I’m Baaa-aaaack

Wow, it’s been entirely too long. Perhaps not for you, but definitely for me. Discouragement is the only excuse I can offer, and I can’t even call it a poor one. Awful. Terrible. Horrible. No good. And more than that.

I can’t even use illness as an excuse as I am still somewhat ill. Perhaps injured is a better term. I can say, fellow writers and coffee addicts, that swallowing your coffee, despite what you might think, works better than breathing it. It does not work faster that way. Caffeine does not enter your bloodstream more quickly. It is truly most unpleasant. The doctor said it would take three weeks to clear out of my lungs and for the irritation and cough to quit. Of course that was before I caught a cold in said doctor’s waiting room. While wearing a mask and using sanitizer. So please be careful. My addiction tried to drown me. Beware the throat tickle while trying to swallow. Beware the cough-sneeze-whatever-it-was while your mouth is full of warm liquid.

Yet here I am after an embarrassingly long absence. And you thought you were rid of me. Bwahahahahahahahahah.

Cough cough cough coughcoughcough ahem ahem.

Perhaps it is the antidepressant giving me moments of feeling more like my real self. Truly people, if you are having problems, ask your doctor for help. It is a treatable condition, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Nor is it the “nothing” that so many people think it is. If you are too paralyzed to live your life, please, please, don’t just tell yourself you’re weak, or that you’ll “snap out of it,” or “it’s just the blues.” I still have work to do, but taking that first step has already helped, and I’m back to the indie writer’s fight.

Okay, that’s enough lecturing for one blog. But I do mean it.

Not that I’m not still discouraged. To sell books, you need to promote. To promote, you either need to pay for advertising or (in too many cases for the free options) have a minimum number of reviews. To get reviews you need to promote. To afford paid advertising I need to sell books. To get enough reviews to qualify for free promotion, I need to promote. Can I scream yet?

I know, I know, stop whining, shut up, get out there. Not easy for a confirmed introvert. There’s a reason I’m a writer. My fingers are much more fluent than my tongue. Calling me socially awkward is . . . hmm, pretty accurate, actually. Selling myself is even worse than selling my books. My first assumption is always that a new acquaintance will not like me. I try telling myself “hey, you have friends, so obviously that’s not true,” but I’m not good at taking my own advice. So getting involved in guest blogging and such things is less than easy. Also, it feels like I’m being pushy and begging to try and ask. I’m also not exactly on the physically attractive side of the social fence, so the planned “official” author portrait I’m planning terrifies me. I like being behind the camera lens, not in front.

Yeah, I need a publicist. One that will work for a percentage of royalties. I know I’m not the worst writer, or even near the bottom of the list, but a salesperson I’m not. Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a professional advertiser! All right, that didn’t come out as amusing as I’d hoped.

Anywayseywhoo (oh yes, I am coming off the caffeine hard and fast), I will leave you with those thoughts. Complaints. Observations. Whatever you like to call them. Goodnight, dear fellow readers and writers, and please remember what I said. If you are struggling yourself or know someone who is.

Love to all!
And links to follow, including for a free short story!

Website http://llynkc.wix.com/kacie-llyn#
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EnchantmentsEndgame?
Book Links http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0KHUW0
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magics-guardian-kacie-llyn/1114134634?ean=2940015956313

Free Short Story http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kingston-kacie-llyn/1115373226?ean=2940044633025
https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/kacie-llyn/kingston/_/R-400000000000001085499
http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000333840/Llyn-Kacie-Kingston/1.html
http://store.kobobooks.com/pt-us/books/Kingston/uqly087luUyfUTznXLT17w
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/333840

Typing and Covers and Designing, Oh My! (Oh, Brother.)

So . . . I am preparing to seriously start typing.  Not writing, typing, completely different.  Though to be as honest and accurate as possible, I will do some editing as I type.  I always do, can’t help it.  I am addicted to editing.  But, as moving the words from paper to my computer is my least favorite, almost (not quite, but very close) disliked part of writing, it takes me the longest of any other task.  And no, don’t tell me to just type it in the first place.  Too much of my writing is done in places where a computer is not feasible, often not allowed, or liable to get wrecked if I try. 

But to make it faster, I’ve finally come up with the most brilliant of ideas.  Much of what I loathed about the typing was that I had nothing to hold the notebooks, so typing consisted of a lot of picking up, putting down, typing a few words, starting it again, craning my neck to try and see without picking it up . . . I spent more time wrestling with my notebook than actually moving words.  Then today, out of a blank brain occupied not with writing but with helping to make the annual family Chex Mix, the idea explodes.  The old music first I then my sister used in school.  So my sister dug it out of her closet and handed the battered old thing over.  The right size, the right height, it holds the pages.  Perfect!  And for once, my idea really was perfect, see below.

 

musicstand

If any of you are still old fashioned luddites dependent on pen and paper and find yourself with the same problem of nowhere convenient to put your notebook, it works. It really, really works, and a used music stand shouldn’t be too hard on the pocketbook.

So The Hunt shall be out soon. Of course soon is relative when you’re talking about finishing a book, months instead of minutes. Still, the sequel is coming along.

In anticipation, I’ve been playing with cover designs. Here’s the updated cover for Enchantment’s Endgame: Book Two The Hunt. One wishes that one could actually make writing a semi-lucrative career so one could obtain a program with a few more functions, but Printmaster Platinum has done all right for me so far.

The Hunt ebook-001

And I’ve even started updating the cover for the third, Moon’s Children. I’m liking it so far.

moonschildrenebook-001

I have been encouraged by several people to let others do my cover design, but for anywhere between $100 and $1000 dollars, I think I will continue on my own. I don’t think they’re terrible. I was even pretty pleased with my first attempt, the cover for Magic’s Guardian. The final result isn’t too far off others I’ve seen, at least I don’t think so. Of course I’m a writer not an artist, so I could be totally wrong and they may want to make you want to tear your eyes out. Please tell me if that’s the case.

Does anyone else do their own cover design? Or is it just poor deluded little unprofessional me?

Ta for now, all you authors and agents and publishers and readers. I wish you all the best, all the luck, and all the profits you deserve. Just remember not to lose all the fun.

As usual, links to other stuff follows.

Magic’s Guardian on Kindle and in print http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0KHUW0
Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magics-guardian-kacie-llyn/1114134634?ean=2940015956313

Kingston (free short story)
Nook
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kingston-kacie-llyn/1115373226?ean=2940044633025
Sony Reader Store
https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/kacie-llyn/kingston/_/R-400000000000001085499
Diesel ebook store
http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000333840/Llyn-Kacie-Kingston/1.html
Kobo
http://store.kobobooks.com/pt-us/books/Kingston/uqly087luUyfUTznXLT17w
Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/333840

Author Website http://llynkc.wix.com/kacie-llyn#

Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/EnchantmentsEndgame?

To Print or . . . I Won’t Finish That

Good evening, fellow bloggers, writers, publishers, ect. I am starting to feel like a real writer. I read that to be real, you have to be willing to do all nighters, and I did an all nighter last night. Well, almost, the tank finally failed at about 5 am. But it was close. And I feel awful. Somehow I don’t think it helped the creativity flow. So, don’t think I’ll do it again, unless I start another big project that I think will take an hour and it ends up taking more than ten.

Publishing in print is a lot of work. But at least it only costs the print price of the books, plus shipping. Unless it’s sold through Amazon, then I actually get a royalty. Yay me!

It would be nice to sell a few. Somehow the two I’ve sold so far just doesn’t seem what I would call any kind of personal victory.

