Lean in

I have been doing a lot of soul searching. Some strictly for self improvement and some with the goal to enhance my writing. My favorite thing about this journey is finding where these goals intersect. I feel like the universe is on my side and the pieces are finally starting to fit but in order to see the picture clearly I need to lean in to the things that bring me discomfort instead of avoiding them.

Motivational speaker Rob Dial, mentioned in one of his podcasts this tidbit “The treasure you are looking for is in the cave you don’t wish to enter .” I remember this often and am finding it to be accurate. The tension and struggles I feel get less and less of a flee response from me and more of a, ” I don’t think I packed enough underwear for this trip.” Response.

The fact that I know I’m about to embark on an adventure is exciting and welcome but I need more underpants because it’s bound to get a little messy.

The latest example happened just a short time ago. I am reading an article about writing framework and about how book 2 went not as well as they hoped. I instantly wanted to close it and stop reading. Not just the article but the entire magazine. Book 2 already huh, well there’s nothing I need from that. Book too huh, must be nice. Check Please! Pity Party table 1.

I put up a wall because of inferiority, jealousy and all manner of other things. Then I stepped away, made a cup of tea and took a breath. I remembered the treasure in the cave and thinking this may be one of those caves. So I put on my big girl panties and began to read this article.

I have been struggling with a rewrite for days. 1 particular chapter which effects 3 chapters of my beloved world and this article gives me a road map on how to fix it, and better still gives a way to frame my work so that it never happens again.

I don’t know why I do this. Perhaps it’s the comfort zone I didn’t wish to leave or the avarice I shouldn’t have or just trying to be a free spirit that using someone else’s outline might take away. But in reality when we turn away from uncomfortable things is when we get our answers and we can be as free as we want inside our own rules. It’s better to try and tear down real walls than imaginary ones.

I was expecting some huge finding should I ever go into one of these caves like the Secret to Life maybe or a million dollars. I was not expecting to find something so small and simple but that was what I needed.

I will do my best to lean in to the discomforts that I recognize everyday. It may not be the biggest treasure ever but I am finding little gems regularly. Since my bag is packed and ready to go I have extra room in my dresser to store my jewels. 🙃

House of Randoms Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Two Cuid

The terrain had been rocky and rugged for two days. The transition to rolling hills and gentle slopes was abrupt but welcome. Armos could see for miles to either side of them with his sharp elf eyes and Seamus, his traveling companion, had been able to find more edible plants in grassier lands.
“This rabbit is going to make a fine stew. Too bad there is no ale to go with it.” Seamus said, adding a few mushrooms to the pot over a small cook fire. He had a grin that split his face in half. His round cheeks and blue eyes gave him a rather jolly look. He had a head full of thick curly red hair and a nose, smaller than most dwarves that turned up slightly at the end.
The only obvious traits of dwarf to him were his broad chest and shoulders and his height. He could pass for a shorter than average human. Much like his dwarven kin he was very fond of ale and skilled with his ax. He could make just about anything taste good and Armos was more than grateful for that skill on this journey.
The first few days had not been as difficult as he had thought. They avoided towns which meant foraging for food and suitable lodging. Armos was surprised how easy it had been to get what they needed from the farmers. Armos was beginning to think humans weren’t all bad until yesterday.


The last farmer who’d lent them a bed for the night changed his mind quickly when his daughter had stolen a kiss from Seamus after her evening chores. The farmer set his dogs on them and they’d kept up the chase for half a mile. Since every young lady in Seamus’ vicinity seemed immediately taken with him , Armos thought it best to avoid farmers at all costs, unless they were beyond daughter-bearing years.
“Do you want tea with your stew?” Seamus added roots to the pot.
“No. I think I’ll stick to water. The only herbs I have left are for medicine.” Armos switched between scanning the horizon and watching their backs as he re-strung his bow.
Seamus watched his traveling companion and shook his head. “Are all elves as paranoid as you?” He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. “Your head’s been on a swivel since we lost those dogs. That was yesterday. No one is following us.”
“It doesn’t hurt to be certain.” Armos fought the instinct to defend himself. Unlike Seamus who for a dwarf may be considered well traveled, he had never left Fraspire Springs. If there were as many threats out there as all the elves believed there to be, he wanted to be ready.
“Do you see any potatoes out there?” Seamus stirred the pot with a small wooden spoon.
Armos rolled his eyes and sighed, “How would I see above ground something that grows underground?”
“Leaves of course. I will teach you how to recognize them if I find any that way you may actually keep your eyes out for something useful.” He chuckled and went back to his stirring.
Sharing the road with a dwarf had been worse than he had imagined. Seamus had a joke for everything. Armos knew he did not mean to be cruel or rude; it was just his way.
“Without my constantly keeping an eye out you would be eating a lot less rabbit. Speaking of which…” Armos drew his bow aiming at something Seamus couldn’t see.
“Another one?” Seamus’ mouth fell open and Armos released the tension in his bow before lowering it.
“Nevermind, it was a chipmunk. Would not have been more than a mouthful.”
Seamus narrowed his eyes at Armos. “No way you could have seen a chipmunk. You’re pulling my leg.”
“I am sorry you think so. That hawk says otherwise.” Armos nodded in the direction he’d aimed. A red-tailed hawk was large enough to be seen from this distance and it swooped quickly downward then up again to enjoy chipmunk in a tree.
“That is impressive.” Seamus nodded. He gave the stew another stir and slurped from the spoon. Armos grimaced when he put it back in the pot without wiping it off. “Not as impressive as this stew, shall we eat?”
All that could be heard as they ate was the dull scraping of spoons on the bottom of bowls. Armos was guilty of guzzling right along with Seamus. He would have to be sure not to return home with any bad habits.
—————————

Traveling with an elf had not been as interesting as Seamus had hoped. When his father had told him of the journey, he’d cautioned him not to take it personal if his companion was stodgy. He’d warned of the time they took to groom themselves at the start and end of each day and how they had little to no sense of humor. Seamus had to admit he had been naive to think it could not be all that bad.
At first, he thought for sure there would be wine. Elves always had wine in the stories. Unfortunately, that was not true about this elf. Just herbs and water. Seamus could do without wine and ale if he really had to and Armos did not groom himself as much as he’d expected with the exception of making sure his single braid was nice and tight and the snarls were out of the rest of his silky black hair. If the man wanted to be tidy Seamus could find no fault in that.
He didn’t even mind if his eagle-eyed friend scouted ahead or behind. Keeping a good look out was important when you were in new territory. Armos even seemed to appreciate his cooking and that was something he was proud of. If he had one complaint it was that his companion never seemed to relax. Not even a little.


Seamus could easily help keep an eye out. He could smell as far as Armos could see and hear just as well. Stopping to gather wild onions or smelling the flowers would not get them killed as Armos seemed to think. One day, Seamus told himself he would see his friend loosen up a bit.


