and Arielle, and let's see how it goes.


Anything high concept, but mostly fantasy. So far, all of my published works have been fantasy, from Fairy Tale mashups, to imaginative allegories, to epic portal fantasy. I do have a Superhero Dystopia in my drafts (need to finish that), and I've been plotting a Sci-Fi retelling of Peter Pan in my sister's Mikada series. 

Typically, Multiple Deep Third, past tense. I like to crack down deep into a person's head, but I don't like to stay in ONE head. I've done first person, when it makes sense for the book.

Let's see ... the big ones:
Trusting in God and His Plan.
Accepting the talents that God gave you.
TRUE love. (As opposed to "True" love.)
Interpersonal relationships
Sibling relationships.


I've been 'writing' ever since I figured out that was what you were SUPPOSED to do with your pencils (rather than using them as puppets and acting out the stories with them). I wasn't serious until I was ten or so, though, and decided to write a 'better' Narnia movie.


Because it's the most socially acceptable thing to do with the stories in my head. It's frowned upon to kidnap people and make them act out my stories on pain of death.


I do about 90% after midnight because I have a BAD habit of procrastination. BAD.


Love: Brainstorming, plotting, acting scenes out in advance, rewriting, editing. 

Hate: FIRST DRAFTS. I mean, they can be fun ... but on the whole? Torture. I mean, having to to actually turn the movie in my head into words? NOT FUN. *Not to mention the fact that I'm a perfectionist, and even though I KNOW I'm going to rewrite the book, I still have to get everything perfect. Yeah.


It depends on how pressed I am to finish the book. If my schedule is lax, then I usually take Writer's Block as my cue to step away from the story for a bit. If it's NaNo ... well, then I'll sit myself down and force myself through the scene. It may not be pretty, but the important part is to get something written.


I am writing book 3.5 of my Bookania Quests for Camp NaNo. I hit 11,000 of my goal of 15,000 last night. It's been taking a slightly different direction than I'd intended, and I'm now expecting closer to 20,000 from the story, to take into consideration this new plot.


“Just what do you think that you’re doing, Pearis?”
Pearis turned to see Robin standing behind her. She arched an eyebrow, snapping the fan shut as she examined her cousin’s wife. “Just what do you think that you’re wearing?”
Honestly, Robin had always been utterly unfashionable when it came to her apparel, but she usually bothered to look nice at balls. At least she wasn’t wearing the leather that she usually did, but a princess shouldn’t wear pants to a ball. Princesses shouldn’t wear pants, period, but that had been a lost battle with Robin.
“My mother’s no longer in charge of my wardrobe,” said Robin, folding her arms over her chest. “Don’t worry, I’ll have a dress at the wedding, as it’s a formal event.”
“And this isn’t?”
Robin gave her head a toss. “That’s why I’m wearing this new outfit that my brother brought me when he arrived this week,” she answered. “Besides, I don’t intend to dance, nor am I here to ensnare the attention of a prince – as you seem determined to do.”
Pearis narrowed her eyes. “Just what does Eric see in you?”
She tried very hard to not notice the exquisite embroidery on Robin’s sleeves and pant legs. The outfit did look very good on her, could even be considered stylish if one squinted hard. If they didn’t notice that she was wearing pants. Bodice and pants were both rich pink, just a few shades softer than her wedding dress had been, with delicate white stitching. The pants were flared at the knee, cut open to reveal pleated white fabric on the sides of her legs. The sword on her belt only served to tie the outfit together.
But, no, Pearis was determined to not notice this. To not notice the confidence, the air that seemed to judge everyone else for their skirts.
“Something, clearly,” Robin returned. “Given that he married me, that’s good enough for me. Now, just what are you doing with that fan?”
“It’s a warm evening,” Pearis pointed out, opening the fan again and giving it a few flutters. She wasn’t about to stand there and explain herself to Robin.
“Don’t fool with me,” said Robin, shaking her head. “I may not be a master of the art myself, but I know that a fan is for flirting." 

I'm also working on writing Love and Memory and Worth of a King. T


I actually wrote these down the other week. Hopefully, I'll get most of these done.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Introducing GiraffeCrafts!


I promised you a new site for Indie e-Con - and here it is.

Just click this image

I'm still working on the main website part of GiraffeCrafts, where I'll be offering services to authors, including:
Cover Reveal Organization
Blog Tour Organization
Novel Critiquing
Basically, this means that I'll read a book for an author and help them identify what they need to do before it's publishable. Not a full-on edit, but I may point out any consistent grammar errors.
Reviewer Recruitment
I don't believe that authors should buy reviews (a post for another day), but, frankly, asking people to review your book can be intimidating. Basically, this will be me playing middle-man. I'm setting up a Netgalley of sorts dedicated to Indie Book so that readers can get good Indie fiction, and authors can get good reviews. There will be a fee to the author, but they are buying my time for FINDING reviewers, not the reviews themselves. And, frankly, it'll be a lower fee than many reviewers charge for their reviews.