But I digress. Well, I really don’t since I haven’t actually gotten to the subject yet. No sleep brain will do that to you.

So yeah, Magic’s Guardian may be available in print form at some point in the future. I hope so, since as a book-in-my-hands girl, I’ll feel much more legitimate with pages and a cover. A real cover!

In looking for a scene to tap into today, I was looking for something a little more exciting, yet something that won’t give the whole story away. So here is Terra’s return through the Faerie Circle. It gives a preview of what they’ll be facing, has a little more of the Puck-Titania dislike, and a hint at the trouble heading Maclyn’s way. It’s not really long, but it has a bit more action than the last excerpts. And this time I’m going to be smart enough to format it instead of blindly pasting. Yes, I know there should either be a break or an indent, but I’m not ambitious enough to change every single line. So you’ll just have to deal with both. Nya, nya, nya. If you want it correct, buy the book. I think. It was correct last time I downloaded anyway. I do not trust computers, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it had logged in without me and changed everything. Computers do that, you know. Kind of like that way typos breed.

Of course they way the blog changed what was pasted from the manuscript, it might none of it be an issue. If not, sorry. Ignore above.

All right, now I really do digress. Story below.

“Take the next turn, we’re almost there,” Puck instructed.

She followed his direction, taking them onto a less-travelled road mercifully free of traffic.

“This is going to . . .” Puck was cut off by a heavy impact from behind. They both grunted and Terra clutched the wheel, pulling the truck out of a wild fishtail.

“I didn’t see anything,” she said through white lips, slowing the truck. “Did a deer . . .”

Something large and black loomed in the windshield, crawling up the side of the truck onto the hood. It reached out a—paw? hand?—and shattered the thick glass with a single tap of its three-inch claws.

Terra screamed and slammed on the brakes, fighting to stay up on four wheels. The thing leapt off her truck, landing lightly in the road in front of them. Terra’s pickup struck the huge creature, or the creature hit the truck, Terra wasn’t quite sure which, and the front wheels left the pavement.

It felt like being on a wild roller coaster. Terra’s gut lurched. Puck shouted something but she couldn’t hear over the rushing wind and the cries of her frightened dog. Then the truck hit the road on its side, sliding for what seemed half a moment less than forever, sparks raining as metal howled out its misery. Fiery pain lanced Terra’s abdomen when the entire dashboard broke away and the steering wheel slammed into her stomach, knocking her breath out in a single gagging grunt.

The pickup finally came to rest in the ditch, rocking gently and letting out mechanical moans of pain. Terra’s world was grey for a few seconds while her diaphragm unfroze. When she could draw a large enough breath she coughed, smelling and tasting smoke, oil, and the cooking grease she still used in place of gasoline. “Puck? Flyght?” she called in a hoarse voice.

A bark and a groan were her answers. Reaching down, she managed to unbuckle her seatbelt with hands that shook so hard she looked palsied. Twisting an arm under what was left of her seat, she found her tire iron, gripping it with white knuckles. She turned to her passenger, who had a trickle of blood snaking down his face and a blackening bruise on one cheek. “Puck? Can you get out?”
“I think so,” was his groaning reply.

Grimacing, Terra hauled herself out through the windshield. Broken safety glass scratched her legs, but that pain was nothing compared to her stomach. It hurt to move, even to breathe, and she could barely stand; ignoring it as best she could, she gained her feet and took a defensive stance, the tire iron raised. “What was that?” she asked Puck, who was pushing an unscathed Flyght out through the window and pulling himself free in her wake.

Flyght growled low in her chest, her fur on end. Terra turned to follow her enraged eyes, the tire iron held over her head.

The creature was sniffing at them cautiously, crouched low in the dry grass. It was pure black, a black that was more a total absence of light than a color. There were no highlights in its fur or glints where its eyes would be, only a patch of shadow like a hole through the bright sunshine. Terra’s eyes watered, wanting to skip over it, but she forced them to focus, though it gave her a headache.

Something like a cross between a man and a bear, the beast exhibited the worse aspects of each. “A gargoyle,” Puck hissed. “Damn. What is it doing here?”

The gargoyle bared teeth that were as black as the rest of it and moved towards them slowly. It took Terra a moment to recognize that it was stalking them like a lion after choice prey. Terror charged through her, making her tremble. Then, suddenly, fury took over, fury at the situation, at the creature, at Faerie-kind in general, and her own teeth were bared. Hot rage well over the edge of sanity, an emotion so intense it was almost a living thing itself, began to build the way it had so long ago. Her pain was nothing more than a distant distraction. She noticed Puck and his drawn sword only distantly as familiar red veiled her eyes. “You bastard,” she snarled at the creature, brandishing the tire iron like a medieval war club. “I just finished paying for that truck!”

The pickup whooshed into flames. Terra shrieked a wordless challenge, goading the creature to charge. Terra lurched in front of Puck and swung the iron as she had swung the sword those years before, using the weight of her body to add power. Heavy talons scored the flesh of her upper arm, leaving deep gouges, and the sharp end of the iron smashed into the beast’s eye.

The monster screeched and clawed at its own face, black blood that smelled of infection spraying Terra and Puck. Flyght jumped at the gargoyle, her claws finding purchase on the thing’s bowed back, her teeth tearing into its neck. Terra swung the iron again, this time an overhead swing that brought the curved end down on the creature’s head, splintering the thick skull and driving into its brain. Flinging its head back, the gargoyle howled, a high, splintered sound like claws on crystal. Terra swung again, tearing into the front of its throat.

Convulsing, the gargoyle fell to its knees. Flyght leapt from her perch, shaking her head and pawing at her muzzle. Watching the thing twitch and die, Terra only felt satisfaction. Blood, both red and black, dripped off various parts of her body in thick rivulets. The black fluid steamed wherever it touched her bare flesh, leaving red, tender blotches like sunburn. Puck stared at her, his unused sword hanging loose at his side. “Remind me never to get you angry,” he whispered.

Terra faced him, all their shared laughter hiding behind an icy visage. “Cold Iron,” she whispered back, her voice hoarse with pain and anger. “I wondered why I was so fascinated by mythology, especially anything Faerie. I guess now I know. I also know that the Faerie Circle is a trap, the Fey can be incredibly nasty, and your greatest enemy is Cold Iron.”

“You’ve been studying. The wrong things, perhaps,” the elf murmured thoughtfully.

“Don’t threaten me.”

Puck took a startled step back. “I didn’t mean it that way. Terra, you . . .”

The girl cut him off with a wave of her hand. “How far is the Circle?”

Puck shrugged. “Not far, especially since we don’t have to stay on the roads.”

“Let’s go.”

“But your car . . . I’m good, one of the best, but I can’t hold Glamour from that far away. The authorities . . .”

Terra stared him down and he trailed off. “Let’s go,” she said.

Flyght whined, still wiping ineffectually at her muzzle, but followed her mistress, her leash dragging behind her. Puck frowned at the girl, but Terra was in too much pain to notice. She just wanted to get somewhere she could sit down. Or better, lie down.

Fortunately it was only a few minutes to the Circle. Even for such a short walk, Terra had to stop twice and close her eyes against dizziness, shaking off Puck’s hands before continuing on. Just as the familiar shifting lights came into view, a loud explosion sounded from near the highway. Puck flinched, but Terra just kept walking, her face turning whiter with every step, cold sweat beading on her brow and upper lip.

Inside Faerie Underhill, the appearance of Puck accompanied by a human girl and a mortal dog, all liberally splattered with gore, caused more than a stir. Even Oberon blinked silently for a long moment, his regal jaw hanging loose.