He had put his cooking supplies away and stopped to check on the horses, who seemed to be having an even harder time getting along. Seamus’ pony, Nilly tried to make friends with Bolt, the leggy gelding of Armos’ but got nipped at for her trouble. Even elven mounts were uptight, Seamus thought.


Trying to soothe Nilly’s hurt feelings, he pulled an apple from his bag and cut a few thick slices out of it. If he couldn’t get Armos to loosen up maybe he could gain some headway with Bolt.
He walked over to Nilly. Her ears pricked automatically when she saw him approaching. Her head bobbed up and down excitedly and Seamus scratched her cheek before giving her a slice of apple. Bolt turned his head to look at them but appeared unfazed by the smell of apples.


“Oh, come on, it’s alright. Do you want a piece? Nilly doesn’t mind sharing, do you girl?” Nilly bobbed her head again.
Bolt snorted, jerked his head once and turned around so that his bum was facing Seamus, then he turned nose high in the air.
A laugh escaped Armos. Seamus had never heard him laugh before.
“I guess you can keep your apples Seamus.” Armos put his bowl and spoon away in his satchel.


“He’s just picky. He takes after you I am guessing.” He chuckled and patted Nilly once more before going back to the fire where he was boiling some water for tea.


“I think he’s mad at having to outrun those dogs. I can’t say I blame him.”
“Honestly, she kissed me. I had nothing to do with it. I can’t help it if all the ladies lose their minds when I come around.” He wiped his hands on his trousers then poured the hot water over the crushed leaves in his cup.
“Maybe you seduce them with dwarven magic.” Armos said soberly. “I cannot explain it any other way. They wouldn’t come of their own accord.”
“It may be. Not many dwarves have those talents but if that’s mine I will take it.” He sipped carefully and nodded to Armos. “What about you? Do you have magic?”

Armos sat down crossing his legs underneath him. “I can do a little. I can conjure a scalerat. It’s not as big as some yet or as powerful but it can be useful.”
“Will you show me?” Seamus asked.
“I don’t see why not. Only a small one. We still don’t want to attract attention.” Armos held out a slender hand and closed his fingers into a fist. His eyelids shut gently. For a few moments he simply sat and breathed deeply.
Seamus was worried he’d fallen asleep but just before he nudged him, his eyes fluttered open and he unclenched his fist. In the palm of his hand was a small blue orb that swirled and danced around in his palm.
“That is really something. What does it do?” Seamus leaned closer and watched the little ball spin in Armo’s hand. Mesmerized. He could see blue but also white and specks of green inside.
Armos closed his fist again and when he opened it the orb was gone.
“Lots of things.” Armos sat up straight and smiled. “It can be used in the dark to light your way. It can be thrown as a weapon.”
“Does your victim explode into a thousand pieces?” Seamus asked. His eyes wide with curiosity.
“Not yet. Some can but it takes someone a lot more advanced in their training than I am. Mine might stun someone.” Armos frowned and shook his head. “I sealed a wound with one once, but I am not sure how I did it and I haven’t had the chance to ask anyone either.”
“How does it work?” Seamus filled an extra cup with tea and hand handed it to Armos.
“I can’t explain all of it but I am borrowing energy from the atmosphere. It flows through me from trees, plants and grass. The sky. Even beginners can conjure a great scalerat in a storm. Summoning one is not as hard as getting it to do what you want it to do.”
“Are you planning on continuing training when you return home?”
“I suppose I will. I will never be a mage. My power is not that strong. I have other gifts, though.”
“Me too. I am good at cooking, my ax and a few other things. I am not really remarkable. I am okay with that. My father was the same. Good man, I got to spend a lot of time with him. I know some people whose fathers are in the dwarven counsel and they hardly get to see them. I’ll be happy to raise a family and have a nice farm or a shop. Who knows. Maybe try my hand at sailing first.”
“That sounds…”
“Shh.” Seamus held up his hand to silence his friend then sniffed the air. In a heartbeat he set down his cup and rose quickly. He dumped the dirt he’d gathered earlier on the fire to smother it.


“I smell horses and men.Something about them doesn’t smell right.” Seamus said quietly then jerked his head to the east. Armos rolled onto his belly and crawled close to the end of the ridge.
“They shouldn’t be able to see us from where they are.” He whispered. “We are far enough away and they have tree cover. But the road leads this way, we should pack up camp and move ahead.”


Quickly and quietly he packed up the little camp while Armos tried to get into a better position to observe unseen.
Keeping low Seamus readied the horses. He’d cinched up the last saddle bag as Armos rejoined him. “I don’t believe they’ve seen us. But there’s a group of at least ten. They’ll more than likely want to camp and do it in a place with a good vantage point. Which is exactly where we are. I say we lead the horses down into that thicket ahead and to the left of the road.”


Seamus shook his head. “I say the quicker the better. They don’t smell right, Armos, that’s the only way I can describe it.”
Armos nodded and they quickly led their horses off the road and down into the thicket directly across from a grove of trees. Without speaking they ran towards the grove, horses in tow. They only stopped for a moment to glance behind them. Sure enough just as they did so they could see the party reach the crest of the hill they’d been about to camp on. Seamus could hear some of the words from this distance.
“They’ve found our camp. They know we’ve just left.” He said under his breath.
“They are Cloaks of Justice, Seamus. They have captives.” Armos led the way through the thick grass and set the pace. “Once inside the trees we mount.”
“We should help them.” Seamus panted. “Did you see how many there are?”


“I only saw five officers but we can’t risk becoming captives ourselves.” Armos leapt onto his horse as soon as they hit the tree line. As Seamus mounted he cast a look behind him once more.