And there will possibly/probably be more, but I'm still working through those details (Not sure if I want to toss editing in there. I love editing ... but I tend to take forever on it). Of course, as my audience grows (and I intend for it to grow), I'll be able to offer more features.

For some of these, I'm going to need you guys' help on it. For the Cover Reveal and Blog Tour Organization, I need bloggers, and, of course, I need reviewers for the reviewer recruitment. This week only, joining these teams can enter you for a FREE blog tour planned by moi. (See rafflecoptor giveaway at the bottom of this post!!)

I'm also looking at providing advertisement for editors, artists, cover designers, formators, and other such folk who provide services to Indie Authors. Since I know I'm not a great risk just yet, it'll only be a $3/month fee (via PayPal), but taking advantage of the price will lock you in at this price permanently, even if I do raise it in the future, and you can leave for up to three months without losing this price-lock. Advertising through me will feature you in the main site's services pages with a chance to be featured on the main home page. It will also place you on a short list of companies that I will personally recommend to authors who use my Critiquing service. Email me at if you're interested.

Don't have a website? I'm also looking at hosting other editors/artists/cover designers/etc. directly on my site. This will NOT make you an employee of GiraffeCrafts, and you will have to manage all of your money and tax information yourself. You will merely need to pay a monthly $5 hosting fee (again, via PayPal), BUT only if you made any sales that month.

I'm also in the process of putting together a Goodreads Group for Indie authors, focusing on being a support group for each other.

But for now, the blog.

The GiraffeCrafts blog is dedicated to advice for writing, editing, publishing, and marketing - giving authors tools so that they can make their work worthy of promotion. At the moment, I'm in the process of porting over all writing advice that I have posted on this blog, including me "Tips from a Young Writer" posts and all of the Indie e-Con Articles, so, for the next few weeks, you can expect one to two of those posts to be posted each day until I run out of them.

When I have those exhausted, I have plans, but I'm also open to outside contributors.

The GiraffeCrafts blog will host future Indie e-Cons, so stay tuned for information on that. I'll be writing a post where I address all of the concerns and suggestions brought up in the survey.

If you haven't yet, do consider signing up for the GiraffeCrafts Mailing List to stay up to date on Indie e-Con news and other marketing opportunities.

I also now have a weekly radio show on Eagles Nest Broadcasting where I'll be interviewing authors on Friday nights at 8-9 CST.

I have new social media set up for GiraffeCrafts:

Now, I think that's everything, so, on to the giveaway! As stated, this is for a FREE blog tour. I will (1) set up sign-up forms and graphics if you need them (2) blast your blog tour to my bloggers (and you'll be expected to share it with all of your followers) (3) advise you on posts (4) if you wish me to, handle communication.

You would not be required to redeem this immediately, and will allowed to hang on to it until you need a Blog Tour organized. However, the book promoted MUST comply with the GiraffeCrafts content policy.

Oh, and for the record, for the "comment" option on the giveaway, the comment MUST be on the GiraffeCrafts blog. Any post you wish, but comments on this post do NOT count.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 3, 2017

Character Encounters - April 2017

Okay, first off, yes, Saturday's post was an April fools. There ARE accurate snippets in there, though, I won't say how many or how accurate, though. I will admit to stealing a quote from C.S. Lewis, as well as from Erika Mathew's Promise's Prayer, and a random snippet from Morgan that she'd sent me for me to read and give feedback on. I'm not saying which those were, though, and I don't think either had any spoilers in them. So ... yeah. Thank-you to both of them for being awesome sports.

Anywho, on to the theme of the post.

I told you guys that I'm going to get back into the swing of Character Encounters, so into the swing I'm getting. And I have a great location this time.

Under a Bridge

"Bridge" is open to interpretation. It can be an actual bridge over river, a fallen log across the creek in your back yard, or just an overpass along the highway. And YOU don't even have to be under that bridge. Just your character. Have fun!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Spring Snippets!

Oh, but it's been forever since I last shared a good snippet post. Sure, yes, I've slipped a snippet in here and there, and I did do the snippet tag, but I haven't had a good ol' snippet post.

Also, some of these snippets are for books that I haven't revealed the titles for yet, so to keep you guys on your toes, I'm not going to tell you what books these are from. They're largely from Rizkaland, but I have a number of my other works tossed in here as well.


