Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 8)

Manchester, England

My thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the bombing last night at the Ariana Grande concert. What happened is a parent’s worst nightmare. It was an attack on not just a soft target but one filled with children and young adults.

I will blog about what happened later, after more facts are known. In the meantime, I light a candle for the lost and dead. I say a prayer for them all and I damn to the deepest depths of Hell all who might have been involved in bringing about this tragedy.

Please tell me it’s no longer Monday

Yesterday was not a great day. One hot water heater replaced. One smartphone decided to go on the fritz. Carpet still soggy. But today will be better. Why? Because the carpet won’t be getting any soggier. The smartphone will be replaced later today — or hopefully it will be an easy fix.  As for the carpets, well, the wet vac is about to come out to play again. Once all that is done, I’ll be able to sit down and hopefully finish Battle Wounds. (In case you missed it, here’s a link to the short snippet I posted yesterday.) Better yet, Cold Reign by Faith Hunter is out today. Yay, new reading!

I’ll be back later, hopefully around lunchtime, with a “real” post. In the meantime, check out my entry at Mad Genius Club.

Until later!

Boy is it Monday

Of course, Monday started yesterday when I stepped into the hallway and the carpet went squish. Like any pet owner, I hesitantly checked to see why my bare foot was now wet and the carpet was making such icky sounds when I walked on it. Relief because there were no “gifts” left for me — not unheard of with two cats and a dog. But then memory of the last time the carpet went squish in that same area flooded — hah! — back and panic began to set in.

There are joys to homeownership but there are downfalls as well. Hot water heater leaks being one of the downfalls. The current hot water heater is 9 years, 2 weeks old. Yes, I looked it up. The actual heater doesn’t look to be leaking but the sheetrock on one side is wet, started about 5 feet up and spreading downward. So, my guess is we have a leak in the line going into the heater.

Sometime between now and noon, I’ll find out for sure. Once I have — and once I have recovered from learning how much that repair will cost — I’ll be back with a real blog post. In the meantime, you guys have a safe Monday morning.

Oh, flu, how I hate thee

Welcome flu, my old friend. This is the first time in quite awhile, years really, when I’ve have a full-blown case of the flu and I am not amused. So, I’m going to link over to today’s Mad Genius Club post. Briefly, don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t writing in the correct manner. Everyone’s process is different. As long as it works for you, don’t worry about it.

Also, don’t forget Dagger of Elanna is available for pre-order and will be released March 15h.

Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2)

Publication date – March 15.

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Wednesday Snippet

It is way too early to be up and — checks watch — I’ve been up more than an hour already, thanks to BratCat. So let’s start the day off with a mug of coffee and a snippet from Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). I know I’ve posted an earlier version of this before but, with the book now available for pre-order, I thought I’d start regular snippets. So, here goes.

Chapter One

A cold wind, as cold as his master’s heart, whipped through the trees, stripping them of the few leaves still clinging to their branches. The moisture in the air felt like knives cutting through his exposed skin. His breath frosted on his beard, making each breath torture. With fingers stiff and swollen, Gareth adjusted the woolen scarf his wife had knitted for him a lifetime ago around his lower face. It might not be much but it was the best he could do for the moment.

If he did not find shelter soon, he feared for his survival. Under normal circumstances, the cold would be no problem for him. A simple spell and he would be as warm as he wanted. A second spell to warn off any predator thinking him easy prey could then follow. Such simple spells, ones even a youngster could master with a little work. Simple the spells might be, but they presented danger he dared not risk. Any magicker nearby would sense the energies being manipulated and that.

And that, he knew, could well lead to not only discovery but to death.

Since he had no desire to die until his very old age, he had only one choice. He had to endure the cold and hope to find shelter soon. Until then, he would ignore the cold seeping into his bones the best he could and pray no wolf, or worse, decided to make a meal of him.

Another gust of wind cut through the trees. Shivering, Gareth pulled his fur-lined cloak tighter around him. Then he reached up and readjusted the scarf wrapped around his lower face. When his good wife pressed it into his hands that last time, he had seen the fear reflected in her eyes. Even without him telling her, she knew they might never see one another again. Nothing he said would have reassured her, so he said nothing. He simply held her close for a moment and then he left, wondering if he would ever return to their comfortable home and the life he’d been forced to leave behind.

By the gods, he would find a way to return, assuming he did not freeze to death first.

He trudged forward, each step carefully placed on the snow-covered trail. Plodding along at his side, the dappled gelding whickered in ill-temper. It shook its head, pulling against the reins. Gareth knew the gelding liked the cold no more than he did. Yet another reason to find shelter before the temperature dropped any further. If he lost the gelding, his days truly were numbered

“Soon,” he soothed as he ran a hand down the gelding’s neck. “We’ll find someplace warm soon.”