“I don’t want to agree with you, but I do. They aren’t protesting so maybe they are too far gone.” Seamus’ heart went out to them but he had heard about the changes that take place in Cloak prisoners.
“I only see three. I’ve lost sight of the other two.” Armos said frantically.
Seamus sniffed the air as he settled in his saddle. “Not right. All I smell is not right. We need to keep moving, Armos.” For the first time since Armos had met him there was no joke in Seamus’ voice.
They led their horses through the grove as quickly and quietly as they could. As the trees got denser the path they were on got more difficult. As they traveled deeper into the woods the smell got closer. Seamus could hear the cracking of leaves and twigs behind them and in front of them the rushing of water.
“We’re not going to outrun them in this forest.” Seamus said and pulled his ax free from its place on his saddle.
Armos already had an arrow knocked and drawn when two men barreled out from a tree directly behind them. Armos let his arrow fly as a red ball of light came flying at them from the side. Armos ducked just in time. The ball hit a tree, splintering the wood and instantly set it ablaze.
“That was a warning shot.” A man said, “Lower your bow, and your ax.” He was one of the Captains. Armos sized him up as quickly as he could. This one had to be in charge. The other two came into view one from behind spread out in a semi circle in front. The second Captain carried a sword and the last had a dagger.
“Not a chance! Let us be on our way!” Armos demanded. His arrow aimed at the Captain in charge. “We don’t want trouble.”
The first captain smirked at Armos as the other two took steps closer. “Not right.” Seamus said quietly, gripping his ax.
Armos’ eyes darted from one to the other. He sensed it too.
“What do we have here Gabe?”
“I am not sure, Blakely, It looks like a few citizens, not submitting to lawful search.” Gabe’s lower face could be seen. Freshly shaved with a pointed chin. All sharp angles remind Armos of a joker from the playing cards he’d seen at one of the farmer’s tables. He was the faster of the three.
“I see that too.” Gabe said. Blakely had just summoned the deadliest scalerat Armos had ever seen. He could feel the energy from it. The air sizzled with hot anticipation as nearby energy was drawn cruelly to fuel it. Seamus could hear the leaves from nearby trees crackle and curl as their life was stolen.
They were still talking but Armos could no longer hear them. Their voices drifted away and were replaced by the pounding of his heart. He could take down Blakely but would he have time to knock another arrow before Gabe could summon and release another?
In the only gamble of his life he released the arrow catching Blakely in the eye. The summoned orb hit the ground. Dirt and grass erupted in a 3 foot radius and Gabe fell backwards stunned and disoriented. Blakely fell face first driving the arrow through the base of his skull.
Seamus launched his ax at the third attacker. His iron caught the Cloak in the shoulder pinning him to the ground. Seamus leaped from Nilly’s saddle and kicked him in the face sending blood spraying from his nose and mouth. With the toe of his boot he pinned the other shoulder to the ground and wrenched his weapon free then caught the Cloaks’ temple on the backswing, knocking him unconscious.
Armos let another arrow fly, this time at Gabe. Gabe was back on his feet summoning another scalerat when the arrow went through his check and out the base of his neck. His orb did not explode.
Seamus holstered his ax on his hip and raced toward Nilly to remount. Armos had Bolt’s reins in hand but before he leaped into the saddle an arrow grazed Bolt’s rump and sent him running. This spooked Nilly and she tore off after him. Seamus and Armos met together standing back to back and looked around at the newest threat.

5 more Cloaks came into view and spread out to circle them.
Seamus gulped. “We’re fucked.”

House of House of Randoms Chapter 3



Chapter 3 Birthright

Bearne closed the front door. Ensuring it was locked. Without so much as a glance in Lad’s direction he walked toward the hearth. A low grinding sound came from the base of the wall and Bearne disappeared into darkness.
Lad’s eyes widened and he quickened his pace. Bearne had not disappeared into the wall but a secret passageway on the side of the fireplace. Lad stood there speechless as Bearne took a step down into darkness. A sconce came alight along the wall. His uncle carried no strikers; they simply caught flame as he walked, illuminating the passageway.
Bearne reached the bottom and illuminated the bowels of the House of Randoms. At his first step down the passage door behind him closed so hard that the flames danced on their wicks manipulating Lad’s shadow eerily in the passageway.
Once he reached the bottom the smell of freshly brewed tea filled the air covering the woody smell of old parchment. The walls were lined with suits of armor, weapons and relics of bygone wars. On a table next to a stand holding a very deadly looking ax were scrolls and maps. Next to that a case of green stone spear heads was laid out on a pedestal surrounding a stuffed reptile on a stand of its own.


Its golden dead eyes stared blankly in Lad’s direction. A thick layer of dust covered its bright green scales from head to tail, it was about 2 feet in length. Its slender toes were tipped with claws for climbing or rendering flesh. A ruffle of leathery skin around its head would flare should it be frightened. Lad had only ever seen the Alabochi lizard sketched in books. Its venom could kill a person in moments of entering the bloodstream; it was said Dunabi alone were immune to it.


The internal museum ended at a small kitchen, complete with a stove and dining nook. Bearne waited for Lad to emerge then held his hand out towards a round table set with tea and two chairs.
“You’ve got my attention.” Lad took one of the chairs but didn’t sit. He gripped the back of it with shaky hands. “You asked me here to mind your store while you were away, but you never left did you?”


“I never left because I had to be sure. Dunabi are seriously powerful empaths. They were held in high regard before the War of Magic. There was one in every Kingdom on the planet. They had the ability to take on the feelings of others.
“The ability to make others do what they wanted. Some were able to detect lies and could even influence the weather. Very powerful. They were instrumental in the War of Magic. Jaelon Seilar was a member of the Dunabi who helped create the weapon that destroyed Sulphuro and ended the war. The Spear of Kosmitas


“Of course after the war any race with magic abilities were feared as it was magic that started the war to begin with. It didn’t matter if they helped us win it. Eventually Dwarves, and Elves sealed off their magic gates and rarely are seen. Dunabi took to the swamps of Dunabar and Satira cut all ties and trade and Druids and small factions of people with talent mainly keep to healing. Enough to give the Cloaks of Justice something to monitor but not much else. “


“If that is all they did and the Dunabi are secluded, why was I lied to and not sent off to live with them in some swamp?” Lad grimaced and shook his head. “It makes no sense.”


Bearne nodded and placed his hands on the table. “There is more. On the night that Sulphuro was destroyed it was with the spear that Geraldine Damdara, leader of the magic council had discovered. Geraldine was Sulphuro in disguise and before he was killed it was clear that he had wanted the spear all along. He died with the threat that he was not the only one who would come for it and the time is now upon us.”


“Where is this spear now? The only people alive who knew of this weapon are long dead.” Lad scoffed, “Surely this has nothing to do with me.”


Bearne held up his index finger and waggled it in the air. “That is where you are wrong. The spear was composed of several different pieces. Those pieces were hidden by Teryn O’shean and Jaelon Sielar. It has been said that ancestors of the original creators of the weapon can recreate it. If this is true that is what the enemy will be looking to do. Starting with you. Jaelon never married or had any children. She did have a twin brother who died in the war. It was found that he had a tryst one night as soldiers do and a son was born, a son who was your great great grandfather.”


“Are there any other possible relations? Surely there must be more than just me and…”
“None. Only you.”
“And how do you know? Where are you getting this information? It could be that you are being duped.”
“ Yes it could be but I am not. I am getting my information from someone who was there. Your great great great aunt. Jaelon herself. Or her spirit rather. She never left this house. Teryn O’shean had his part too. He was not killed. He began a faction of people who made it their life’s mission to be prepared for a resurgence of Sulphuro, or anyone who would follow in his footsteps.”


Lad blinked rapidly and shook his head. “A ghost? You’ve been talking to a ghost?”
“Her soul is trapped here by the wisteria inside the hearth. The wisteria was part of the spear and the malach spear head soaked in the venom of the alabochi lizard was her dedication to the weapon. The wisteria was brought by the elf in attendance that night and it has begun to wilt for the first time in 200 years. I don’t know what it means but you need to take it with you. Take her with you. You need to go to Teryn’s keep. There Teryn left clues to where the other pieces are hidden. Two other descendants are already on their way to the keep; they are the only living ancestors as well. We are unsure who is from the druid faction or from the realm of man but you will all be hunted the moment it is learned you are needed.”