  “Were you talking to Andrew again?” Rhoda continued. “Honestly, skipping class to talk to your boyfriend isn’t cool, Clara.”
  Clara shrugged. She couldn’t deny it. “He didn’t have time to talk.”
  “I should think not!” Rhoda cried. “Clara, maybe you don’t realize it, but Andrew has a lot of responsibilities to attend to – not only does he have to take care of his younger brothers, but he also manages his dad’s website and does his own school work on top of that. He can’t spend the whole day talking to you.”
  “Oh, hush,” said Kath. “They’re in love. It’s romantic.”
  “Oh yes, and the met all of two months ago,” Rhoda rolled her eyes again. “Now Clara’s a soppy fool who can’t breathe without calling him and is skipping classes. Hang on.” She paused and narrowed her eyes at Clara. “You’re not…”

She turned away. “Very well. It’s best that I show you, then. Just know that you won’t be able to get out of this. Although we could get a mental to wipe your mind, if we absolutely had to. I’d get punished for carelessness, but oh well.”
“Show me what?” William asked. “Wipe my mind?”
“It’s been done before, in rare circumstances,” Roxanne admitted. “Now don’t freak out. I’m going to take you to see my father. Best to ask his permission and all.”
And before he could say anything, she grabbed his wrist, and plunged them into the mountain. Not in the stone itself, like she usually traveled, but she created a small room, just big enough for the two of them, and moved it through. Didn’t want to overwhelm him too much.
“Dad’s in his lair, I can feel him,” Roxanne continued, trying to not focus on him. “One moment and here we are. Stay here while I have a word with him.”
She had bumped them into the hallway near where her father was, so she stepped through the wall, leaving William to panic all by himself.

  Laura gave a firm nod and threw the necklace to the ground.
  A bright light lit the night and the parking lot began to quake. The pavement split and from the earth sprang an ethereal woman. Twenty feet tall, and made of pure light. Her eyes were flaming balls of fire.
  "Hello, Mother," Laura said calmly, even as she tightened her grip on her staff.

One afternoon Alia turned from washing her hands to find Tante staring at her from the couch in the corner. Her eyes were wide open. 
“Alia,” she called softly. 
She approached immediately. 
“I’m dying.” Tante's words were soft. 
“No!” Alia stopped mid-cry, her lips pinching together tightly. She was not to disturb Tante or cause her to exert herself.

  “It isn't Rizkaland, you know," sobbed Clara. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?"
  "But you shall meet me, dear one," said Alphego.
  "Are -are you there too, Sir?" said Andrew.
  "I am," said Alphego. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Rizkaland, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

Robin shook even as she stared up the length of her sword, stared at the man at the other end. For the first time in ler life, she felt fear in a sword fight.
For the first time, she felt fear as she stared into those gray eyes. Eyes she knew so well.
"Eric," she whispered. "Eric, please."
He just blinked. "Who's Eric?"
And then his sword came crashing towards her.

  Reuben started walking, trusting her to follow. There was a room in her house that … while he wasn’t sure that it would prove that she remembered, he suspected that it could prove that she didn’t, if she didn’t. He hoped that she didn’t.
  It was a strange room. According to Laura, it was technically part of Rizkaland, even though it mostly functioned as though it were part of their own world. It was only visible to people who had been to Rizkaland and though he didn’t quite know how it worked, he suspected that if she had truly forgotten, she might not be able to see it.
  They reached it. He took a deep breath and turned back to face Petra. “Do you see it?”
  Her eyebrow arched. “See what?”
  He took a deep breath. “The door. The green one. The one right behind me.”
  “Reuben … there is no door behind you.”

He held her gaze steadily, trying to impart a feeling of hopefulness over the distance. Obsidia stood, lifting the heavy book from the desk, and crossed the study, taking a seat in the chair beside him. She heaved a big sigh.
“Have you found anything yet?”
Adrian sorrowfully shook his head. “I don’t think this book goes far enough back in our history to know if there’s a way around the tradition. How about you?”
“I’m too bogged down in rules and procedures. I never knew we had so many. The Court doesn’t follow the half of them. I keep hoping there’s something in here that will help, but I find nothing.”

She sounded so pitiful and forlorn. Adrian ached to take her into his arms and hold her tight, assure her that everything would be okay. But more than one thing forbade it.

  “Andrew, we … we need to talk.”
  Andrew turned to see Clara standing in the hall behind him. Her expression was tight. “Yes?”
  She took a deep breath and stepped towards him, taking his hand. “I've not told anyone else yet, but I … I think I’m pregnant.”
  He blinked, drawing back. “You…”
  She closed her eyes, leaning into him. “It’s yours, it has to be yours. I’ve not … you’re the only man I’ve ever…”
  “But I’ve … we’ve not … not since coming back.”
  “I know,” she whispered.