“Terraceleste!’ Titania cried, too shocked to show either pleasure or unhappiness.

Terra’s eyes automatically sought a dark-haired figure, terrified to see but ravenous for a single look.

Maclyn sat with a young red-haired elf. He looked up at his mother’s cry and his mouth fell open, a mirror image of his father’s expression. The goblet he had been holding to the pretty faerie’s lips crashed to the ground and shattered in a spray of silvery clay shards and deep crimson droplets. The younger faerie covered her mouth with one hand, clutching Maclyn’s arm with the other.

Did you really think he’d wait for the impossible? Wait for you? Terra tried to ask herself, but logic didn’t help. Emotions that should have been seven years old were too new and too confusing after stewing and bubbling in her subconscious. Her face stretched in a grimace that wasn’t all physical pain.

Maclyn stood as if jerked by marionette strings. “Terra . . . “

At the sound of his voice whispering her name, she flushed then went pale, then turned an ugly combination of the two. She stared at her former lover sitting with the shapely female, still gaping and clutching his hand, and felt her heart try to break.

She was too weak to stand the pain that flared across her chest. Everything around her shimmered and changed color. She thought for a moment that she was leaving the Circle, being forced out again. She hoped so. She didn’t want to remember any more. Then she wasn’t thinking anything at all.

*

Maclyn leapt the instant Terra’s eyes began to roll; she crumpled into his arms utterly limp and cool to the touch. Her body convulsed once in a retch and blood bubbled up to coat her lips. Puck landed on his knees next to them and reached out to touch the girl’s grayish-yellow face, grimacing at her blue lips. He leaned down, putting an ear to her mouth, looking up at Maclyn in a panic.

Maclyn could feel her breathing raggedly, but each breath was shorter and there was a longer pause between each one. “Where is Thistledown?” he rasped at his mother, his voice shaking as hard as the rest of him.

Thistledown appeared before Titania had time to answer, motioning for Maclyn to lay the unconscious girl out on the ground. “It’s close,” she murmured. Laying her hands on Terra’s chest, she closed her eyes. A white-blue aura appeared around her, rising from her in misty swirls and slowly seeping over Terra. “She’s bleeding inside, from more than one place. She’s ready to tip over the edge . . .”

The onlookers were silent as Thistledown concentrated. Puck and Maclyn stared into each other’s eyes, the same thought echoing between them; they had found their old friend only to get her killed. Maclyn’s lungs constricted until he couldn’t breathe.

The not-exactly-glow around Thistledown faded and her eyes blinked open. “She will live,” she said wearily. “If she had come here a minute later . . . but she is here. Puck, why did you let her walk when she was . . .”

“I didn’t know,” Puck snapped. “How could I? We were attacked by a gargoyle. It sent the car flying, and Terra killed it after she climbed out of the mess. How was I supposed to know how bad she was hurt? She killed the thing! A gargoyle! By herself!” Each sentence was more hysterical than the last until he stopped, sucking in deep draughts of air.

Maclyn scooped Terra gently into his arms. “I can believe it.”

Oberon’s mouth was tight. He gave Puck one look that insinuated a coming interrogation, but he focused on a different subject. “A gargoyle. So we were right.”

“Apparently,” said Puck. “But we still don’t know why. I apologize for not staying longer, but I didn’t know what to do. She . . . she saw me and remembered.”

“Impossible,” Titania gasped. “No mortal can resist the Circle’s magic without help. You must have done it.”

Puck shrugged, calm patience aging him considerably. “Believe what you will, but she saw through my Glamour. Has there ever been another human do that?”

“You did right,” Oberon interceded, signaling for Titania’s silence.

Maclyn ignored the conversation as he carried Terraceleste to his bed, the girl he had been sitting with following worriedly. “Thank goodness she’s going to be all right,” she said.

“Yes.” Tucking her firmly into the pile of pillows and blankets, Maclyn made sure Terra was well covered. “Stay with her,” he instructed. “Don’t let her get too excited if she wakes up. I’ll be back soon, but I’m sure Father will want to talk with me.”

And of course Maclyn is right. So there we go, a little more dirt and blood. There’s also something a bit darker I have offered for free, a story abou8t a pet of a different color. Links are below. Sorry, this one won’t be in print. Not even sure the outfit I’m using could do something so short.

Kingston Nook
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kingston-kacie-llyn/1115373226?ean=2940044633025
Kingston Sony Reader Store
https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/kacie-llyn/kingston/_/R-400000000000001085499
Kingston Diesel ebook store
http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000333840/Llyn-Kacie-Kingston/1.html

Kingston Kobo
http://store.kobobooks.com/pt-us/books/Kingston/uqly087luUyfUTznXLT17w
Kingston Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/333840

It will also, somewhere, somehow, but on Amazon eventually. But Smashwords does have a Kindle download file so it’s available.

So, good night, good writing, good publishing, and stay thirsty, my friends.

Oh, wait, that’s not me.

I am going to bed.

Signing off,

Kacie

Theories, Writing, and an Adult Scene

It’s a little early this week, but I’m putting up my blog now before I lose the energy. After not having caffeine for 18 hours for a stress test (my heart is normal, no such worries about the rest of me), I made up for it and now I am too wired to sleep. Not that I’d me sleeping yet anyway on a Friday night. Nope, I’m usually staring at my computer screen, editing or writing, tweeting, Facebooking, usually watching a movie or catching up on a TV series . . . hmmm, maybe there’s a reason it takes me forever to get my books typed up.

Yeah, I hate typing. Love the writing, love the editing, but when it’s just typing . . . ngk. Perhaps someday I shall stop being such a luddite and use something besides a notebook. I don’t know. I seem to think better with a pen in my hand.

Anyway, back on subject. Yeah, that one, the one I haven’t mentioned yet. Still sticking with my intention of posting excerpts of my work. I still stand by the theory that my fictional lives are far more interesting than my real one. And no, Fate, that wasn’t a complaint. I am also trying a slightly different method of copy and pasting, so maybe the formatting will make it into the blog. Fingers crossed. And toes, legs, arms, eyes . . .

Yeah, yeah. I know. I don’t do humor.

This scene is a little later in the story. Terra has just met Flyght, a Faeriesteed. Here they find out that she’s not exactly a typical mortal, though no one guesses who she really is, least of all her.

Warning: This part of the story includes an adult scene that some might find graphic, so if you are easily offended, stop reading here, please. Thank you.

Flyght nudged her shoulder. Terra looked into the huge laughing eyes; the steed tossed her head, giving a single high-pitched whinny. With a whoop, Terra hauled herself onto the wide back and they took off at a wild gallop.

Looking back over her shoulder, Terra laughed. Puck and Maclyn both sprinted for their steeds, yelling at them to catch the disappearing pair. The brown faerie paused only to snatch Rosebud from the king. Thistledown had no choice but to follow, but it was with an indulgent smile.

Heartbeat pounding in her ears, Terra leaned over her mount’s neck. Hearing more hooves rumbling close behind them, she leaned closer, her arms and legs moving with the steed’s rhythm. Flyght flattened her ears, increasing her speed. She did not speak, but Terra could feel a twinkling in her head that felt like delighted, girlish giggles that effervesced and tickled, bringing an echo of it from between Terra’s lips.

Flyght kept just ahead of her nearest pursuer until their progress was finally halted by a lake, but the faeriesteed didn’t stop until she was plunging chest-deep in cool, fresh water so clear that Terra could see every grain of silt that the steed’s charge kicked up. Flyght reared, splashing with her front hooves, striking at the glittering light that reflected from the small waves that lapped leisurely towards shore.