“I can’t believe this. I …” Lad tried to find the words but they fell away in his disbelief.


“You were just attacked by domon! Jaelon was there helping, the hearth the fire. You have been experiencing empathic abilities have you not? Taken on the feelings of others? Do you need more proof of what I am saying?” Bearne strode past where Lad was sitting and walked through the tiny kitchen to where the war relics were sitting in their stands.


Lad followed Bearne instinctively. He stopped in front of the ax he’d passed on his way in.


“First things first.” Bearne said “I can tell by your face you don’t like it. Why?”


Lad became aware of the frown he wore. “I’m not sure. I just don’t. It’s a weapon, it’s ugly and used to kill people.” He shrugged, “What’s to like?”


Bearne rested his hand on the ax and shook his head. “Give the boy a biscuit. He recognizes a weapon.” He yelled mockingly. “Not good enough. It was used as a tool of destruction but it’s not now. I personally think it’s rather ugly. Why don’t you like it?”


Lad shrugged again.
“When I see it. I see an inanimate object incapable of doing harm until it is used in that way. I see iron. I see wood. I feel iron and wood. Would you agree?”


“Yes of course.” Lad said.
“Okay, then touch it.”
“I don’t want to touch it.”
“It can’t hurt you so touch it.”
Lad shook his head and backed away. “I don’t want to touch it.”
“Then tell me why you don’t like it.”
Lad looked at Bearne waiting patiently then looked at the ax. He concentrated on it. He looked at it from the blade to the shaft. He noticed there were faded etchings on the blade, maybe some insignia from its creator. He noticed the blood-stained wood that had been polished.


“It killed many and its owner was grateful to it.”
“Okay.” Bearne said slowly. “How do you deduce that?”
“Well, you can see that there is blood on the handle, but it’s been polished over and over again. It seems as if the owner liked killing with it and took good care of it.”
“That’s a fair assessment. It’s good to have a trusty weapon. Like this one.” He patted the ax and then reached behind him and pulled out a small dirk from the nook of a random shelf.
“This little blade has killed at least 3 men. They may or may not have deserved it, but you can see the handle is well polished and the blade has been sharpened many times like the ax. Obviously, the owner took care of it. Here, take it.”
He held it out and Lad took it from him for closer inspection. He found what Bearne said to be right about it, but he didn’t see blood stains on it.


“You can touch that, something that has committed murder and yet you shy away from the ax. Why?”
Lad handed the dirk back to Bearne. “I honestly don’t know.” Lad said, now weighing the differences and similarities Bearne had pointed out.
“I would love to know. Wouldn’t you?”
“Are you sure there’s a reason? Can’t I just not like something?” Lad knew there was a lesson here and he was avoiding it. He felt his curiosity growing.
“Yes of course. Anyone could. But most people can touch things they don’t like.” As if to prove his point, Bearne pulled the ax out of its stand and held it in his hands. Quickly he tossed it to Lad.
Lad caught it instinctively. The second it was in his hands he was mentally transported.


————–
The cries of the wounded and dying surrounded him and he gritted his teeth. Lifting his feet for each step was slow and agonizing work. The snow had come in overnight as if the universe was lending a hand in ending the battle. Most men could not fight in a foot of snow. But he was unlike any other man.
The purest whitest snow had fallen this morning as had many of his comrades. Their blood mingled with the blood of the enemy staining the valley red as far as the eye could see.
As he fought through hordes of capital soldiers. He tore through them with deft swings of iron, cleaving flesh from bone and littering the ground with their limbs. They were merely annoying flies to him. Insects. The real enemy was two yards away and his sights were set. Everything he slaughtered between him and his true target were merely stepping stones.
A young soldier came at him from the left with a hatchet and dagger. He swung his ax and caught him mid-stride sending the offending weapons in opposite directions as his blade severed an arm at the shoulder. The soldier fell in agony. He marched on. Forward, towards the man that had taken and murdered his daughters and wife.
He’d taken many lives today. He had tasted much blood and yet he thirsted for more. The one life that would satisfy it was now a stride away. His…was the skull that he would set atop the mantle on his fireplace and fill with his wine. His skull that would wet his thirst every night before he slept.
The great Roughstone warrior drew back for the final swing. The swing of his life to end another. His chest and arms flexed and tensed. A deadly spring ready to release. Just seconds away from victory. Blood covered his face from the onslaught of bodies he’d splayed across the red snow and ran into his mouth as he called out his victory roar and then his target turned swiftly, the hum of steel soaring in the cold air filled his ears. He felt only wrath.
The ax slipped from his hands. His blood-soaked body fell to the snow. Kneeling in front of the man who deserved to die more than anyone who’d ever walked the earth, he gave a final cry of rage before his head fell forward into the snow to lie at his enemy’s feet.

———-


The ax slipped from Lad’s hands to the floor with a clattering of metal. He opened his eyes. He was relieved to see the room. He still tasted the blood, the sweat. He felt the cold. He felt the loss and defeat and rage. He felt his neck being severed and reached up frantically to ensure it was still attached.
Bearne gave him a moment to catch his breath then asked again.
“Why don’t you like the ax, Lad?”
“Because it failed.”