Also, how do you like my new cover for Sew, It's a Quest?
I'll be uploading it later next week. Thought it might need a new face now that it's a new edition.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Indie e-Con 2017 Writing Contest Winner - The Sea Near the Moon

Hello, and I'm here today to share the WINNING entry for this year's Indie e-Con Writing Contest! WHOOO!!! This story was written by Camille Esther, and there are two facts that I find amusing about its winning -

1. It was the only entry for its category, which meant that it made it to finalists by default. (Though I did have Claire Banschbach as the judge for the category and she did read it before sending it on.)
2. It was also the first entry that I received for the contest.

The Grand Prize Winner was selected by Aubrey Hansen.

(Oh, and just an aside note. I am working as hard as I can on the new website and blog, but it's turned out to be a bit more intense than I had envisioned, so I'm hoping to have it unveiled somewhere in the middle of next month. Anywho. It's been awesome so far. Finally found a use for my HUGE collection of giraffes.)

Now enjoy, and, Camille, keep up the awesome writing!

Cover by Alea Harper
My eyes shot open, and I was wide awake like I’d just chugged two double-shot espressos. With whipped cream on top. Had someone just shaken me by the shoulders? No? I was still alone in my moonlit room, still comfortably staring at the ceiling with the quilts pulled up to my chin. There was nothing out of the ordinary as far as I could see. Just the pile of semi-clean clothes on the chair by the bed, my desk covered in wires and screens, and one of my old school science projects dangling in the corner—namely a solar system mobile made out of foam balls, which I had developed an emotional attachment to, which kept me from throwing the thing away. My air conditioner hummed in the window at the foot of my bed, blasting me with air so frigid I could almost see my breath.
I took a deep breath to calm that feeling that someone had been standing beside me. There’s nothing the matter so quit freaking out…
 I glared at the 3:09 glowing on the face of my alarm clock then stared back at the plain white ceiling, trying to make my eyelids relax enough to close them again. It was no use. Someone had changed out my regular eyelids for spring-loaded ones. Thanks, eyelid fairy, but I liked my old ones better.
Time to count sheep. I had four more hours to go before I had to jump out of bed, hit the alarm clock, snarf a pop-tart and drive to my dream job. Oh, and I had to fit getting dressed into the lineup as well. Didn’t need any nightmares playing themselves out in real life.
Yep, I was living the dream job. Straight out of college into a high-dollar computer technician position—oh yeah, baby! After two years of direct deposit, I could count dollar signs instead of sheep. And there was my Lexus out back, and my espresso maker in the kitchen, and my custom-built Mac with Photoshop and Dragon NaturallySpeaking on it. Oooh, and my drone…
The air seemed suddenly cooler and cleaner than before. I sniffed. The air was almost crackling with some kind of icy energy, some kind of excitement, like it was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring… You get the idea.
The moonlight flooding my room even seemed brighter.
As I lay there in comfort, wondering why the world seemed so alive and poised like it was waiting for something, I heard a tiny tinkling sound, like crystal gently touching crystal. Or maybe the sound ice cubes or snowflakes make when they talk to each other. My cat prowling the house?
As I looked around the room, I heard a creaking sound, and suddenly to my horror I beheld my solar system mobile slowly beginning to spin on its own.
On its own, mind you. No strange drafts in the room, no cats batting at it. It moved. By itself.
My hair prickled to attention and I sat up. When I beheld a figure sitting in my window, my heart almost jumped clean out of my chest.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?” I shouted, leaping out of bed.
Great. My intense vocalization should have made any intruder jump, but the figure didn’t flinch. I saw it was a young boy; maybe ten? I stared at him, huffing deep breaths of pure panic. He was just sitting there in my now open window, lit by the moon, gazing at me. How had he gotten there without me hearing him?
“What is the matter?” he asked. His voice was so feminine I needed to re-evaluate my first impression of him—or her, whichever it was. Its hair didn’t help, being a sort of gender-neutral mass of curls. And his or her clothes consisted of what looked like a white knee-length t-shirt with a belt at the waist—just as confusing as the hair.
I was still freaked out, but my panic was subsiding enough for me to think. My phone was downstairs, tethered to a wall socket in its nightly re-charge mode. Too bad phones don’t respond to telepathic “dial 911” commands. But then again, this kid didn’t seem too threatening.
“Um,” I said.
The boy or girl—I’ll just go with “kid”—cocked his head at the sound of my impressive dialogue.
“Um,” I continued. “Are you by any chance Peter Pan?”
Curls bobbing, the kid shook his head.
I cleared my throat. “Then how did you get in my window, which is…” I made a quick guess, “eleven feet above the ground?”
The kid shrugged. “I flew.”
Weird kid. Probably enjoyed breaking into people’s houses for a hobby. At night. Super freaky. He’d probably lifted the ladder I’d seen leaning against the house next door. Maybe I should call the police.