Trumpeting, Maclyn’s black stallion followed her in and crashed into the mare, flinging her off her feet and sending her underwater with Terra still clinging to her back. Sputtering to the surface, Terra glared up at Maclyn, lunged, and grabbed his leg, pulling him in before he could react. Puck, Thistledown, and Rosebud arrived moments later, just in time to be doused in a water fight between a faerie, a human, and two steeds. They joined with relish.

“You could have woken me up when you left this morning, you know,” Terra grunted, shoving Maclyn and kicking his legs out from under him.

He sat down hard, the water coming up to his neck. “I couldn’t do that,” he protested, surging at her. “You looked so sweet and peaceful.” He set his shoulder into her middle and lifted her in a fireman’s carry. “How appearances do deceive!” Laughing at her outraged squawk, he tossed her into deeper water.

Puck laughed at that. Rosebud performed a nimble side-kick to the back of one knee, collapsing his leg and turning the laugh to a gurgle.

Spitting, Terra rose to the surface and attacked, dunking him thoroughly. Catching her wrists, Maclyn planted a firm kiss on her mouth, then his hand on top of her head, pushing her under.

Hours passed before they realized it. The sun was starting to dip on the evening side of the sky when, soaked and mud-covered, they all climbed out of the water and all but collapsed. Lounging on the shore, they let sunlight warm the chill out of their skin. “How big is the Faerie Circle?” Terra asked lazily. “I know there aren’t any lakes near where I was camping.”

“It’s as big as it needs to be,” Thistledown answered, her voice dozy. “And this isn’t really the Circle, but the lands past it. Some called it Underhill, others called it the Faerie Mound. The Circle is the place where our world meets yours. If you had but come out from behind a different tree, you never would have passed through and found us.”

“There wasn’t much chance of missing you noisy lot,” Terra chuckled. “Lights, music . . . I have to admit I was a little annoyed when you woke me up.”

“You saw the Circle? You heard us from your side?” Puck exclaimed, sitting up to stare.

“Of course,” Terra said, propping herself up to aim a perplexed frown in his direction. “It wasn’t exactly subtle.”

Puck looked confused, gazing at her with a peculiar twist to his features. “But . . . you’re mortal . . .”

Maclyn cut his friend off with the sharp wave of a hand. “What does it matter? She’s here.” He smiled, the warm look in his eyes for Terra alone.

Terra smiled back, warmed by the real fondness on his face even more than by the sun. It was muted by a vague chill when she noticed Thistledown frowning in their direction, her expression puzzled, maybe even a little sad. She took a breath to ask what it meant, but the sadness kept her silent.

Puck cleared his throat, brushing wet hair out of his face. Strangely, his expression matched Thistledown’s almost exactly. “You know, we haven’t sparred in a while,” he remarked a little hastily. “It’s a good time.” He smirked. “It would give me a chance to show off.”

Terra’s pulse stuttered at Puck’s change of topic. Maclyn only snorted. “You just want a rematch.”

“I can’t let a boy two hundred years younger win, can I?” Puck said with a shrug and an utterly wicked grin.

“Just because I actually use my sword outside of your games once in a while . . .”

“Wait a minute,” Terra interrupted, her eyes wide with disbelief. “Swords? Why swords? You all seem so . . . I don’t know, weapons just don’t seem to go with this place.”

“We have enemies,” Thistledown said, momentarily grim-faced. “We cannot afford to become complacent and vulnerable.”

“Oh.” A violent note in the pretty woman’s voice kept Terra from asking her to elaborate, but she wondered who could be the enemy of these mischievous but happy people. Judging from the usually gentle Healer’s reaction, Terra would be happier and probably healthier if she never found out.

The others scrambled up onto their steeds. Terra followed, exchanging glances with Flyght as she mounted. The mare’s gaze was cool and amused as though she was laughing at everyone behind her deep spring eyes. It was not a comforting expression.

Their trek through the hot, drying sun back to the gathering of shelters was longer than Terra remembered, even accounting for their slow pace. Once they found their way back to the ring of shelters, she stayed on Flyght’s surprisingly comfortable back as she waited for her new friends to gather what they needed. The three adult faeries found their swords, each with a beautifully wrought, unique design, double-edged yet slender pieces with narrow furrows running from hilt to tip on each side. Maclyn even grabbed a sword for Rosebud, a tiny, knife-sized blade with a very real edge. Terra waited for Thistledown to punch him, or at least put up a protest, but she only examined it with appreciative approval as the tiny girl waved it over her head.

The elves wrapped sturdy leather belts around their waists and sheathed their swords in attached scabbards that were embossed with realistic images of the surrounding forest. Their steeds stamped in anticipation as they mounted, taking off before they were securely aboard. Her own curious excitement growing, Terra hung on while Flyght followed, content this time to keep in the center of the pack.

They found an open spot in the trees where Maclyn and Puck squared off while Thistledown knelt by her daughter, showing the girl how to hold a sword in her doll-sized fist. Terra settled under the largest tree. The steeds grazed around her, cropping mossy grass and paying little attention to her, wagering with each other in quick thoughts as sharp as the flashing blades.

Terra was enthralled, especially by the way muscles in Maclyn’s shoulders and arms flexed when he hefted his sword. She watched, fascinated, as he and Puck circled each other, blades clashing, each swing and parry becoming more concentrated, more in earnest. She winced when Puck slashed Maclyn across the thigh, slicing his pant leg with razor precision and leaving a thin trail of blood that widened, soaking into the leather. There was an odd tinge to the fluid; she wondered hazily if it had anything to do with the term “blue blood.”

All laughter had drained from Puck’s face and Maclyn looked truly vicious. It was enough to make Terra glance towards Thistledown, but the woman only shook her head with a faintly pained look on her face.

Despite the Healer’s lack of concern, Terra’s interest was tainted by a little fear when Puck finally caught Maclyn with his sword in an awkward, indefensible position. The point of the shorter man’s weapon stayed pressed against Maclyn’s throat for so long that Terra was afraid the blade would actually pierce flesh. Then Puck lowered his sword and was suddenly Puck again. “Gotcha,” he said cheekily.

“This time,” answered a disgruntled Maclyn, pushing Puck’s sword away with the tip of a slender finger.

“Always.” Puck motioned to a wide-eyed Terra. “You look whiter than your own hair. You didn’t think we meant it, did you?”

“You made it look good,” Terra admitted. Her achingly tense shoulders loosened and she aimed slit eyes at Maclyn. “Very good.”

Pink actually spread across the prince’s high cheekbones and his expression was both pleased and boyishly sheepish.

Puck laughed. “Come on, give it a try.”

“But . . .”

“Come on,” he coaxed. “I know you’re not afraid.”

The teasing challenge would not let her decline. Swallowing her misgivings, Terra trotted across the glade to join the men, stopping for a moment to watch Thistledown cross her blade with Rosebud’s to explain something about grip in quiet, motherly tones. Listening with a hungry gleam in her bright eyes, Rosebud shifted her hand, paused, and corrected herself again before Thistledown could say anything, nodding as she flexed her fingers around her blade’s haft, a look of thoughtful concentration on her face.

Puck handed Terra his sword, stepping behind her with a smirk she didn’t entirely like. He positioned her grip on the hilt and guided her hand as she swung it experimentally. Rosebud, halting her own lesson, giggled at Terra’s clumsy attempts, which were more hampered than helped by Puck’s hand planted over hers. Maclyn rolled his eyes in disgust. “The only thing you’re teaching her is how to let herself be gutted,” he snorted.