“It did indeed. Hold out your hand.
Lad looked at him cautiously but seeing the man so expectant Lad did as he was asked. Bearne placed a cold green spearhead in his hand. It was bound to a leather cord.
“This was Jaelon’s dedication to the spear. It is a Dunabi spearhead, drenched with alabochi lizard venom. If you cut yourself with it, you may get a little sick to the stomach and have a mild skin irritation, anyone not Dunabi will die within minutes if they’re cut with it. So be careful. Untrained as you are, it might knock you out for a day the first time. As long as it is touching your skin your abilities will have a lessened effect. Go on. Tie it around your neck. I fashioned the cord for you, for convenient travel.”
Lad inspected the green spearhead carefully. “I can’t believe I am doing this.” He gulped hard and his hands shook. It took his hands a few tries to get the cord knotted trembling as they were.
“Now, touch the ax again.”
Lad reached out and put his hand on the blade. He wasn’t transferred mentally to the Roughstone mountain battle. He wasn’t in a snow filled valley surrounded by blood and guts.
A smile spread across his lips. “There’s nothing. Only an ax.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s all true isn’t it?”
Bearne had picked up a satchel and began stuffing things inside. Scrolls and clothes that had been staged neatly close by on a shelf. “Yes it is. You will need to leave here at once. I have packed some disguises for you, a Cloak of Justice disguise, avandian nobility and a few other things that may prove useful.”
“I have a feeling what you’re setting me up for is going to get me killed.”
“We are all at risk. You are one of the few people that can help us defeat this threat. Of course, you can say no. You can continue to sell your hats and plants and run your shop . If that is what you truly want. I won’t stop you. But eventually, they will come for you. Sulphuro wants the spear, and he can’t get that without you.” Bearne patted the Malach on Lad’s chest and smiled. “At least with this your empathic gifts are under some control. And of course the others are heading to Teryn’s keep. With cloak infested Sholmire they may be in greater danger than we thought. Have you decided if you’re in?”
“Don’t be daft! Of course I’m in.”
“First you must head to Teryn’s keep. There is a map in here should you need it but I don’t think you will. Be careful going through Sholmire. If anyone asks, you are Avandian. You will take some silks and things for a little show. You are taking a pilgrimage to Salasha Peak if anyone asks. During the Roughstone War the Avandians lent a hand on the northern border and many died. That will explain your next direction.
“You will need to head to the Roughstones once you’ve finished at Teryn’s keep. While on the road keep a look out for a dwarf cuid and an elf cuid.”
“Cuid? You mean halfblood?” Lad said.
“Yes, and a good thing too, it will help them be less noticeable. It is important you are together at Teryn’s keep.
Lad watched as Bearne went from cabinet to cabinet, shelf to shelf rifling through things to pack. He listened as the old man recited important things to remember and what to get where.
“Now that your gifts have awakened they will be growing stronger. You must be careful until you get some training. A few things I am supposed to tell you about;
1. Only lift the Malach if you are in a safe position. You can take on someone else’s feelings as your own and that includes physical as well as emotional. You don’t want to fall in the wrong place or be crippled with pain in a fight.
2. Don’t remove it during sleep.
3. Don’t let the Malach touch any other piece of the spear. Don’t let the pieces touch at all.”

“Okay, that is good to know. Anything else?”
“Yeah, don’t lose it.”
“Why the Roughstones?”
“You’ll need somewhere safe to go and a safe place to store the pieces of the spear as you find them. Master magician Ren of the Roughstone tribes will help you.” Bearne handed Lad the heavy satchel and he expected to fall over from the weight. He may have been carrying a bag of feathers instead of a satchel filled with everything Bearne had stuffed inside.
Bearne stood next to the bottom step of the passageway and looked up. “We are ready Jealon.” From his pocket he removed a small wooden box with peculiar etchings on it in a language Lad did not recognize. Bearne flipped open the lid revealing what looked to be silk inlay. The floorboards above their heads creaked and groaned. Wood cracked and splintered as the floorboards separated. A purple glow filled the darkness. Lad could see the flames from the fireplace through the translucent aura.
Peering from the bottom up into the fireplace Lad could make out the twists and curves of Wisteria vines. A small cluster of blossoms began to lower, surrounded by the aura of light. It pulsed slightly. The purple haze drifted quietly into the box and the lid snapped shut.
Bearne wiped a tear from his eye and gently placed the box in Lad’s hands gently. “Destroying that domon took a lot of energy from her. Once you find the elf some of it should be returned.”
How was he going to find them? What did they know? Would they even want to work with him? Did they have special abilities too? He truly hoped he could find them before the Cloaks did.

House of Randoms Chapter 2 Tim’s Trough

Chapter 2 Tim’s Trough

“Tim’s Trough”.  Lad read aloud. The sign had been freshly painted for the spring market. It depicted a large mug of ale in front of a hitching post and a man on his knees dunking his head into the mug. He chuckled at the silliness of it and opened the door. 

A bell chimed as he entered and the bartender gave him a friendly wave. There were lamps scattered throughout the lobby and glasses clinked as people cheered and tapped along to the flute player’s newest tune. Anyone not paying attention to the music watched Lad curiously as he made his way to the bar. Lad was grateful to get the feeling of mild curiosity instead of malice. 

“You’re Bearne’s nephew I take it. Lad, something or other.” The short barkeep filled a mug and set it on the counter. “I was wondering when you’d show yourself. First one is on the house.” 

“Yes I am. And thank you.” Lad took the stool closest to the mug and sat down. “How are you called, sir?”

The bartender chuckled, “No one’s called me sir since I served in the army. Haha. You can call me Tim. Like the sign out front.”

“Nice to meet you Tim.”

“Likewise. Lot of folks have been curious about you.” Tim began to put away clean mugs from a cart under the bar. 

“I apologize I have not been out and about much. I have been trying to get the shop ready for the start of the market. I met Mrs. Doris Grenin today and a Mr. Tiddlygo.”  

 “Oh, Two Bit Tiddely is always sour. The only person he actually ever seemed to like was Bearne. I am sure he’s upset you were left in charge of the place and not him. I can’t imagine why. Your uncle put up with him for no reason I can say. Are you liking it there?” 

Lad took a sip of the dark rich ale. It was thick and delicious. 

    “It is a nice place. I wouldn’t have left it tonight except I heard the music. He’s very good. Does he play here often?” 

       “No, he’s passing through. Offered his skills for a discount. It happens a lot this time of year. I best get his supper for him. Are you eating with us tonight?” 

“I’ve had my dinner this evening thank you, but I will be having one more of these.” Lad lifted the mug towards Tim before taking another satisfying swig. 

Tim stood up a little taller and puffed out his broad chest.

 “I brewed that myself. There’s always plenty of it here but it’s stronger than it tastes so be careful.” He wiped his hands on his stained apron and dipped through a swinging door into the kitchen. 

    People clapped and clinked their glasses as the song ended and the flute player took a gracious bow before catching the coins they tossed with his cap. 

    “Thank you all!” He smiled broadly and bowed. “You are a lovely crowd. I’m going to grab a bite of Tim’s delicious food and then I shall return.”  

    He was a short fellow and rather slender with high cheekbones and dark eyebrows. He had large brown eyes and a wide smile. His hat was plumed with one white feather that sat at a jaunty angle on his head. Lad couldn’t remember when he’d seen someone so pleasant looking before. Like this young man had no worries in the world. 

    He walked quickly and with purpose and sat a stool away from Lad at the bar. He removed his plumed hat and sat it on the bar before digging out the coins he’d caught. Lad was surprised they’d not fallen out when he’d donned it again. 

“I enjoyed the tunes.” Lad said with a smile. 

 “Thank you.” The flutist glanced up quickly to acknowledge the compliment then looked back down at his coins. As soon as the door opened to the kitchen and he saw Tim he smiled wide again and rubbed his hands together. 

“Oh, thank you.” He said, “I am starving.” 

Lad’s own stomach growled as the smells from the plate entered his nose. Beef tips in gravy with carrots and mashed potatoes and a fresh yeast roll with butter. 

    “Well there’s plenty of it. No one goes hungry at the Trough.” Tim said, patting his own stomach. “As you can see.” He laughed heartily and filled a mug of ale for the young man then went to check on the tables of patrons. 