“Sooo, what’s your name?” A name would come in handy when informing the proper persons.
The kid beamed at my question. He puffed out his chest. “I am The Keeper Of The Sea Near The Moon.”
Oookay. Strange delusion. “No, like, your name,” I said.
“That is my name.”
“Your parents call you that?” I said sternly.
He cocked his head again and looked up at the moon outside my window. “I don’t have any parents,” he said softly. “At least, not like you mean when you say parents.”
I tried again. “Where do you live?”
“In the sea near the moon,” came the answer, short and sweet.
I was running out of questions. Apparently this kid was either sleep-climbing into people’s windows, in which case he needed help, or he was mentally unsound, in which case he…needed help. Either way, it was time to make a call. I edged toward my bedroom door.
The kid stirred. “I am here to show you,” he announced in a confident tone.
“Um, why don’t you come on in,” I said. “I don’t want you falling out the window on me. We can go into the kitchen and get some…hot chocolate, or something.”
The kid hopped down onto my bed and bounced to the floor, holding out a hand like he expected me to take it. Gingerly I reached out and made contact.
His hand was cold. Not just cool skin like he’d been out in the night, I mean cold. Freezing. And what was worse, his touch sent electrical prickles up my arm and down my spine, followed by a mountain range of goose bumps. I tried to fling his hand away, but his grip was like a pit bull in a fight.
“WHAT ARE YOU?” I shrieked, going right back into panic mode. Demonic? Angelic? X-men? Please God let me be dreaming!
The kid’s voice came gently through the sound of my heart doing the drum symphony number 2 in A major—as in, A Major Bad Occurrence. It took me a minute, but I heard what he said. “I told you already, I’m The Keeper Of The Sea Near The Moon.”
With that statement, he bodily dragged me (more than twice his weight) across the bed to the window. I pinched myself. This is a dream. It has to be. This is way too weird to be real.
“Just hold on,” the kid smiled at me.
Right, like I could let go even if I wanted to. I braced myself for what looked like it was going to be a Very. Strange. Dream. My panic faded to an awe at how weird my subconscious could be. When the kid pulled me through the window and began to fly, drawing me behind him in the clear, wonderful night air, I was hardly surprised. My guess of Peter Pan hadn’t been far off.
In amazement I stared at the moonlit ground flowing beneath me, sprinkled with shimmering lights like a flock of fireflies. Then I could see a mountain range in the distance, full of shadows, and then the ocean far beyond, its reflective surface silver. A light breeze stirred my hair, far too soft and sweet for the speed at which we were moving.
Yes, this dream was coming along nicely; my counting dollars must have worked. I rolled over onto my back and stared up at the stars and the moon. Slowly my thoughts turned back to the dollars I’d been counting. What was I going to do with them? I could buy a second home on the beach. Or I could invest in the stock market and watch my profits skyrocket. Maybe I could join the millionaires by the time I was thirty. To do that, I would probably need to start my own highly lucrative business. I’d have high-profile customers galore, profits off the charts, about a million boring meetings every day, espresso coffee every hour just to keep me going…
I looked up at the moon again. It was huge, a vast sphere hanging over me like a white version of the death star. I rolled over en flight and looked toward the ground again. Sucking in my breath, I saw the entire circle of the earth—continents, clouds, everything.
“How are we even breathing?” I asked aloud.
My hand was still attached to my Peter Pan friend. I looked his way, not sure if he would answer or not. He smiled at me. “We are almost there,” he said.
“The sea near the moon,” I muttered. Weird. Did he mean, like, water? I looked around, searching the vast space around me for our destination. I spotted it. A faint bluish-green hue like some kind of nebula or aurora. Presumably, this was the sea.
A minute later, I found my presumption was correct, for with a rushing sound like a flock of starlings taking off we entered the Sea. It was cool and wet like a thick cloud. At first I wasn’t sure if I could breathe in it, but then I remembered it was just a dream.
Several feet in, the Peter Pan character slowed to a halt and dropped my hand. The Sea supported me much like real water would. Treading water was my only real skill when it came to swimming—I put it to good use and found that I could easily float wherever I liked. Cool.
“This is The Sea Near The Moon,” the kid told me.
“So this is where the DreamWorks kid goes fishing,” I quipped.
The kid cocked his head. Now that we were in his home territory, he didn’t seem so human. The white light of the moon seemed to go right through him instead of reflecting, giving him an eerie ghost-like look. “Dreamworks?” he said. “No. This is where dreams go when they die.”
My attempt at humor was quelled by the mention of death. Ulp. “The ghost of Christmas… Something or other,” I muttered. Apparently my subconscious had a malicious sense of humor. Too many Christmas seasons watching A Muppet Christmas Carol, and now when I entertain a Scrooge-like habit, like counting dollars, I have dreams of being shown around by strange ghostly beings.