Puck’s face twisted sourly. He backed away, motioning for Maclyn to continue in his place, his arm swinging wide in sarcastic invitation. Maclyn pushed the elf out of his way and took a stance opposite Terra, lifting his sword and giving it a little encouraging wave. Copying his pose, she held Puck’s sword at a forty-five degree angle to her body, waiting for confirmation. Maclyn studied her critically, then nodded acceptance of her certainly amateurish attempt. “Like this,” he said, swinging his sword so it tapped hers smartly.

Stepping back, Terra swung the sword once, then again, harder, paying attention to the way it balanced almost by itself. When her mock swipes looked easy and mostly under control, he motioned for her to take position.

Terra obediently shifted into the ready stance he had taught her. She was careful at first, brandishing the sword with slow, gentle thrusts, her blade hitting his with soft tics when Maclyn blocked her nervous blows. “Ready?” he asked after a minute or two of the simple action.
“Yeah, I guess,” Terra replied, tightening her grip.

When Maclyn finally swung at her with a half-speed blow, it created a shockwave that traveled up her arm, twisting the sword out of her hand. Every head in the glade turned to watch it fly several feet and not even have the dignity to land gracefully point-down in the ground, instead tumbling clumsily flat in the grass. Terra flushed.

“Grip,” Maclyn commanded.

Retrieving the weapon with a frown, Terra took position again. Rosebud’s lesson flashed in her mind, and she adjusted her hold to match the way the little girl’s tiny fist had twined around her dagger-sized blade. Almost immediately something felt right; Puck’s sword fit her hand perfectly and was light enough for her to handle with one arm, the reach and balance ideal for someone of her height. Swinging back at Maclyn, the blade caught his with a satisfying clang. Maclyn nodded, pleased, and showed her a number of different moves, the block and parry as well as the attack.

Terra practiced each one for a time, becoming more confident with every swing. When Maclyn made a surprise swipe, she blocked it neatly. Maclyn backed off. “Not bad,” he encouraged. “Here, try to block the higher strokes, too.”

Terra blocked each swing with fair accuracy. “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” accused Thistledown. “You’ve taken fencing at least.”

“Never,” Terra said while trying a series of swings and jabs.

Maclyn attacked with sudden swift ferocity and Terra jumped back, blocking a powerful overhand swing, bringing her blade up at an angle to his to knock the blow away. Maclyn’s next swipe nearly caught her across the face and he winced, his own face a grimace of chagrin. “Sorry.”

Growling, Terra lunged with a fresh jab. Her sword slipped off Maclyn’s as he blocked, and the very tip of his blade bit into her wrist. It was only a scratch, but Maclyn looked abashed, stuttering an apology. The girl didn’t even pause; her teeth were bared and her return swing ferocious. Maclyn was taken aback for a moment, but returned the swipe with equal determination.

Terra, however, was beyond determination. She could feel everything, the breeze, the sun, even the surrounding stares. She could smell her own blood, a sweetish-salty, copper odor that coated her mouth and nose, and the headier, spicier sent of Maclyn’s.

A strange feeling fell over her, a sensation of being bound, but she didn’t know what was holding her or how to release it. Rage built, rage at her inability to escape whatever it was that held her, and she needed it, needed it so bad she would die of it. She glanced down at the tiny wound on her wrist and the blood filled her eyes until she saw through a film of red. The world around her faded to the one bright spot that was the focus of her battle, a figure she no longer recognized as anything more than an enemy. Her swings became wilder and she whirled with every strike, using the whole weight of her body to add force to her attacks. That feeling built in her, a feeling of . . . power, of something wanting to escape, a trapped feeling that frustrated her beyond any influence of sanity, that took over everything and left room for nothing else, nothing . . . human.

*
It took Maclyn a moment to see that something was wrong. His eyes widened at the sight of true madness in the girl’s expression and he backed away from her. “Terra!” he called, lowering his sword in an attempt to submit, but she didn’t seem to recognize him, or even really see him.

Terra leaped toward him and knocked the blade out of his hand with a wild slash that left a deep gash in his forearm, then sent him to the ground with a lunge and lifted Puck’s sword over her head, point-down and aimed straight for his heart.

“Terraceleste!” Maclyn cried the girl’s name again with a cracked voice, closing his eyes.

The three watching faeries screamed, Puck stumbling towards the battling pair; Flyght acted more quickly. She jumped for the combatants, rearing and kicking Terra’s blade away just before it cut into Maclyn’s unprotected chest. Terra was thrown off her feet, most of her wind knocked out by a hoof to her gut. She hit the ground with a hard thud and Maclyn winced for her even through the burning of his own arm.

Rosebud squirmed out of her mother’s restraining hold and was the first to reach the pair of downed opponents. Miniature arms enfolded Terra’s neck as Thistledown shrieked, trying to tear her away. The tiny creature clung like a vine, wailing. “No! No! No!”

Thistledown relaxed when Terra made no move but to pat Rosebud’s back. Her face was blank and slack, but it was shock, not the terrifying madness. Disentangling her daughter, the Healer whispered assurances in one pink pointed ear while she watched sharp-eyed for signs of injury or a resurgence of violence. Terra sat gasping for breath, reason slowly returning to her green-tinged face. Her skin turned chalk-white, ghastly under the nauseated flush on her cheeks, as she looked at Maclyn who was now sitting next to her, a dark look in his silvery eyes. Blood ran heavily down his arm to drip off his fingers. “Berserk,” he said to Puck.

Puck nodded solemnly. “Rarer in humans, but it happens. She must have some warrior blood, Viking perhaps. Are you all right?” he asked both of them.

“I’ll heal,” Maclyn grunted. His arm twinged and he shivered, staring at the ripped sleeve of his shirt, and the blood soaking into it. “I was almost anything but all right. She surprised me at first, then I didn’t want to hurt her, then . . . Flyght, I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t acted.” He faced Terra, laying his good hand on her shoulder. “Terra? Are you all right?”

Terra’s white-ringed eyes stared forward. “I would have killed you,” she whispered, tears rising to gather at the corner of each moss-green eye. “I didn’t even know who you were.”

Though it was a grim expression, Maclyn smiled. “I noticed. I’m sorry, it was my fault. If I had any idea . . . But that wasn’t what I meant.” His hand brushed through her hair, the back of his fingers grazing across her cheekbone in an affectionate, tender gesture that only made her flinch. “I want to know if Flyght hurt you.”

Terra shook her head, her breath already coming easier. “Flyght didn’t hurt me. She saved me. But I don’t know what happened . . . it was awful! I don’t ever want to feel like that again.” Her eyes lifted, grazing past his shoulder to Thistledown. “What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy?”

Thistledown knelt beside her. “No, dear. You’re not crazy. There’s not really anything wrong with you, just . . . inappropriate for the times. A Berserk has an extreme reaction to battle. Has nothing like this happened to you before?”

Terra blinked, still slow to react. “Once,” she finally answered. “There was a boy in school, an older boy. He called me names, snow freak and polar bear and more. One day he pushed my best friend Chad and tried to steal his lunch. I was too small to really hurt him, but . . . I scared him. He left us alone. And I got detention for a week.”

“I suggest you stay out of any kind of combat,” Thistledown said, nodding. “Even pretend. But you didn’t do any permanent damage.” She winked at Maclyn. “He doesn’t damage very easily, anyway.” Tapping the side of his head with one knuckle, she smirked. “Rock, you know.”