Lad watched out of the corner of his eye as the young man soaked his roll in the thick savory gravy and could almost taste it himself as the food disappeared. For a moment he felt sick and weak like he’d not eaten all day himself. 

He’d not seen anyone gobble food like that since he’d lived at the workhouse. Lad sipped his beer and shook his head. It was probably just the memories that turned his stomach. 

“When was the last time you’ve eaten?” He asked the young flute player.

The man guzzled a big drink of ale. “About a day. Being on the road is like that more often than not.” He took a few more bites and then continued. “This year is leaner than usual. I stopped in Sholmire to get my supplies but they were short on everything this year. Cloaks of Justice cleaned them out.”

“Cloaks of Justice? In Sholmire? That’s a way away from the capital, isn’t it?”Lad was puzzled. The Cloaks of Justice had been assembled in the capital after the war 200 hundred years ago. They were assembled to root out magic born peoples who sought to harm humans. Since then most of the magic born kept to themselves. In the passing years, the Cloaks had become a small police force who kept mainly to the capital, only venturing out when summoned for a specific concern. 

“Any idea what had brought them out that far?” Lad asked. He noticed the young man’s plate was clean already and the rumbling in his own stomach had subsided. 

        “That was delicious. Have you eaten here?”  The man sipped his ale and wiped his face with his sleeve. 

       “Not yet, but I am sure I will soon enough.” 

    “You should.” His hand glided over his plate and he picked up the very last crumb from it with the tip of his finger and licked it off.   

“As far as the Cloaks of Justice no one seemed to know. There were rumors they’d set up camp somewhere close to Sholmire. There was a rumor of prisoners as well, as to their crime I haven’t a clue. But the Cloaks seem to expect more trouble as they’ve started recruiting. I’ve seen them in a few villages this spring. One of my friends tried to talk me into joining. He said the pay is good and I was half tempted to after a day with no food or work but…” He shook his head and a dark look shrouded his face. 

Lad began to feel uneasy and rolled his shoulders as if to shrug it away.  

“Well I saw him, Nortan, a week ago and you know he wasn’t quite the same. He didn’t even recognize me. I tried talking to him and it’s like he didn’t even know me.”

“What happened?” Lad asked. He didn’t usually pry into the business of strangers but as the man spoke he felt his concern for this man Nortan grow.

 Lad gulped hard. The feelings he thought he’d left in the capital had indeed followed him; he would be more concerned about that if he was not so concerned with the fate of Nortan.

“Well, I guess I got a little loud when I was asking him what his problem was. Before I knew it one huge officer told me to beat it. I started to protest but saw the other officers wising up to a problem and I ended up leaving.”

Saddened and slightly frightened by the story, Lad shook off a chill. “Maybe it was a bad time or something. You know, like an investigation.”

“Yeah, I thought the same thing just after but then I remembered his eyes.” The flutist lined up his first two fingers with his own eyes before dropping his hand back to the mug. “Blank and cold. Like the lamp was on but no one was home. People say soldiering changes you, maybe they are right, but Tim’s not like that.” the flutist shuddered. 

“ I can still see his face. I am Andre by the way.” He offered his hand across the stool between them. 

“Lad.” Lad reached out and shook the man’s hand. In that instant the image of a cloak clad young man  with dark hair and green eyes popped into his head. His eyes were cold and unfeeling. His face was unsmiling. The image entered his mind as if on a cloud of smoke. When he released Andre’s hand it disappeared just as quickly leaving behind traces of rejection and apprehension.

Had he been standing up he would have lost his balance. Instead he pitched forward slightly and caught himself on the middle stool. 

“Didn’t I tell you about the ale?” Tim walked up to the bar with empty glasses. “You almost fell over there. Are you sure you don’t need anything to eat? Andre can attest to its palatability.” 

“You were right about the ale.” Lad said, trying to regain his composure. He looked at Andre’s empty plate. “I assure you I feel quite full. I will just finish this one though, it seems to have gone straight to my head.” 

“Very well. What about you Andre, did you get enough?” 

“I did, and thank you.” Andre slid a few coins to Tim. “Now if you’ll excuse me my public awaits.” He donned his cap and took a quick bow. The single large white feather commanding the side of the black felt with a soft swaying motion as he straightened quickly and almost glided back to the stage. His energy was contagious and Lad felt the urge to move. 

    He rose quickly and finished his ale. “I best be off as well. Have a good night Tim and thank you for the ale.”  

    Tim disappeared into the crowd and Lad slipped out of the pub. It was easier for him to blame his unsteadiness on the ale but that wasn’t what caused it. Ale wasn’t what had been causing the barrage of emotions he’d been feeling in the capital either. Now that he was alone his stomach wasn’t rumbling and he wasn’t concerned for a man he’d never met. He was simply himself.  Whatever that meant anymore.

    Stopping in the middle of the cobbled street in the cool evening air he took a deep breath. The sound from the flute began again, this time it was a more melancholy tune and a tear welled up in his eye.  

    “What is happening to me?” He wiped his eyes and quickened his steps to the House of Randoms. In a moment he was running. He ran up the few steps and went to unlock the door. Once his key slipped inside he froze. A cool spring evening felt like the middle of winter and he could see his breath. His hand trembled on the key. 

    Something was behind him. He could sense it. He could sense its evil. Lad could feel its curiosity as it hovered behind him. He could feel it sizing him up hungrily. Acrid wafts of the creature’s breath drifted on the frozen air. He felt the creature coil up as a snake ready to strike. Lad forced himself beyond fear to unlock the door and he did so just lunging forward a breath before the creature. Lad did not unlatch the door but it was opened and he fell through it and rolled as he hit the floor to face his attacker. A black blob of smoke was inches away from his face. 

Just as Lad felt the creature touch him the fire in the hearth leaped forth and reached out with flaming tendrils. Lad screamed as did the creature. A blood curdling wordless shriek. The flaming fingers reached into the creatures gaping toothless maw lighting it up from the inside out. 

Lad wriggled and gasped on the ground as he saw the creature struggle. Then another feeling creeped up inside him. Victory. He let out a yell of rage and rose quickly to his feet. He stared at the monster with fearlessness intent on watching it be torn apart. 

The flames reached from inside out where a belly might have been then and forced its way out. Splitting it in two. Black goo splattered across the book stand and hat rack of the House of Randoms. The fiery tendrils withdrew quickly and retreated into the hearth once more. The empty shell of what was left of his faceless attacker hit the floor in a lifeless splash. 

Lad took a deep breath and collapsed. “What is happening to me?” He cried and scrambled away from the puddle and the hearth, eyes wide with fear and confusion. “Why?”

“You are destined to be a great and powerful Dunabi empath and your powers are growing.”

A man came into view from the side of the fireplace. Lad looked quickly around the room for a weapon of any kind when the fire illuminated the face of his uncle. 

