Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sketchy Sunday

I used to have decent drawing ability, but my movement disorder put an end to it. These are some older sketches I found in the garage. Most of them are characters from The Crystal Lattice. I took photographs of them because the scanner isn't plugged in, so I got some weird glare.

Bralt, the Efi Emergent paladin (The Crystal Lattice)
Lirana, Efi teacher (The Crystal Lattice)

Hrenba, the queen of the Baku (The Crystal Lattice)
Safora Nightwolf, the human bard (The Crystal Lattice).
Terali, the narrator's infatuation (The Crystal Lattice)
Ravaki Thula, the half-Efi Emergent mage (The Crystal Lattice) 
Kith the Vin Thulan from Sand into Glass. This is a quick sketch I did tonight.

Saruza and Bethel, post-The Shattered Veil. Quick sketch I did tonight.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Character Interview: Holly Thula

I've been wanting to interview another Shadows of Absolution character for a while, but it's a challenge to interview one of the four main characters without revealing too much of the story, because their pasts are so tied to their presents and the plot. I was originally planning to interview Dacibrega, but he's shy and doesn't like to talk about his transitions so he refused to speak with me. When Dacibrega declined, Holly Thula decided to entertain me instead. He's always been rather talkative, so I actually prefer his chattering to Dacibrega's short answers and stunned silence.

Good afternoon, Holly. I find you fascinating and I'm glad you decided to join me. First of all, could you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Efilon fifty years ago. Don't look at me like that. I've been told I look more like early twenties, but don't let my looks fool you. Everyone in my family ages slowly. Not just ages, matures. We take a little too long to learn how to do anything when we're kids. Sets us up for a casual life, really, if you're not like me. I hope you forgive me for not shaking your hand. I can't touch anyone. Suck the energy right out of them, you know? Can't help it, can't control it, just something nasty I was born with and it's gotten worse as I've gotten older. I'm kind of the personification of Despair. It sucks, but I can't do anything about it so I just had to learn to live with it so it didn't break me down.

You come from an interesting family, don't you? What are they like?
Well, my father's the former Crown Prince of Ganebra, you know before it fell. Aridani Thula. He founded Efilon after the fall, but he's kind of irrelevant now. Don't tell him I told you that. He's my opposite and kind of my balance, so he could withstand my touch longer than anyone else except for his father, Bethel. Bethel's an Aulor, a Time Child, and doesn't look much older than me even though he's a hundred or something. He's great and I've been travelling with him for a little while because he's the only one left who isn't afraid of me. My mom was named Lore Naron. I look more like her, blond hair, light eyes. She had a memory talent, never forgot anything she heard. I'm the youngest of five kids. I have three sisters - Haven, Lavender, and Willow - and a brother, Sage. We're not exactly fond of each other. I think they're resentful of my existence, because everything went to the abyss when I was born. I have two aunts and a bunch of cousins on my father's side, but I only met some of them a couple of times when I was a kid. My mom didn't have any siblings and her parents died in the fall, so my family is a little unbalanced.

You must have had a difficult childhood since you were unable to touch anyone.
Very. It was frustrating and lonely. Little kids don't know about personal space, and it took a lot of scolding to convince me not to touch people. I wasn't allowed to go to school or parties, and barely even allowed out of the house. My siblings made a game of telling me how much I screwed up their lives. My parents were great, but they couldn't hide their sorrow. Just their Despair. I think you've noticed you feel a little melancholy this close to me? Sorry about that. I'm not doing it consciously and I'm keeping as much of it drawn into myself as possible so it doesn't make you feel worse. Well, everyone else can feel it, too, and the whole town was afraid of me. They were always looking for an excuse to exile me, and I finally gave them one when I was forty-seven.

What happened when you were forty-seven?
My mom died. She had been a little ill most of her life, at least since I was born, but she lived to be a respectable age. Of course it was all my fault and I still have nightmares about her reaching forward to kiss me. The Efilon council immediately voted to exile me. My dad was the only dissenter, but no one really listened to him anymore so it didn't matter that he defended me. Well, it mattered to me, but not to anyone else. I knew I needed to leave, so I would have gone even if they didn't force me to.

Where did you go after you were exiled from Efilon?
East to Ara and the island of Liefen. I visited my Aunt Solace to see if I could join her Mero, but she couldn't come near me and was afraid of me. Her council voted to get me as far away as possible. There was one person who voted to let me join them, but I don't know who it was. Anyway, they were nice enough to give me a little boat, so I followed Bethel's energy pattern and met him on an island off southern Rikulon. He took me in, so I've been living on his boat, the Chulanlir, with him, Dacibrega, and until recently, Saruza. I like it. It's peaceful, no one glares at me except Daci, and the water gives me most of the energy I need. Turns out, I die if I don't absorb enough external energy, but the scavengers try to eat me first and then I end up eating them and living. I can consume moving water so being on the ocean helps and it dampens my aura drastically.