As if in answer, mocking and bitter, a gust of wind almost knocked him from his feet. With a curse, he fought for balance. Damn the gods above and below. If only he had not answered the knock at his door a fortnight before. If he had ignored the knock, he would be warm and safe now instead of wondering if the next breath he drew would be his last.

Gareth drew a deep breath, wincing as the cold burned his lungs. He was a fool. Much as he wanted to believe he could have avoided this thrice-damned mission by ignoring the knock at the door, he could not have. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, he had known the summons would one day come. That was the price to pay for practicing the black arts. Blood magic was only part of his repertoire, one that would earn him a quick death should the Imperial courts learn of his activities. But should they ever discover his other talents, death would not come quickly enough.

Still, so many years had passed from that fateful day when the baron offered protection to the night a bare fortnight earlier when his life had been changed and, Gareth feared, not for the better. Years in which he had grown complacent, perhaps even over-confident his master would never call on him and his special abilities. Now he had to pay for those years of protection, no matter what the cost to him or those he cared for.

Slogging through the snow, Gareth knew the chances of successfully completing the task set for him were slim. Otherwise, he never would have been sent for. The baron preferred keeping him and his pets close to hand. Many times over the years, those pets had helped ferret out danger to his master and had brought Gareth rewards like most never dreamt of.

All that paled when compared to the knowledge of what the Baron would do should he fail in his mission, a mission Gareth never would have been forced to accept but for the failure of that bastard’s son, Wolf. Had the Baron asked his opinion sooner, Gareth would have told him not to trust anything so important to a skinwalker. Their kind was well-suited for violence and terror but not for stealth or patience. The bloodlust that marked skinwalkers all too often led to them making mistakes. The fact Wolf and his pack were now dead only validated Gareth’s concerns.

Not that such validation helped him now.

Nor did the knowledge that, even though Wolf and his pack might be dead, others would soon share their fate. Wolf’s failure to complete his mission meant the deaths of all those the skinwalker and his pack cared for. The baron did not accept failure and his punishment was swift and deadly. He would make examples of those who failed him, or their survivors, often killing them himself and then displaying their heads for all to see.

Gareth had no intention of letting that happen to his dear wife and children.

Nearing the tree line, he glanced across the open fields and training rings. Beyond them lay the Citadel. The home of the Order of Arelion had been built for easy defense. Resting atop a tall hill, almost a mesa, three sides formed cliffs leading down to the river. The fourth side, the side he currently surveyed, was nothing but open land, easily watched and guarded. Anyone approaching, either across the fields or by the trade road, would be seen long before they reached the main gates.

The baron knew that as well but cared not. He had given Gareth one order: watch the Citadel. Report who came and went and, should the opportunity arise, kill the girl.

All of which was much easier said than done, as Wolf and his pack discovered. At least Gareth had one tool Wolf had not. He had his pet.

At the thought of his only companion other than his horse, Gareth turned to the gelding. A slight smile touched his lips at the sight of the black raven perched on the pommel of the saddle. Except, if one looked closely enough, they would see it was not a raven. In fact, it was not even alive, not in the strictest sense of the word. The bird was a construct, something created from blood and magic. Gareth’s blood and magic, as well as the blood and bone of others, human and animal. Bound to Gareth, the construct was as much a part of his as was his heart or brain.

That alone was enough to turn his blood cold as he once again looked toward the Citadel. Whatever his master might do to him should he fail paled when he considered what the Order would do should they discover him spying on them. They would begin by destroying the construct and that would be akin to destroying a part of himself. It might be easier losing a hand or arm than to lose the construct in that manner.

The Order did not understand the glory and the power of blood magic. They were too closely bound to the Lord and Lady, too blinded by devotion to see the power they could wield if they would just allow themselves to stray a little from the Codes. Because of that, they would strip him of his magic, of all that made him. He had no doubt if he failed to answer their questions, they would imprison him – or worse. They might allow him to live, a paled shadow of himself, stripped of all magic, but his family would not be so lucky, if such an existence could be called lucky. His master would make sure his loved ones paid for his failure.

Tempting as it was to run, he knew better. He should have trusted his instincts when the messenger came, telling him the Baron wanted to see him. In that moment, every instinct screamed for Gareth to gather his family and run and hide. It had warned him not to open the door. But ego had overridden common sense and now he found himself in a situation with only two possible outcomes, a situation where death might be the best outcome he could hope for.

He could not dwell on that. If he did, he would fail. Cursing slightly, he shook off the doubts and gathered his thoughts. He had a job to do, one he would see to completion. No other outcome could be considered.