“Bearne?” He panted and shook his head. His mouth moved with the intention to ask a dozen questions but he could not seem to fully form them. 

“It’s time you and I have a chat.”  

House of Randoms chapter 1

Chapter 1 Lad

“Welcome to the House of Randoms! Home of the only Haberdashery in the village. Hats galore inside this store with new designs straight from Doralnine. You can even place an order to buy your maps or try peat coals to warm your forge. Hotter than anything you’ve tried before!” 

Lad stood near the open window and looked out toward the street. The caller kept on through the quickened paces and polite head shakes. The man he’d hired was certainly earning his coin. 

The colorful carts of spring fruits and vegetables attracted the eye. Warm freshly baked bread beckoned everyone in range of the tantalizing smells. Lad inhaled deeply the scent of honey cakes and watched as most of the crowd followed their eyes and noses to something other than his goods.

“Apothecary, natural remedies for pain. Bones achy when it rains? Find out what we have in store at the House of Randoms. Now under new management.” He shouted and called holding up vials of hand crafted medicines and scented oil

All that rejection surely would have impacted him. In the busy streets of Doralnine, he had been having difficulty distinguishing his feelings amidst the hundreds of other unhappy or disgruntled people  passing by.  

    He’d spoken to Goddard about it who had suggested it was probably just the changes they faced and that a change of scenery would do him good. Not long after,  he’d gotten a letter from Bearne. His uncle in Gainesbrig who was in need of someone to mind his store. 

    Until a few months ago Lad had no idea he’d had an uncle. He grew up an orphan in Doralnine, the capital of Satira. Bearne seemed to like the idea of having a nephew he never knew about and had come to visit Lad at the haberdashery only once before it was sold and he ended up needing someone who knew their way around a shop just as  Lad needed a change of scenery. Lad would have called it fate if he believed in such a thing. 

    The fire in the hearth flared with a whoosh and Lad jumped, snapping out of his memories in time to notice a lady nod politely to the caller and walk towards the House of Randoms. He giggled like a schoolgirl and gave the store a once over to make sure everything was in place. 

    The fire was warm and inviting. A fragrance burner of his own invention emitted fresh scent throughout the store. It was a simple design; a small candle heated a pot above it with oil and the warmth caused it to permeate throughout the rooms. 

He had several oils that he’d bottled and paired with clay pots and small candles. The scents included rose, lilac, and cinnamon. He could concoct many others but today he’d chosen sweet grass.  It was light and airy, and he could think of nothing better to complement the beginnings of spring.

The bell above the door jangled as she opened it and stepped in. 

“Welcome to the House of Randoms.” He said with a bow. “How can I be of service?” 

She was of middle age and to his dismay already had a hat. Her eyes widened a bit when she looked at him. Obviously not expecting someone with his complexion. He kept a kind smile plastered to his face. It was no surprise people from this small village had not seen anyone like him before but it still stung. 

“I hear you sell herbs.” She said, “Do you have fresh herbs or simply dried exports?” She tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow. Lad stiffened slightly but managed to keep his smile. 

“I have both but my pride is my living garden. If you will follow me.”  

He moved ahead of her and led her through the main store and out the door in the back. It was walled off on the outside to keep people from stealing his profits, but open atop to allow plenty of sunshine. There were stepped eaves attached to the roof and each one had several rungs across it holding different herbs in hanging pots. Some were for cooking and some for healing. 

Farther to the outside wall were more eves containing fern and broadleaf plants and flowers one might use for landscaping or topiaries or for a decorative garden. He heard her breath catch at the sight of it. 

“It is surely a sight, Mr…”

“Lad, Lad Drealle. But you can just call me Lad. I have a bit of a green thumb as the 

herbs have come from all over the realm, they are marked for your convenience. Are you a connoisseur of plants, Ms..?”

    She turned from admiring the display of mints hanging on the first eve and nodded slightly, “Mrs. Doris Grenin”, she replied, making emphasis of the Mrs. “Not especially.” 

    “Is this a common fern? Who would buy one in a pot?” Her eyes were big and bright as she took everything in. She reached out to lightly caress a leaf or a blossom with youthful wonder. 

    Lad stepped quickly beside her. “Mainly people who work in the capital like them. They are sometimes stuck indoors all day and it helps to have a little green to brighten things up. I know it will probably be seen as silly here but I am certain it will catch on. Never too early to plant the seed so to speak.” He chuckled slightly but if she got the joke she did not let it show. 

“You’ll find less scholars and more farmers here in Gainesbrig I am afraid but I can see this being popular in a study. You do have a green thumb. I would like to have a look around. I will call you if I need you.” 

Just then the bell rang over the door again. “Very good Mrs. Grenin. I shall leave you to it.”. An elderly man was entering with a sour look on his face as Lad emerged. 

“Welcome to  the House of Randoms. Is there anything I can help you find sir?”

His look turned from sour to curious when his eyes landed on Lad.

 “Where’s Bearne gone off to?” 

“Oh my uncle is traveling abroad and asked me to mind the store while he is away. Are you a friend of his?” 

“Bearne is always traveling, but he never leaves without telling me. If you ask me, there’s something not right about it.” He eyed Lad up and down and glanced about the room as if he expected Bearne to be hiding somewhere. 

The hearth flared up again. Bright hot flames rose quickly and then died down. Drawing both their attention to it. 

“Why does that keep happening?” Lad thought to himself. He quickly walked to the open window and closed it. “Must be a draft.”  Lad shook off a chill and turned back to the old man.

  “You must be Mr. Tiddlygo.” Lad said brightly, putting the fireplace flare up out of his mind. “He mentioned you in his letters. He’s very fond of you and said you’ve always taken such good care of the place on his previous outings. I am sure my uncle didn’t mean to leave you out. I have no reason to believe anything out of the ordinary has taken place.” Lad felt the old man’s uneasiness and became curious. “Do you have reason to be concerned?”

The old man stiffened and he looked around warily before opening his mouth again. “Something is just not right. Bearne takes off leaving a nephew in charge. A nephew who has never been to visit him even once and who looks nothing like him. And just last night I saw a strange man poking about in town. Come to think of it was probably you.  ”

Lad was beginning to get the impression that he was on a trial of some sort. He kept his smile polite, “I stepped outside last night after dark. I was finishing setting up this shop right and had gone to the back to retrieve some of the books I’d left in my cart. I saw no one and did not leave the premises.” 

Mr. Tiddleygo chewed on his lip as his eyes narrowed at Lad weighing every word. “I saw this person on the other side of the baker’s. People don’t put up with suspicious activity in these parts. I am sure I’ll get to the bottom of it eventually.”

“I am sure you will. I was going to head to the pub for a pint after I close up tonight, would you care to join me? I would like to get better acquainted with my new neighbors.” 