Is Bethel afraid of you like everyone else seems to be?
If he is, he hides it well. He can touch me a little still, because he is way stronger than everyone else and has a little energy to spare for me. He's been trying to teach me how to control my talent, but we're failing so far. We have time. We've just been sailing around gathering evidence to see if there are any Tenjeri left in the world. Haven't found any living Tenjeri so far. Saruza was probably the last, but Bethel wants to be sure of that. I think he's too busy internally panicking about his kids growing old and dying to think about being afraid of me. And the voices... I know he talks to people who aren't there, people I can't see. Ghosts or whatever, but it's creepy, and since he's and Aulor, I don't know if he's insane or actually talking to someone.

Do you have any hobbies?
Sure, have to pass the years somehow. I am a pretty good musician and composer. My dad was a musical prodigy, and I guess I inherited some of that. I paint, knit, crochet, and sew. Useful and necessary when you have to make or repair everything yourself. I'm the cook for the Chulanlir. Daci hates that. My father's people are all vegetarians because they're going for this whole nature guardian, non-violent approach to the new world. Bethel's been vegetarian since he was a kid, too. Saruza used to cook meat for Daci, but since she's gone now, he's stuck with my food. He's too stubborn to learn how to cook on his own, so he just complains to me about it.

So you don't get along with Dacibrega?
Oh, I do, as long as I keep a sense of humor about him. He's gotten better even in the months since I met him. I think he's trying to prove to me that he's not useless. Failing, but the effort is worthwhile. He takes me way too seriously and gets confused about my jokes. I like him, though. He's a resilient little thing, coming through what he did and still working on undoing the damage his own people did to him.

What is your greatest fear?
Accidentally killing someone I love. And, my problem getting so big that no amount of energy can sustain me, but the scavengers keep dropping by to keep me alive. I know I'm getting worse, so it's possible. I don't want to hurt anyone.

What is your greatest dream?
It's so simple, so mundane to everyone but me. I want to touch someone without hurting them. I want to know what real physical contact feels like without the threat of my soul interfering. A kiss and a cuddle in front of a fire on a cold winter night. Just an impossible dream. I'll never get to have that and I can't even imagine what it would really be like, just an idea. It's been decades since I cuddled up with my father without hurting him, and he's the only touch I can remember aside from Bethel's little butterfly taps on my forehead he uses to recharge me. It would be wonderful and so different if a touch came from someone outside my family, someone who could touch me without fear of being hurt. Can't have that, though, and I need to stop talking about it because it will just throw me into another breakdown.

Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. What do you have now that makes you happy?
Bethel and Dacibrega. We have our spats, but they try to ignore my problem in favor of getting to know me. I love the ocean. I think I'll spend the rest of my life sailing, because it gives me a little bit of control I can't find anywhere else. I love creating new things, whether it is music, art, textiles, or food. Since I'll never have a family of my own, it's my only method of creating something new and entirely influenced and nurtured by me.

If you were marooned on an island, what three things would you like to have with you?
I'm starting to think I might go that route. Finding a nice, quite island and living out my life alone there. It would certainly be lonely, but it's better than hurting people. Well, to answer your question, first of all I'd bring the obsidian dagger my uncle Onyx made me. That thing is sturdy and can cut through anything. Second, I'd have to steal Bethel's library. I'd leave him with the books in languages I can't read, and take the rest. Not sure on the third, probably an instrument. Something durable if I don't have a lifetime supply of guitar strings, and I have no idea what my lifespan is, so that could be a lot. Maybe a metal xylophone so I can give the birds a little concert.

Where are you heading now?
Back to Malora. Bethel is going to see to my Aunt Thora about borrowing one of her rangers so we can find a mythical city. Ridiculous, but it's something to do. I'm sure someone will write down this adventure. Oh, someone already has? Prophetic, huh? Anyways, the wind is picking up so I'd better go see to the steering. You don't have to pretend not to be afraid of me anymore.

The adventures of Holly, Dacibrega, Bethel, and the ranger Isen are written and published in Shadows of Absolution.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Sleep now, baby, it will be all right. 
Quiet now, baby, drift over calm seas. 
Don't cry, baby, you are never alone. 
Whisper hope into the sweet, dark night,
Sing out in love to the stars so bright,
Dream of beauty and dream of light. 
Fly away, fear, and leave him to sleep. 
Fly away, sorrow, and no longer weep. 
Sleep now, baby, and drift off to peace.