A speck of brilliant light floated in front of my face, radiating strands of light in shimmering gold. Okay, Scrooge contemplation over; time to gawk at something new. “Wow, what is it?” I said, awed.
Peter Pan ghost of Christmas Dreamworks kid hovered over my shoulder. “Touch it and see,” he offered.
Well it was just a dream, so it couldn’t hurt, right? I reached out and let the speck of light rest in the palm of my hand. It was warm. Golden light radiated out and lit up the blue-green sea around me, like a holograph that was literally all around me. And there was sound. Faint and distorted so that I could barely catch a word every now and then, but it was enough to make the scene seem real.
A child, a little girl, danced on the grass before me, her hair flowing out and her eyes and teeth bright.  I could feel the breeze, and see the leaves of a maple tree overhead. There was a house not far away, a typical seventies era American dwelling, and other children running around in the background, their screams of laughter faintly reaching my ears.
“Mommy, look at me. See how high I can jump.” I half heard the words, half read the girl’s lips. I looked behind me and saw the mother smiling and nodding. Her hairdo was as outdated as the house. I felt like a sore thumb, standing in the middle of the scene in only my pajamas.
“Can they see us?” I asked the Dreamworks kid.
“No,” came the comforting answer. “This is only a dream that has died.”
The scene changed. Suddenly I was in the middle of a church, judging by the stained glass windows and the cross on the wall. I was standing on the stage, right next to a bride in a wedding. The guests were smiling, the bride was smiling and blushing, and I could hear the faint droning sound of the pastor officiating. A rustle of a program paper in the front pew caught my attention, and I turned to see two middle-aged ladies, one plump and one thin, their beaming wrinkles touched with rouge, their hats full of flowers.
Again I could only halfway hear the words, but the visual helped me construct what the plump one said. “How lovely she looks, standing there!”
“Strange material for a dream,” I muttered as the scene faded.
“Hush! It isn’t finished,” the Dreamworks kid told me.
Another scene unfolded before me: a man and a woman, the same as had been getting married in the last scene, walking together down a sidewalk in an urban area. They were smiling and laughing, and the birds were chirping in the trees that lined the road beyond them.
When that scene ended, others came. They seemed to all be the normal life of a woman; hardly the thing of dreams.
The scenes stopped coming, and the holograph retreated into the warm speck of light.
“I don’t get it,” I said.
My ignorance sparked a wide-eyed look of horror on the Dreamworks kid’s face. “Don’t you see?” he blurted. “She couldn’t walk. She wanted so badly to be able to play like other children, to be able to stand for her wedding, and to take walks with her husband and do all the things normal people do. But she couldn’t.” The kid paused to pant for breath. Such seriousness on the face of a child would have been laughable if I hadn’t been struck sober myself.
“That dream,” the kid continued. “That dream died. She never walked.”
“Oh,” I managed.
Silently my dream guide turned and walked onward through The Sea. Dazed by reality, I paddled after him. More flecks of golden light floated past me, but I did acrobatics to avoid touching them. Seeing other people’s dreams unfulfilled was not on my Christmas list. Guilt tugged uneasily at my heart, but I pushed it away. It wasn’t like I could help whose dreams came true or not. Not my fault I had a dream life and a ton of money.
Besides, all this was a figment of my imagination… I hoped.
A fish swam past me, almost luminescent gold. Wait! A fish? “Ha, you really do go fishing here!”
The kid turned and smiled. “Oh, that is a dead dream, too.”
“Uh huh,” I smirked. “Then how come it looks like a fish? All the other ones look like lightning bugs.”
The boy looked up at the moon and sighed. I could have sworn I saw an eye roll. “It is so hard to communicate with you humans sometimes! I’ll put it in your terms: that is an extinct fish. It no longer lives on the earth.”
I scratched my head. “I thought you said it was a dead dream.”
“It is!” The boy waved his arms in what appeared to be exasperation. His translucent curls bobbed vigorously. “Don’t you see? It was one of God’s dreams. He made it, and it faded into nothing. A dream, once living, now dead.”
“So, like, there are dinosaurs in here too?” Curiosity struck me.
“There are,” the kid nodded.
“Can I see some?”
“Very well, if that is your wish.” The Dreamworks kid turned and walked toward our left.
I swam after him, eager to see the creatures that had consumed much of my childhood interest. The specks of light grew thicker the further I swam. Clouds of them sprang up as the Dreamworks kid walked, like dust stirred up with a passing breeze. Try as I might, I could not avoid the swirling eddies of dreams. I tried batting them away, but that was a useless gesture. The sea around me lit up with flashes of gold every time one touched me. Whispers of sound from a hundred dreams assaulted my ears.
Dancing. A friend. Peace. Mount Everest. Freedom. Discovery. Property. Family. Music. The essence of each dream touched my mind.
Love. Architecture. The sea. Recognition. Giving. A home. Respect. Farming. Innovation.