Mr. Tiddleygo shook his head. “I don’t touch the stuff, and not much to tell. Keep yourself out of trouble.” The old man turned and hobbled through the door.

As the door closed a painting clattered to the floor. Lad swallowed hard as he reached down to inspect it for damages. When he found it to be in good condition he inspected the hook. That too appeared to be in order. Perhaps it was the door closing or just another gust of wind. He placed the painting back on the wall and hurried to check on Mrs. Grenin, putting thoughts of strange men lurking and ghostly gusts out of his mind.

The caller had told Lad that opening day had been a success if he had even one paying customer. People in these parts took time to get used to new things. As it was, he had two. Mrs. Grenin who purchased a bundle of licorice root, eyebright, and a book titled, “20 Teas from under the Sea.” and a girl of about 16 years with an interest in writing books. If she was successful, he could probably count on a repeat customer for ink refills. 

He had a bite to eat of cold chicken and snow peas then counted his money and filled in the ledger and made the inventory adjustments. 

    “Not bad.” He told himself as he lit a pipe and locked up. “Not bad at all.” He put the coin he’d earned in a small safe when his ears picked up a melody. It was coming from the pub.  He had not yet been there but it was simple enough to follow the cheerful tune of a flute straight to it and before he knew it that’s exactly where his feet led him.

Every Map needs a Key

I am having a difficult time finding camaraderie in writing. I have coworkers and supervisors ask me about my book and I am grateful to indulge them with a small update. The fact that someone is interested not only makes me happy but helps keep working on it. It helps to know you have people out there who are waiting on it. But it is exceedingly difficult to find people who will actually take the time to read what I’ve written. I can’t tell you how many times I have shared my drive with family and friends and they didn’t even open it.

Even my own mother,bless her heart, said she would be happy to read it if I printed it out and mailed it to her. Its a 200+ page manuscript, does she realize how many resources that would take just to get it to her?

Another thing that is difficult is when I come across people who know authors, authors themselves, or family who just don’t seem to sparkle a little when I bring it up. My story could be the dumbest manuscript ever written and it may suck. I don’t think it is but it could be and I could see why people wouldn’t want to discuss it with me but these people have shut it down without any information other than I am writing it. Why is that?

I ran into a lady at work the other day who wrote and self published 29 books or something like that. She boldly said I write books on my off days. I lit up like a Christmas tree at the possibility of a comrade in a universe that is new to me.

I said, “Really? Me too.”

She said, “I write Thriller Mystery novels.”

I said, “I am working on an epic fantasy.”

My associate was with me at the time and loves the mystery thriller genre and said, “Yeah she has a map and everything.”

The author said, “All fantasy writers have a map.”

I said, “I’ve got to so I can make sure I keep track of my world. If Salasha Peak is North of the Rougshtone Mountain Range I want to make sure it stays there.” (Real places in my story)

She said, “My world is all in my brain.”

Good for her am I right? But my map has a key and everything.

Now I may be completely wrong but I felt she was kind of flippant and dismissive. I felt right then and there that she had no interest in talking about my world or my beautiful map. I had no intention of selling her on a book that is not even finished. Instead I had wanted to ask her some questions about formats and self publishing since she’s had lots of practice. I didn’t want to after that.

I didn’t say anything else as she spoke to my associate and shared a business card. I even took one. I would love to say I didn’t take it personally but I totally did.

Do writers only talk to other writers if they write the same genre? I have started stories of different genres before and I am not partial to one over another but I feel like the Epic Fantasy does not get as much love as it deserves. This is not the first time I have been snubbed by a writer.

I have also had people that I got excited to share my stuff with only to be told they don’t like that genre. I assumed because some of these people have known me for many years they would be happy to give it a try as favor. Nope, no favors here. I only get let down when I get excited or have an expectation. So from here on out my expectations will be the ones I set for myself.

I cherish the people that allow me to speak to them about it and ask how its going. It encourages me to ask people about things they are working on that I wouldn’t have otherwise had an interest in. This practice has given me a POC in many things now. Golden-doodles, Chickens, Homesteading, Goat Farming, Computer building and the list goes on the only one I am missing is a comrade in Epic fantasy. I believe I have a key. The two directions it has is forward and through. I am a world builder and I am in the process of creating an Epic Fantasy expert!

Breaking Out

I just found out I had created this profile 6 years or so ago to build a readership for my writing.

I heard it helped to have a blog. Goofy poor misguided me put everything on hold for work and family. I did nothing with it. Lo and behold I am back shortly after I began to start taking myself and dreams seriously.

Guess what, that family and job I put me on hold for they’re still here. They didn’t go anywhere. I am two high school graduates richer now with two more right behind them. I’ve gotten some promotions and bought a house since then too. My dream did not go away. Everything I put it away for I am doing it now under similar circumstances. I just needed to change my priorities. It does not need to be either or. I can do me and have a career and be a writer and a mom and a wife. If the writing does not become a successful career that’s okay because I won’t stop, ever! I know that now. I never stopped before I just took a lot of breaks.

I didn’t want to waste my time on something I couldn’t be lucrative at. I felt guilty for time spent. What did I do instead? Read or watch tv? Pfft. Thats a real trade off.

I read somewhere once that sex drives everyone to do everything from what they eat to what they wear and the places they live. Every decision they make is to give them the best chances for sex or procreation. It seems valid but I have found that shame and guilt are just as effective in our decision making processes. Or maybe it’s the antithesis of the sex bit. Instead of guiding us to a series of actions it can paralyze us. Freeze us into inaction or even, similar to its sultry counterpart, have us committed to lies. Lies we tell ourselves or lies others tell us that we believe in to avoid shame or actions that would put us closer to learning the truth and acting on it. It’s no wonder that shame and sex go hand so much of the time.

I, like the rest of the world today seem to be waking up. I withheld writing some of the things I wanted to because I was afraid of blasphemy or what my or my husband’s parents would think. I feel cured of that. I sent my rough draft in for editing that I paid for myself. I had written a part about an erection a character of mine had gotten from a dream. I described it as rigid. My editor said in his notes. “As having a penis myself, I have never described it as rigid.” There it was. A simple critique to one of the most basic things in life and something I had been tiptoeing around, at least in my brain because I have 4 kids so me and penises aren’t strangers, but this thing that I was so afraid of shaming myself in front of my family for discussing was just plain silly now. Since the moment I read that I have begun to see guilt patterns in a lot of things I do. Most of it. No f that…all of it is silly so far. If anything around here was rigid it was me.

I think it came from having zero privacy growing up and everyone always wanted to dig in to whatever I did. I was a big sissy after all and had to be a good role model. There’s more I’m sure but I think I found the root.

I am writing an epic fantasy that has blood and guts and demons and sex so there. Who cares? If you don’t like it don’t read it. Shame will no longer rule me and guilt will not guide my way any longer. I am coming out of my shell and I am here to stay or at least my books will be once I am done with them! Thanks for reading!