-Bethel Masiona, Sand into Glass

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In the Weeds

We have a growth of weeds and grasses in front of our basement window. It is unsightly and facing the road, but I'm not inclined to pull it up. You see, that pile of weeds has been utilized as a rabbit nest for the last couple of years. A few nights ago, the kids and cats got to watch a palm-sized baby bunny the nest, possibly for the first time. It was maybe eighteen inches away, and safe from the curious eyes and grabbing paws. This is the third baby bunny I've seen outside my window in as many summers. Today, I saw the bunny's sibling, who was shier and darker. It dashed into the bushes when the cat knocked on the glass, but the bold baby with the white spot kept on eating. 

We've also watched birds and field mice take advantage of the tasty grass seeds. My son was fascinated by a dainty mouse climbing a stalk to savor a snack last summer. I don't want to pull those weeds. They are unsightly, but they are someone's home, and a rare shelter from the unrelenting heat. I no longer see weeds when I look at the neglected garden. I see an opportunity to show my children something amazing.

I finally caught some pictures of one of the babies a few minutes ago. They're a little blurry since they're through a window and I had to fight the cat for positioning.

The birdbath gnome is about 12 inches tall. The bunny is hard to see unless you click on the picture.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


There is so much going on right now! I have a giveaway contest going on Goodreads, I just today approved the paperback of Shadows of Absolution (it was already available in e-book), and my muse is running wild through the first book of the Emergence trilogy! I've been playing around on Pinterest lately, so if you're interested in seeing some of my characters as I see them, check out my Malora board.

So, while you're busy reading Shadows of Absolution, would you like to know what comes next?

I thought this was appropriate, given the title and subject matter of my new trilogy. I made this for my daughter.

The Emergence trilogy takes place approximately 4,500 years after the Echoes of Oblivion trilogy, when Malora has become Melor. The descendants of Aulors have become something other than human. The primary races are humans, Efi (tall forest guardians with lifespans of 500-600 years), Mero (red-haired water dwellers, also long lifespans), Baku (argent-skinned mountain guardians), Toli (tallest race, muscular, coloring is shades of blue and green, live in the southern rainforests), Masai (similar to Tenjeri, live in the boreal forests), and Drey (slight, jewel-toned mountain inhabitants). Magic is rarer than it was in the time of Ganebra, and most mages are very weakly skilled. However, some of the stronger ones have the capability of transcending to become purer forms of their talents. They are known as Emergents, and every Emergent mage was once a student of Bethel Masiona.

Book One is Sand into Glass, the story of Arden Masiona's struggle to overcome his own primal nature. He is the sole non-magical member of the Masiona family and the son of the Aulor Bethel and the Efi Emergent Andra Brier. At the onset of the story, Arden has been arrested by the Drey and is awaiting trial on on murder charge. You'll have to read it to find out how he got to that point. Arden is partially deaf, has mild cerebral palsy, and sustained brain damage as an infant which rendered him unable to fully control his emotions and behavior. I am currently over 20,000 words into this book and have had long conversations with Arden, so there is a huge amount of story ahead.

Book Two is The Crystal Lattice. It is already written, though it will need some tweaks now that it is the center of the trilogy instead of the stand-alone book I originally drafted 9 years ago. Tesji is a young elemental mage, an outcast among the Efi. He was left with his grandfather as a very young child and has little knowledge of his parentage. He finds himself alone when he comes of age, and leaves his home to head the call of the far-off mountains and the sea of Ara. He becomes a student of Bethel Masiona, and later a revolutionary.

Book Three has the working title of Arrow of Entropy, and is currently little but a collection of notes and ideas. Zella Thula is the daughter of Tesji and the narrator of the story. Arrow of Entropy follows Zella's relationship with the Aulor Rassa as the tension initiated by Tesji in The Crystal Lattice culminates in a second transcendence for a major character in the series and a shifting in the cosmic balance when the Web discovers just how vulnerable it really is.

Monday, July 9, 2012

20 Ways to Support Indie Authors

I love my readers. They took a chance on a total unknown who was busy flicking ashes at the perimeter of her genre, and then came back for more. Indie readers are enthusiastic and supportive, but sometimes indie authors need just a little bit more help to succeed. There are many ways to support indie authors, and most of them are free and only require a click or two. Here are twenty of them, in no particular order.

1. Tag our books on Amazon. This helps us climb in rankings when someone searches for one of tagged words.

2. Participate in our contests. Sometimes we have free books to offer, and it usually only takes a click or a comment to win. Free!

3. Listen (or at least be polite and pretend to) when we ramble about our books, characters, or ideas. We are an easily excitable lot and we love what we do.

4. Like our Facebook pages.

5. Occasionally or frequently comment on our Facebook or blog posts. Don't be afraid to converse with us. Writers are people, too, and it gets lonely when people feel too intimidated to interact.

6. Follow us on Goodreads.

7. Follow us on Twitter.

8. Follow and read our blogs.

9. Read our books and leave ratings for them on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or wherever else we have our books listed or for sale. It's easy, just write one review and copy and paste it everywhere else if you don't want to write new ones.

