Actual Tears

As a writer, my job is to inspire people. To fill them with feelings. To give them a world of their own, that everyone can share. Perhaps the best part of my job is seeing what my readers take away, and what my words inspire them to do. When a reader can take the fruits of my labor, and put their own life into it, create something new and special of their own, I’ll admit, I often tear up. It’s the most amazing feeling there is. Which is why today, I’ve chosen to share some fan art that my longest standing BETA reader created for Outspoken. I get chills every time I see them in my room, and her talent is stunning. I hope you all appreciate it as much as I do!

Lucian and Elisha by Jillian Ickes

Caillte and Pip by Jillian Ickes.

War and Peace

For the last week, I’ve been splurging where Shakespeare is concerned. I’ve immersed myself in his plays, setting in on my goal of experiencing all of his works in some form – recording, film, print, or live – by the end of the year. I’ve wanted to do this for some time, and decided this summer was the perfect time to start, since I will be taking a course on Shakespeare and His World this coming semester. I have been a huge fan of his works for as long as I can remember, and he continues to be a huge inspiration to me.

However, this post is not meant to be an exhortation to Shakespeare. My topic is, in fact, one of my current works in progress, Outspoken, and a special little something that arose for it from my Shakespearean splurge. This project is the longest I have ever written, sitting at 85,000 words with quite a ways still to go. It’s a tale too vast to summarize here, though looking through my other posts on the subject may give you some idea. It explores human nature, the will to survive, the grey area between right and wrong, just and unjust, and so much more. It covers a long period of time, and the story so far has contrasted a time of peace in the kingdom with the lives of strife for it’s individual inhabitants. However, the country is taking a turn, and as it does, drastic changes are coming about in the lives of my characters. War is breaking out, and a three way struggle for power is on the rise. However, in the midst of this, peace is found for some individuals, along with a sense of belonging.

The main character of this story, Lucian, is the perfect example of this. He has led a harsh life thus far, filled with loss and suffering, where he has been lead to believe that he exists only for the use and abuse of others, and furthermore thinks that he deserves what he gets. But as the world around him is changing, his eyes are being opened to a larger picture – one in which he has unknowingly played a large role, and will have more yet to do. His actions are finally beginning to make sense to him, and for the first time in his life he feels like a valued, useful individual. He has somewhere to belong, and important work to do.

While reading Shakespeare’s Henry V, I came across a brief passage that seemed to scream of Lucian, and the entire cast of Outspoken. While attempting to break my temporary writers’ block early this afternoon, the passage kept surfacing in my mind, and I finally chose to do something with it, just to get my creative juices flowing again. What sprung from this decision is, undoubtedly, my favorite photo edit for Outspoken yet. I hope you enjoy it as I and my BETA readers did.

MONSTER Release, Amazon Blitz, Storm the Shelves!

 

It’s here! Mirriam Neal’s fabulous new release, Monster, has stormed the shelves!

I have had the incredible pleasure of seeing this fantastic story develop from the very beginning, and have been jumping up and down with Mirriam all morning. My words cannot do this book justice, so I’ll have to let it speak for itself. I haven’t enjoyed a read like this in a very long time, nor have I ever been so content to let the heart many say I don’t have be crushed into tiny little brittle shards.

Now, it’s not very often that I ask my readers for favors, but today I am making an exception. This amazing young lady has worked so hard to make this book release possible, and she is more deserving of this than nearly anyone I’ve ever met. Myself and a number of others have been doing our best to support her in this, and today we want to help her ratings on Amazon soar. So we are asking everyone we know to please consider supporting her today and purchasing a copy of Monster. The more copies she sells, the higher her rating will climb, and the more attention she’ll get. So lets storm the shelves, and give this remarkable woman the best Amazon Blitz the web has ever seen! You can find Monster by clicking on her remarkable cover above.

Life Goes On

Well, this weekend was quite an emotional one in my beloved Ohio Virtual Academy. Myself and around 300 of my graduating class headed down to Columbus for our commencement ceremony, and while the day was marvelous, the night was full of bittersweet tears as we bid our fellows farewell. We succeeded in attaining the goal we set out for four years ago and received our diplomas, but in doing so we said goodbye to some of the best memories we’ve ever made.

Since then, I’ve been fighting a cold, working away at Outspoken and my rewrite/final edits of Breaking Shadows: Bold between shifts at work, and had a couple of wonderful late night plot bunny Skype sessions with my amazing Cait to work out the kinks in Bold. Altogether, summer has so far been quite full of exciting happenings, and I’ve been very busy. I am planning on posting some new snippets from my works in progress soon, when I get the chance. Until then, I hope we’re all eagerly awaiting the release of Mirriam Neal’s Monster!

 

Big News Times Two, an Update, and a Prologue

Alright, all you beautiful readers out there, I’ve got some big bits of news for you, fit to blow the tail off a whale. Ready?

First up, an exciting new ebook release by the marvelous duo, Emily and Amanda Bradburn. These remarkable young ladies – both wonderful friends of mine whom you may recognize as the antagonists of my character interviews, with their endless questions – have just released the first short story in a series by the name of The Underthieves. This first story, Little Red Robin Hood, explores the life of young Robin Hood and his adventures. Though aimed at a younger crowd, it’s sure to be thrilling for any audience.