Standing in the shadows of the trees, he closed his eyes. The world seemed to shift under his feet. A moment later, he looked out of the construct’s eyes. He heard the sounds of the forest around them through the construct’s ears. It was time to set the raven to watch. Once he had, he could locate a safe place to set up camp and, hopefully, get warm.

Pulling his senses back to his body, Gareth opened his eyes and extended his left arm. He watched as the construct hopped onto his gloved fist, much as any well-trained living bird would. The raven cocked its head to one side as he held it close. The feathered head rubbed against his cheek and Gareth smiled slightly. The bond between them was strong and growing stronger. That meant the raven could keep watch on the Citadel while he kept out of sight. That was the best plan, the only plan, he had been able to come up with on such short notice. The Baron might not approve but his master was not the one risking life and limb in an attempt to keep an eye on the Order.

“You know what to do, my pet.” His gloved fingers caressed the construct’s head. “Watch them. Let me see any who come and go. Look for the girl. She is our target. Find her. Our lives depend on it.”

The construct nodded, and almost human-like gesture, and unfurled its wings. A moment later, Gareth lifted his arm and watched as the bird took flight. It would keep watch and let him know should trouble near. He might even get lucky and their target would show herself. Not that he expected it to be that easy. After all, she had managed to survive this long, despite everything his master had attempted to find her. But Gareth held out hope. He could do nothing else.

As the construct winged every closer to the Citadel, Gareth turned and moved deeper into the trees, the gelding pacing after him. If he wanted to be warm that night, he had best find some place to set up camp, especially since the sky showed every indication of more snow moving in.

Hopefully, there would be a cave nearby he could ensorcel, one where no one could see his fire or sense his magic. Then he would be safe to practice his craft and find a way to complete his mission without losing his life in the process.

***

Dagger of Elanna is the second book in the Sword of the Gods series. Sword of Arelion is the first book and is available in both digital and print formats.

If it’s Tuesday

I’m posting at Mad Genius Club. Today, I’m talking about critique groups, point of view, and the Rule of Three.

The dangers of critiques

Update on Dagger of Elanna

It is coming. There has been a problem with the production of the print book. As soon as that is fixed and I have confirmed it by seeing the fix, I will hit the publish button on the e-book. Hopefully, we are talking just a couple of days.

In the meantime, check out my author page on Amazon.

And the winner is. . . .

Congrats to all the winners of the Dragon Awards!

Imagine, books and other media nominated by fans of the genre, voted on by fans of the genre and the winners decided upon only by who garnered the most votes. No weird counting gymnastics. No belief that the fans don’t know enough about the genre to nominate the right sort of work. A real fan award.

Best SF Game: “Fallout 4”
Best Mobile: “Fallout Shelter”
Best Board Game: “Pandemic Legacy”
Best RPG/CCG: “Call of Cthulhu”
Best TV: “Game of Thrones”
Best Movie: “The Martian”
Best Comic: “Ms Marvel”
Best Graphic Novel: “Sandman: Overture”
Best Horror Novel goes to “Soul Dancer” by Brian Near
Best Apocalyptic Novel goes to “Ctrl-Alt-Revolt” by Nick Cole
Best Alternative History up now. “League of Dragons” by Naomi Novik
Best MilSF: “Hell’s Foundations Quiver” by David Weber
Best YA Novel goes to “The Shepherd’s Crown” by Terry Pratchett.
Best Fantasy Novel: “Son of a Black Sword” by Larry Correia
Best SF Novel: “Somewhither” by John C. Wright

When you know it’s wrong

I’ve been struggling with the second short story in the Honor & Ashes universe for more than a week now. Oh, I have the very rough draft done but the final draft just wasn’t happening. Night before last, I woke and thought I had the answer. Heck, it even kept me up much of the night as I considered what my subconscious had been telling me. Unfortunately, that was just the first of two nights when my brain continued worked while my body slept.

The short version is that I finally realized what the problem was. The opening section — sections, actually — were great for a longer work. If I was going to make Battle Bound into a novel, or even a novella, the opening as I had it would work. But, for a short story, it didn’t deliver the bang soon enough. Now that I’ve figured that out, as well as how to work with it, I need to get back to work. So, I am digging out the earphones, turning on the music — and that was something else I needed to do: find the right music — and getting this story pounded out today.

Of course, real life being what it is, the writing will be interrupted from time to time. So I had best get to it. Back later!

Taking the Day Off

There’s not going to be a blog today. Sorry, guys. I need a day off. Yesterday was one of those days when everything I needed to accomplish got pushed to the side by contretemps and brush fires that had to be dealt with. By the end of the day, everything still sat on my desk where it had begun the day, So, to get back on track and try to catch up, the blog has to wait until tomorrow. If — and this is a big if — things move faster than I expect this morning, I’ll be back this afternoon with a post but I am not counting on it.

Everyone take care.

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