Golden arms and legs shot past me, belonging to dancers, racers, people swinging hammers and riding horses and hauling in sails, building cathedrals, working metal, leading armies, feeding children and planting crops. Faces flashed around me from every nationality, age, and time period. I saw Spanish skirts, ancient Egyptian clothing, African tribal garb, Victorian dresses and modern t-shirts. The sounds hissed and whispered and rose to a continuous chatter like a flock of birds. The whirlwind was dizzying; the flashes of the holographs hit me like strobe lights until I was so overwhelmed I could barely see where I was going.
And all these visions were things that had never come to pass in the lives of those who had dreamed those dreams. The unfulfilled desires of a thousand heart-cries flowed through my soul. I couldn’t contain it. I felt like I was drowning in wave after wave of the cumulative desires of the centuries.
“Dreamworks kid!” I wailed from the midst of a hundred thousand dreams. “I mean, Keeper of the Sea! Where are you?”
Against the sea of writhing gold, my childish guide suddenly appeared. “Take my hand,” he said.
This time without any qualm I grabbed hold of his ice-cold death-grip and let him tow me through the millions of dreams. I squinched my eyes shut tight to block out the blinding barrage of golden light but no amount of curling up in the fetal position could save me from the massive heartache that was the unfulfilled desires of the entire world. If I hadn’t known better, I would have honestly believed that I was the one who had always wanted a family. I would have believed that I was the one that had never had a home, had never seen the sea, or been able to walk.
This dream was a nightmare!
“We’ve got to save them!” A man’s voice said with stunning clarity.
“We must save them!” a woman’s voice spoke. I flinched.
“We have to save them!” a hundred cries took up the refrain. I had a sense that this was not just a save the whales rally.
Great. Just great. The heart wrenching cry of people desperate to save them (whoever them was) was going to make me flip out and start bawling. The cry echoed around me again and again, and I curled up tighter and tighter, clenching my teeth to keep from wailing along with them.
Then suddenly there was silence. Even behind my shut eyelids, I could tell that the light show had stopped. The Sea was silent. I opened one eye a crack. Whew! Dreamworks kid had pulled me out of the cloud of dreams and was towing me onward. I opened both my eyes.
But I couldn’t forget what I’d seen and heard and felt. I was sober now. My own existence, honestly, felt kind of, well, measly compared to the intense desires of all these people whose dreams had never been fulfilled. And the haunting cry of “we must save them” was still echoing through me. Save who? Evidently they had never been saved, whoever they were. Somewhere in the world were a million graves belonging to people who had evidently been mourned.
My dinosaur was all but forgotten when Dreamworks kid broke the silence with “Ah, here is one of the creatures you wished to see.”
Dreamworks kid let go of my hand. There in front of us was a golden Stegosaur, large as life, looking like a tranquil antique statue with ornate gold patterns on its sides, and of course the golden plates sticking out of its back. It was floating contentedly in what looked like a school of…babies?
Yes, babies. I wasn’t much of a baby person, but in my emotionally drained state I had to admit that the scene was pretty cute. Babies were floating all around the golden Stegosaur, laughing and squealing, their chubby little arms and legs waving all over the place. There must have been a hundred of them.
The nearest baby swam right up to me and grinned a toothless adorable grin. I was surprised. It acted like it could really see me. Should I smile back? Oh well, it couldn’t hurt.
“Sooo, this must be…” I made an educated guess, “the dream of some couple who couldn’t have kids?”
To my surprise, my guide shook his curly head. “No.”
“Then where did he come from?”
My guide motioned toward the baby. “Why don’t you ask him?”
My eyes went back to the happy baby floating in front of me sucking his fist. With a shock, I realized his eyes were blue—not the standard holographic gold. Such big, innocent eyes staring at me while he gummed away at his fist. I swallowed, realizing this was going to sound a lot like Dory the fish talking to a random floating being.
“Hey there, little fella,” I croaked. “Where do you come from?”
The baby pulled his hand out of his mouth and grinned so big his eyes crinkled up. I half expected to hear the holographic whisper, but his voice was clear. It was just as babyish as could be, except real words came out instead of gurgles.
“I come from the earth.”
Duh. I tried again. “Yes, but how did you get here?”
The little fellow looked at me, his cute smile melting to a quivering lip. His eyes looked like they were about to start pouring out tears. “I never got to see the world,” he whimpered.
“Trust me,” I said, hoping to forestall a deluge of baby tears, “the world isn’t always such a great place.”
Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. Slowly the little guy’s face screwed up in the most pitifully sorrowful baby cry I had ever heard. His little arms flailed in distress.
Now what?
“Nobody wanted me!” the baby sobbed.