Maclyn laughed, pushing her hand away, then frowned in worry when Terra didn’t even smile.

Puck helped the girl to her feet. “I suggest we clean up so we don’t kill Maclyn’s parents when we return. Or be killed by them. This shirt was a gift from Oberon.”

“Yes, I think that’s a good idea. It’s been a long day,” Thistledown agreed. “Here Maclyn, let me see your arm. I can ease your pain and slow the bleeding, even if I can’t heal it entirely.” Glancing at Terra, she sighed. “Unfortunately, I can’t completely heal injuries caused by iron. Something in the metal stifles our magic,” she explained. Still, it was only the work of a moment to help Maclyn’s wounds along their way. Thistledown reached for Terra’s scratched wrist next, but the girl shook her head, leaning away and hugging herself.

*

Quietly, much more solemn than on their first visit, they returned to the lake, where even Rosebud came out a shade or two lighter after a quick but thorough scrub. Terra was silent the entire time, refusing to talk to or even look at any of the others. She didn’t know what to think of herself. What they were thinking she didn’t want to know.

After being unable to draw a response, Flyght nudged Thistledown’s shoulder.
The woman nodded and hefted Rosebud onto her violet stallion’s wide back. She collected Puck and his mount; they retreated quietly, leaving Terra and Maclyn alone with Flyght and Tempest.

Terra desperately wanted to call them all back, but remained silent, suffering the vague idea that she deserved whatever he did or said.

Maclyn splashed through the ankle-deep water, boots in hand. She kept her eyes down, dabbling in the warm water while he waited for her attention. When she didn’t give it to him, he sighed, bending to scoop her into his arms. She squeaked, helpless as he hefted her as though she were no more than an extra-large pillow. He lifted her onto Flyght’s back and climbed up behind her, one strong arm around her middle, holding her tight.

Without asking for direction, Flyght started to walk, following the shoreline, Tempest following at a short distance. Terra stayed lax, watching the mare’s ears swivel and flick, tilted back towards her riders.

Their slow pace along the water reflected Terra’s mood, but the motion began to ease the stiffness from her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” she finally said.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Maclyn answered. “If anything, it was mine, and maybe Puck’s. Everything has been a bit much.” He reached up to ruffle her hair then stroke it back into place. “I’ve never met a human who could even see us as we are, and it’s been a long time for those who have. And you don’t just see us, it’s almost like you’re one of us. We all forget this is new to you. And you’ve had to deal with much stranger things than most.”

His light, ironic tone did nothing to alleviate Terra’s mood. “I could have hurt you,” she murmured, keeping her voice low and controlled.

“But you didn’t.” Glancing at his gashed arm, Maclyn amended his statement. “At least not much.” He nuzzled the back of Terra’s neck. “Certainly no more than Puck did. Nothing’s different. I just won’t let you hold a sword ever again. Or a club, or spears, or knives, and I think I’ll be careful when it comes to spoons, too.”

Terra’s mouth trembled into a small, wavering smile. It brightened quickly at the warm glow his casual words caused and the tingle of pleasure his touch left wherever it strayed. But when Maclyn’s hand drifted upward from her waist, she gasped and stiffened. “There are witnesses!” she cried.

Maclyn laughed. Flyght and Tempest joined him, their whinnying chuckles ringing out over the lake. “In some ways,” Maclyn said, slowly untying Terra’s top, “the faeriesteeds are much like any mortal animal. This is totally natural to them, and they don’t understand our obsession with privacy, human or faerie.”

To prove Maclyn’s point, Flyght looked over her shoulder at Tempest, nickering quietly. Maclyn slid himself and Terra off the mare’s back. The steed’s posture shifted slowly, muscle by muscle, into something undeniably provocative, her haunches bunched and her tail flagged. Tempest arched his neck, prancing over and using his outthrust chest to push gently at the mare. Flyght laughed, but her eyes took in only the beautiful black form. /Males,/ she said, /are the same in any species. We shall leave you to your comfort./ She trotted slowly away, her tail raised and swinging loosely behind her. The stallion followed as if hypnotized, his ears stretched so far forward it looked painful.

Maclyn turned his attention to Terra, his mouth dropping hard over hers. Guilt melted away under the gentle ministrations, passion taking its place until she was afraid the lake would boil from the heat radiating between them. They slipped under the gentle waves, but Terra’s fear was of drowning in sensation, not liquid.

Blood from their still-leaking wounds mixed in the water, the crimson and purplish drops swirling together unheeded, blending more intimately than their bodies as it was swept away into the sunlight that played and sparkled on the deeply blue water. Maclyn laid Terra on the bank, half in and half out of the waves. He unfastened her trousers with one hand, stripping off the wet leather with a growl. Terra helped him with his ties, her fingers craving the feel of his flesh as much as deeper things. She nearly wept when he thrust into her, arching her back so high that he was lifted off the ground. She made desperate sounds, frustrated that she couldn’t take more of him, all of him, every cell and fiber of his body to mingle with hers. She clutched him angrily, her nails digging painfully into his back, growling and nipping in her aggravation.

Smirking, Maclyn rolled them over, grasping her hips to keep her sheathed over him. Terra stilled in surprise and a little uncertainty until the new position sent sparks racing up and down her nerves along different paths. Maclyn groaned and took her hips in both hands, encouraging her; gasping, she spread her legs wider and shifted in his grip, crying out when he was pushed even deeper, so deep it felt like it was bruising her inside. Her cries came louder and faster when he rolled her hips for her, showing her how to move until she followed his rhythm on her own.

And it doesn’t end there, but it’s a place to stop. I was hesitant about publishing Magic’s Guardian as my first “official” book, as it was the first novel I actually wrote. It’s gone through numerous edits and rewrites and tearing-apart-and-putting-back-together-ings, so it is definitely improved over the first draft. So much was changed it’s probably its own second cousin by now, though the basic plot stayed the same. Still, it’s a scary step, calling it finished and throwing your work out there to the sharks, hoping they bite, but not too hard.

So I hope somebody enjoys the words I threw together and mixed up, brought to a boil, froze, thawed, kneaded, beat, and mixed up again. And I hope all of you writers out there luck in getting your own words into the world.

Good night, sweet writers, and the best of wishes.

Something New and Different

Hi there, adventurers into the Blogsphere. I haven’t done anything on the blog in a while. I couldn’t think of a topic that I either hadn’t already done or didn’t sound like something that would put the entire world, including me, to sleep.

I think a big part of the issue is that I’m not a fan of reality. It’s just somewhere I don’t like to be. I’m so much more comfortable in the worlds inside my head. People like me there, or at least who I am in those worlds, be it a pirate, an alien, a werewolf, vampire, faerie, or something I haven’t even gotten to writing about yet.

So . . . I’m going to try writing about those worlds, or at least some of them. I’m still thinking about asking a character or two to guest blog, but that’s an issue too because none of them would give a rat’s tail wag about a blog. Except maybe Galahad and Orchid, but that’s because they are rats.

For now, what I’m going to do is excerpts, sometimes including comments if I can think of something interesting, like the moment I came up with an idea or how a character came to be.

Tonight, though, I’ll stick with a scene from my self-published book Enchantment’s Endgame: Magic’s Guardian. This particular moment spans the end of Chapter One and the start of Chapter Two. Terraceleste has found her way through the Faerie Circle to Faerie Underhill, and been welcomed by the royal family, Titania, Oberon, and their son Maclyn. Well, a bit more than welcomed by Maclyn as you’ll notice. Maclyn’s best friend Puck–yep, him–has convinced Terra and Maclyn to join him in a bit of mischief that, as Puck has been known for, goes quite badly awry. It was a later scene I added because I thought Terra wouldn’t be comfortable falling into Maclyn’s arms quite so quickly, magic or no, and I’m glad I did, it ended up being one of my favorites.