Next, the amazing Mirriam Neal has just set the release date for her debut novel, Monster, for June 15th. I’ve had the pleasure of acting as one of her BETA readers on this project, and let me tell you: this book is a ground shaker. It is a beautiful work of heart, and I can’t wait to get my paper and ink copy. It will hold a place of honor upon my bookshelf, even when it’s old and worn thin. I don’t pick favorites when it comes to books, but if I did… this one would be quite high on the list. It inspired my own writing to new heights, and I’m honored to have taken any part in it.

For more information on these releases and a sneak peek at Monster, check out Mirriam’s post about them here.

As for the update promised in the title of this post, I have begun my final round of rewrites, revisions, and edits on the first book in my Breaking Shadows series, Bold. It needs a lot of work still, but I’m very excited with how it’s turning out. I hope to have this finished and published by the end of summer, so keep your eyes open for further announcements here and on the Breaking Shadows Project blog!

And finally, as this is a writing blog, I’ve decided to share with you the prologue to my other work in progress, Outspoken. I do hope you enjoy it.

We’d always known it could happen. We knew the protocols; we’d performed all the drills. But when the time came, we discovered we weren’t ready – not in slightest.

The night was dark, the moon nowhere to be found. There was a chill in the air that not even the numerous blazing fireplaces of the palace could quench. The sharp buzzing of an oncoming storm was heavy on the wind, and everyone could feel the ominous tension of something about to happen. Maybe that’s why we weren’t on guard – we were so preoccupied with our dread of what was coming that we didn’t see it right under our noses. The kingdom had been at peace for so long, we assumed any danger would come from beyond our borders. We never considered it could be lurking within the very palace walls.

I was guarding the prince’s quarters that night. Never one to stand still long, I was at the end of the hall when it began. An ear-splitting scream shook the walls of the royal wing, and guards rushed to the king and queen’s chamber from every direction. Something compelled me to return to the prince – maybe fate, or destiny, or just lucky cowardice – and praise be to Elyon I did. The scream was naught but a decoy. By the time I reached his door a gang of assassins in servants’ clothes was there, ready to enter. They were caught off guard, shocked I hadn’t followed the others. In their split moment of hesitation, I managed to break between them and the door, driving them back. Somehow, I made it inside and threw the dresser down before it, effectively barring their passage. The clamor woke the young prince in a panic, and I urged him forward. We made for the secret tunnels with haste, and I was exceedingly glad for the torch I bore into their dark, endless abyss.

The prince, though shaken, kept cool. We made it out of the palace walls and into the safe house in the city beyond, where we fully expected his family to converge with us. But as minutes turned to hours and the black of night began to fade into a dark morning grey, hope was slipping through our nervous fingers. More than once, he tried to go back. He was certain the danger had passed and the precautious escape had been called off, deemed unnecessary. But I kept him back, begging him to wait just a little longer.

When he finally snapped, letting his mask of diplomacy slip to reveal that pure fear of a child and refusing to wait for word to come any longer, I calmed him down and went myself. It was hardly two steps beyond the doorpost that I caught wind of the disastrous news.

“The entire royal family? None of them made it out alive?” A nobleman’s wife whispered in the street.

“None, m’lady.” Her driver responded darkly, with a crestfallen air.

“They’re certain?”

“We can’t be certain of anything in times like this. Rumor has it the knights are sweeping the area, but you know as well as I how worthless rumors can be.”

The prince refused to believe it at first. Scared out of his mind, he was. But I knew the traitor had his men on our tail, and I was responsible for his safety. Beneath the filthy guise of beggars, I snuck him to my meager household. My wife and firstborn son were at their wits end when we arrived, having heard the guards had all been sentenced to death for their loyalty. Without another word, I sent them packing hurriedly, only the essentials that could be gathered quickly. We planned to make for the border, help the prince flee the country. My eldest son kept watch out on the street, the babe crying helplessly in the crib.

But the knights came all too quickly. Some guard had squealed, told them I was missing. My boy came running back with the news of their arrival, but the ring of hooves could already be heard clopping through the town square. The prince, clothed in my oldest cloak and tunic, was unrecognizable beneath the shadows of his dark hood. My son knew the way and lead them out down the backstreets while they fled as inconspicuously as possible away from there. I promised to catch up with them, staying behind to throw the soldiers off his scent – but I knew that in doing so, my fate was sealed.

Moments later, the door was knocked from its hinges. They tore the place to pieces and took me into custody, but I made sure they had nothing at all to aid them in finding the fugitives. In the palace prison, they did all they could to make me talk. But my own family was at stake, and I would never break. Even then, they kept me strong.

“Last chance, Casey. Have you anything to tell m’lord?” Comes the sinister hist to my ear. I glare up at the traitor from my knees, hands bound behind me, the light of my soul’s dying embers ablaze in my eyes.

“Long live the one true king of Éirigh!” I spit hoarsely, and the axe falls.

Outspoken (c) 2013