His words cut me to the heart. Here I was, faced with what I now took to be a sentient dream of God’s, a dream that had died before it was even born, and all the comfort I had offered it was basically “you’re better off having never seen the world.” How arrogant of me! How insensitive. To suppose that I could judge whether another’s dreams were worth pursuing or not.
The baby kept crying. “I could have helped make the world a better place. I could have tried, anyway.” The baby paused, then his face screwed up again, a wail coming on. “I never even got to have a name! No one wanted me!”
The baby’s flailing arms and legs carried him away. I stayed where I was, stunned, the baby’s words ringing in my ears. “I never even got to have a name.” A thing I took for granted. “No one wanted me.” I couldn’t even imagine my parents despising my very existence.
I’d passed the local abortion clinic on my way to work for two years, and though I cringed at the thought of the practice I’d never once realized how devastated the babies were.
No one cared.
No one thought of the dreams these babies might have in the future. They dreamed of love; they dreamed of family; they dreamed of having a name.
They dreamed of life.
A tear made it past the lump in my throat and squeezed its way out my eye. Suddenly I realized the important things in life had nothing to do with my Lexus or my espresso maker or how much money was in my account. Maybe there was something I was missing in my dream life. Maybe I needed to dream bigger.
“Dreamworks kid,” I knuckled the tear out of my eye. “Why did you bring me here?”
Soberly he stared at me in the way only a reproachful child can. “Your dream—it is dying.”
My response was knee-jerk. “What? Are you kidding me? I’m doing what I always wanted to do!”
The kid shook his head. “No, you are not.”
I crossed my arms. Little punk, trying to tell me about my own dreams.
A speck of silver light floated from out of nowhere toward my face. “Oh no you don’t!” I told it, squirming to get out of its way. “If I see one more dream, I’m gonna freak out!”
The speck kept floating towards me as I thrashed away from it. Unfortunately, The Sea was not the easiest thing to move around in. The speck kept getting closer and closer as I got more and more frantic.
“Why are you afraid?” Dreamworks kid asked. “That is your own dream.”
“My dream isn’t dead!” I howled.
“Not yet. That is why it is silver. It is fading. If you do nothing, it will eventually turn to gold.”
I stopped thrashing. The speck floated inches in front of my nose. It seemed to be humming with energy, with expectation that I would touch it. Still I hesitated, not sure what I would see. Could I really have forgotten my own dream?
The humming continued, pulsating like a subwoofer. Fascinated, I reached up and touched the brilliant speck. White light shot all around me in the now-familiar holograph. In a moment I recognized the scene. It was the house I had lived in when I was ten years old. There was my dad’s favorite recliner with the remote lying on the arm. There were the floor-length drapes I liked to hide behind. The window was open, apparently, because I could hear birds singing outside and could see the breeze ruffling the drapes. I could even feel the breeze myself.
On the floor in front of me was an image of my ten-year-old self, fiddling with what was now an ancient cell phone. I remembered that time. Mom’s phone wasn’t working, and I had taken it upon myself to fix it for her, because I had heard Mom and Dad talking about how they couldn’t afford to buy a new one just then. I don’t even know what I did to it—probably the phone realized it was about to join the army of toys belonging to a ten-year-old, and decided it had strength enough to behave for a while longer.
“Look, Mom!” the child figure of myself shouted. “I fixed it!”
The scene started to fade, and I withdrew my hand from the speck of light. A word whispered itself in my mind—service.
Service. I remembered, now. My first encounters with the technological world had been motivated by a desire to help other people. I had found out I was good at helping people with their phones, finding the right cords for computers, and understanding what was going on with every new thing that came out.
But somewhere along the line I had focused instead on the almighty dollar. I looked down at my bare feet, ashamed. Service had been thrown to the wayside, forgotten.
“I see, now,” I whispered.
Dreamworks kid’s face lit up. I’ve never see a kid so overjoyed, except on Christmas morning, of course. “Really?” he exclaimed. “Then you’ll revive your dream?”
I nodded the most solemn nod I’ve ever nodded. “Yes.”
The kid motioned to the silver speck. “Then take it with you,” he said.
How was I going to see where I was going with a holograph playing all around me? I shrugged and grabbed the speck. To my surprise, instead of lighting up the sea around me with images, I felt that same cold electric prickle I had felt when Dreamworks kid had first grabbed my hand. I got goose bumps all over again.
“Um,” was the only word I could say before everything went white. Yes, “um.” Me and my superior communication skills.
For several seconds the white-out continued. When it faded, I was not exactly surprised to find myself standing in my own room again. I looked at the clock. It said 3:58.
As I snuggled back under the covers, yawning, I vaguely wondered if the whole thing was a dream, or if it had really happened. After a moment’s thought, I concluded that it didn’t really matter.

Tomorrow was a new day. Of service.
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