10. If you like our books, recommend them to others and click that little "Like" button next to the stars on Amazon.

11. Give our books as gifts. You can even do this with e-books now.

12. Bring us food. Or even well-written recipes. Writers need to eat, too, but sometimes we are too lost in the intricacies of Medieval dining etiquette to remember to make our own dinners. Remind us to feed our cats when you bring us food because we occasionally mistake feline hunger for scathing critique.

13. Recognize that we are not being rude by staring off into space during conversations and social gatherings. We are observing, brainstorming, and most likely mentally writing a bit of dialogue or a scene. We are not ignoring you, we are multitasking.

14. Provide constructive criticism and feedback if we trust you enough to ask you to beta read something. It's scary to entrust others with the contents of our psyches. If you don't like something, tell us why. If you love something, also tell us why so we can try to duplicate the effect in future projects. We want both the good and the bad so we aren't blindsided by some horrible and unexpected plot hole when our babies are booted out of the basement and into the world.

15. Be patient with us. It can take years to write a single book, especially since most of us can't devote as much time as we would like to writing. Some writers can put out multiple books per year, but many of us are slow and meticulous. We don't want to keep you waiting, but we also want to publish the best books we can and leave our readers both satiated and wanting more. Keep us on task and hold us accountable to our words, but don't rush us too much or you will be disappointed with the final book.

16. Mention us on Facebook, Twitter, or by word-of-mouth. It really makes our days when we come across a recommendation someone gives for one of our books. If you're the shy sort, send us a Facebook message or email. We love to hear from our readers. Sometimes it is the motivation we need to slog through a particularly vexing chapter.

17. Recommend your favorite indie books to us so we can help support other writers. Writers are also readers and we love a good book as much as you do.

18. Keep reading. Readers are much of the reason we strive to elevate our work from a hobby to an art.

19. Snag our books if we're running a free or cheap promo, and tell your friends. We run promos for exposure, but we need help generating interest.

20. Buy our books. Many e-books cost less than a cup of coffee, and offer far more hours of satisfaction. You can't re-drink a coffee, but you can reread a book as many times as you like. You don't even need a Kindle or Nook to read an e-book, since there are free apps for most devices out there. If you prefer paper, many of us have created paperbacks or even hardbacks, which can pretty up your shelves. After your read them, of course. 

Thank you, readers! You are awesome!

Shadows of Absolution

My adventurous baby has left home to see what she can accomplish on her own. I'm going to miss her, but now I get to focus my attention on her younger brother. I'm a little frightened of this young woman, but I have a feeling greatness is lurking under her unassuming surface. She's only in e-book right now, but she'll be buying a new outfit in the next week or two so she can go out as a paperback, as well. She's not much for parties, but she does make a great bodyguard and she can tell you which mushrooms are the good ones to eat.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Setting Isen Free

The wolves were always hungry.

Nearly four years ago, I wrote the first words of Shadows of Absolution, a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure love story set sixty years after the fall of Malora. I had the vague idea of an adventure and a nameless narrator who was destined to be guided across the world the Aulor Bethel. I knew who she was, the great-granddaughter of Ganebra's former Chancellor and member of a quickly evolving race, but it took me a couple of days to find a name for her. She was strong, wary, and hid her inner turmoil behind a polite chill. She became Isen Layel, a twenty-four-year-old ranger who had experienced more loss than she could bring herself to tell anyone. She left me alone for a while so I could indulge Lani with Mayfly Requiem, but came whispering this year and begged me to finish her story.

Would you like to meet her? I've decided to set her free on Monday, July 9, 2012. I would love for you to get to know her like I have. The e-book will be available on Amazon on Monday, and the paperback will chase it in a week or so once technology catches up with itself and everything comes back into balance.

Shadows of Absolution is about more than Isen's struggle to find hope in a dark world. It is a coming-of-age story for all four of the major characters. Bethel Masiona is an immortal struggling to find meaning in an unending life while he watches his friends and family age and die as he stays the same. Holly Thula is a young man cursed to never knowing touch aside from a few seconds by the only person who is still strong enough to withstand his energy vortex of a soul. Dacibrega was raised to be a willing sacrifice, and must learn to adapt and survive after a rescue by Bethel days before his scheduled death.

Journey back to Malora with me this Monday and meet the people who have walked through my dreams for the last four years. I will take you across Ara for the first time with Isen and her companions as they try to find the last lost city of the Tenjeri. A few finishing touches, and my fifth baby is ready to fly.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Giveaway time!

I'm back from vacation, so it's giveaway time! Enter the contest on Goodreads to win one of three paperback copies of Mayfly Requiem. It ends July 17th, so click "Enter to Win" below and enter today before you forget!


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Mayfly Requiem by Courtney M. Privett



          Mayfly Requiem


          by Courtney M. Privett



            Giveaway ends July 17, 2012.


            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




      Enter to win