Maclyn was quiet for a time, a smile growing slowly on his lips as he reached over to tug at a curl of Terra’s soft hair. He leaned towards her, close enough that his breath brushed against her face, rich with the scent of spices. “Maybe,” he murmured, “you’re thinking the same thing I am.”
Terra should have expected it, but she was suffering from a deplorable overabundance of inexperience. She jumped when his lips touched hers, pulling away in surprise and at the fleeting, horrified idea that he had read her thoughts.
Studying her face, Maclyn read amazement but no alarm. He grinned, wrapping one arm around her waist and pulling her against him, solidly yet with a grip she could easily escape. Of course no such desire existed; no, her racing heart was not from fear.
He brushed her mouth with his and this time she stayed still. Maclyn’s lips were as soft as the rainbow of silks they lay on, and his warm scent wrapped around her, more intoxicating than any wine he cared to feed her. It was heady, musky, like wildflowers and rain forests and smoke and . . . and freedom. She breathed it deep, trembling with a chill that wasn’t in the least unpleasant, giddy from the mixed effects of the alcohol and his nearness.
Terra was hesitant, unsure how to respond, until he prodded her with lips and tongue. She finally began to return the kiss, her hand rising unconsciously to tangle in his dark hair and he pulled her even closer, so that every inch of their bodies that could possibly touch, did.
His hair was even softer than his lips, like sliding shadows through her fingers. Warmth seemed to seep from his body and curl into hers, pulling her tight all over and forcing a small primal sound from her throat. She wondered what was wrong with her; she was most definitely not “that” kind of girl. What was she doing letting him wrap himself around her like . . . like . . . like something that wrapped very closely around something else? Was the wine even more addling than she thought? No, the tiny part of her that was still thinking was thinking clearly enough . . . another strong waft of his masculine scent breathed over her and the already distant thoughts became more muffled as she inhaled.
Maclyn rolled Terra onto her back with a nudge, keeping his mouth sealed over hers.
“Maclyn!” Puck’s enthusiastic voice called from outside. The curtain over the door rustled and the excited faerie bounded inside. Maclyn’s head jerked up, breaking the embrace with an annoyed sound between a grunt and a growl. Terra felt a rush of mixed disappointment and relief, partially waking from the handsome elf’s influence. Then she felt an even bigger rush of embarrassment; the prince, his face flushed, frustrated, and confounded, still held her trapped with his body, his thighs straddling hers.
Completely oblivious to their compromising position, even when Terra started kicking Maclyn to get him off, Puck threw himself beside them on the bed, bouncing on all fours.
“Maclyn, you have to see what I found! I’ve got the best idea! They’ll go crazy!”
Maclyn rolled away from Terra, glaring at his friend. “Puck, sometimes I’d like to . . .
Mother is going to lose her temper some day, you know.”
Terra sat up, slightly breathless and trying, quite unsuccessfully, put out the bonfire on her face. “What are you talking about?” she asked in a voice just slightly too high pitched.
“The perfect joke,” Puck answered triumphantly.
“I thought you’d learned,” Maclyn snorted, keeping a covetous arm around Terra’s waist. She was doubly glad of Puck’s effervescent presence when she found herself leaning unconsciously into the embrace.
“Never,” Puck said with a wink at Terra. “But I need help this time.”
“Of the professional sort, as the humans would say,” Maclyn grunted sourly, looking suspicious at Terra’s growing interest. “Because I’m not sure even Thistledown can help you.” His arm tightened around her, his thumb stroking just her hip with a caress that made her shiver.
“A joke? On Oberon and Titania?” she asked to mask it. “Is that . . . a good idea?”
Both men looked at her. “You have read the play?” Maclyn asked, his dark eyebrows raised.
“Oh. Right. Ultimate mischief maker. But as I recall, it doesn’t always turn out well.”
Puck snorted. “You and Maclyn. Old William at least had a sense of fun. Come on, it’ll be funny. Hilarious. It won’t hurt anything, I promise. It’ll just make them growl a little.”
Maclyn frowned at Terra, who realized a grin was spreading over her face. By now her interest was real and she turned large, sparkling eyes on the prince. How could anyone turn down the chance to be puckish with the original Puck?
Sighing, Maclyn stared skyward, silently imploring the heavens to grant him patience. “Well? What is it?”
Puck’s grin stretched impossibly wide and he bounced on the bed, leaning in close to relate his plan. Terra started to laugh before he was half finished, and soon even Maclyn’s mouth began to crook up at the corners.

Chapter Two

Either I mistake your shape and making quite
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery; . . .
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
Are you not he?
-A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare

TERRA PEERED AROUND a thickly foliaged bush, narrowing her eyes at the huge wood and canvas shelter that Puck and Maclyn pointed out. It seemed a dangerously long way from their hiding place, but the clearing was surprisingly bare; she must have been locked in that blood-heating wrestling match with the prince for longer than she had thought. Still, there was an occasional straggler staggering his or her way through the pink light of the rising sun, and more than one who had found their rest out in the open. “Are you sure this will work?” she whispered out of the corner of her mouth. “There are still people awake. And what if they come out before . . .”
“No one will pay us any mind,” Puck reassured her cheerfully. “The few in any shape to notice either won’t care, or will cheer us on. And our King and Queen won’t come out.”
“But . . .”
Puck and Maclyn exchanged grins. “Trust him,” the prince said, then paused thoughtfully. “Perhaps not trust him . . .” He jumped back before Puck’s punch could land.
“All right, boys, we’d better get started,” Terra prompted. “We’ve got work to do.”
“Yes ma’am!” Puck barked.
“Quiet!” Maclyn hissed. “Not everyone is quite as distracted as their majesties. Come on. Have you got them?”
“Of course. I know my business.” Puck reached under the bush and pulled out three large seed pods that looked a little like giant milkweeds.
“This?” Terra yelped. “We’re supposed to use this to . . .”
“Don’t forget where you are,” Maclyn interrupted. “We’ll have to be careful not to use too much. And it’s a little unstable, so keep it away from any direct flames.”
That sent off a small twinge of alarm. “Unstable? Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”
“Once it melts, it’s as harmless as air,” Maclyn reassured her. “No one would be foolish enough to hold a torch to it.”
She still hesitated. “You’re not going to chicken out, are you?” Puck demanded.
The elf smiled, taking some of the sting out of his tone, but Terra scowled and grabbed one of the pods. “What do I do?” she snapped.
Puck showed her how to crack the pod along a natural seam, exposing a space filled with glittering white grains. A cool breeze wafted up from it, bringing a clean, fresh scent. “Snow!” she whispered, delighted. “It’s really snow!”
“These plants germinate in intense cold,” Maclyn explained. “So they create their own. There’s enough inside to last several months, long enough for the seeds to sprout and the plant to flower.”
Terra cocked her head, brow creasing. “Wait a minute. Flammable snow? Are you trying to . . .”
“Snowseed snow isn’t frozen water,” Puck interjected.
“Oh.” Terra held the pod a little further away from herself. Maclyn laughed. The sound vibrated up her spine, making it impossible to glare.
“Ready?” Puck prodded.
“This,” Terra observed, “is mean.” Choking back a giggle, she peered around the bush to make sure no one was watching. The only faerie in sight was fast asleep, curled up on the ground at the edge of the clearing. Without waiting for her partners, she darted into the open, running low towards their target.
The three of them crouched together in the shadows. “Stand back a little,” Maclyn advised. Terra obeyed, and all three opened their pods wide, aiming them at the base of the shelter. The snow piled up quickly, swirling out in triplicate blizzards, the cold wind whistling shrilly.
“They’ll hear us,” Terra murmured nervously.
“No they won’t,” Maclyn and Puck chorused with identical lecherous grins. Terra blushed the hottest yet, ignoring Puck’s snicker. Really, if any more blood rushed to her face tonight, she was going to faint from loss of blood pressure.
The snow drifted until it reached halfway to the roof, in a heap that completely surrounded the shelter. The supply seemed endless; Terra stared into her pod, finding it still three-quarters full. Just peeking out of the ice was a large round object, shiny black against the white. “Don’t let it plant itself, or winter will come early this year,” Maclyn warned. “I still remember the last time there was an infestation.” He shivered and plucked the dark seed out of his pod.
Forcing her hand past the cold wind, Terra dug into the pod. The seed was round and perfectly smooth, like a large ball bearing, and cold enough to steam in the warmer air outside its small home. She tucked it into her pocket, blowing on her aching hand as she stood back to view their handiwork. “Puck, you’re a master,” she chortled.
“What doing?” a bright little voice asked, interrupting Puck’s bow. Rosebud skipped to his side, her wide eyes gleaming up at the brown elf.
“Where’s Thistledown?” Maclyn asked, looking around nervously. “She won’t tell them, but if they ask . . .”
“It’s not like they won’t know anyway,” Terra snorted. “It’s a little late to worry now.”
“You speak true, oh wise one,” Puck agreed blithely.
“Mother sleep.” Rosebud peered into Terra’s pod. “Cold!” she squeaked, jumping back and landing in the snow. Surprised, she stood very still for a second before her cupid mouth spread into a smile and she began to wade knee-deep through the tiny frozen grains. After a minute she began to shiver; clambering out, she snatched Puck’s Snowseed pod and scampered away, giggling like the most adorable of mad things.
Maclyn started to go after her, but Puck stopped him. “Let her play. She’s out in the open; she can’t hurt anything.”
Maclyn hesitated, watching the young elf dump a pile of snow on the ground in front of her and toss the pod away while she patted the stuff into different shapes. “I guess she’s all right,” he said reluctantly. “But we don’t need that stuff all over.”
“Don’t worry so much,” Puck advised. “You’re as big a curmudgeon as your father. Just wait and watch the show. They’ll notice something soon. That cold is going to seep in pretty fast.”
“Curmudgeon?” Maclyn muttered. Terra smirked, patting his shoulder in mock sympathy and leading them on the retreat back towards their hiding place. They hunkered down and watched from the thick branches, waiting for the royal couple to emerge.
Sitting in the grass, Maclyn pulled Terra into his lap, wrapping an arm around her in an undeniably possessive gesture. Terra leaned back against him comfortably, wondering why a display that she would have found provoking from anyone else just made her insides tingle with a pleasant prickly feeling.
The prickle magnified when his hands began to drift. The caress was casual and didn’t touch anything indiscreet, but it made her stiffen and arch her back against him. What was it about him that made her hand wind in the soft, mossy grass under them, her fingers tearing out blades and digging into the earth underneath? What made her allow it without decking him a good one?
The chuckle that rumbled from him was masterful, conquering, completely sure, and the sidelong smirk Puck threw him was both knowing and amused. Annoyance at them both cooled some of Terra’s out-of-character ardor. Jaw jutting with a touch of defiance, she shifted her weight back, directly over a certain sensitive part of his anatomy, with a jostle that was anything but gentle.
Maclyn grunted in painful surprise. Puck clamped a hand over his own mouth to muffle the laughter that rocked his shoulders. “You’re playing with the big girls now,” Terra purred, settling back in place more gently, in a way that brought a gasp to the prince’s lips.
“Careful, Mac,” Puck said with a half-grin of admiration aimed at her. “I like this one. She’s not going to let you get away with anything.”
Terra smiled to herself, shocked at her own daring and sudden playfulness. Maclyn hugged her from behind, holding her tight and immobile while he kissed her earlobe, tickling it unmercifully. She squirmed, and then went still, her gaze caught by a bright glow that she glimpsed between the branches sheltering them from discovery. Whatever it was floated through the air, heading for Rosebud and trailing what looked like blue and white flames. She elbowed Maclyn in the chest. “What’s that?”
Puck froze, his face turning slightly green, his legs tangling when he tried to jump to his feet. Maclyn looked up and groaned out loud, pushing her off his lap. “It’s a ghost fly. Damn, I haven’t seen one around here in ages.”
“Is that real fire?” she asked, very carefully.
“No, but . . .”
The “but” catapulted her off the ground and sent her sprinting towards the little girl who still played elbow-deep in the sparkling snow. Untangling himself, Puck followed with a strangled creak from his dry throat. Maclyn joined the race as soon as he got his legs under him and he drew even with Puck, but they couldn’t catch the horrified girl.
Terra had never even dreamed of running so fast, or of strength flooding her limbs with sudden energy like rocket fuel, but the ghost fly landed on the snow pile before she could reach Rosebud. She heard a crackle and an ominous hiss like a shorting electrical wire. Blue and white fingers spread out from the fly, steaming as they went. Putting on an extra burst, her lungs burning, Terra scooped up the child and the discarded Snowseed pod, and kept running.
The explosion picked her up and threw her; she curled around the tiny faerie to protect her from a hard landing, trying to get her feet under her. She hit after what seemed like a long, lazy flight, her left leg folding under her, fire tearing its way through her knee. She managed to slow their momentum and roll, landing on her back instead of on top of the little elf, losing her wind and bruising her rips. Covering the little girl’s rusty head to protect her from the clods of dirt falling around them, she stayed still, feeling crushed and useless as she lay gasping, until a whimper prompted her to release her tiny burden. She pulled herself into a sitting position, trying to look unruffled, but she couldn’t stop a grimace of pain when the movement shifted her leg.
Maclyn and Puck lay sprawled together on the other side of the crater, Puck’s head pushed under the prince’s chest, Maclyn’s arms covering them both with what poor protection they could offer. Pushing himself up dazedly, Maclyn untangled himself and rose to wobbly feet, pulling the smaller elf with him.
Terra tried to rise too, but her knee gave out and she fell back with a pained cry that she cut off, clamping her teeth over it.
Neither man was fooled. Puck and Maclyn stumbled to her side, brushing off the dirt and grass that littered them all. “Terra! Terra, are you all right? You’re hurt!” Maclyn cried, dropping to the ground beside her to look for any obvious injuries.
“Just my leg,” Terra grunted, trying unsuccessfully to straighten it. “I don’t think it’s . . .”
“What’s going on?” a deep male voice roared, causing Rosebud to leap into Puck’s cradling arms and hide her face against his chest, her whimpers renewed.
The conspirators turned to see Oberon and Titania excavating their way out of the shelter, digging and wading through the snow heap. They were both decidedly rumpled, and the king’s face was red with rage. It was Titania’s face that inspired the real terror, however, especially when she spied Puck.
“This is your doing, Sprite, I know it is,” the queen snarled, very unqueenly in her anger as she reached them, hard-faced and damp, her clothes clearly thrown on with haphazard speed, her hair mussed and tangled about her shoulders.
“Mother . . .” Maclyn started.
Titania ignored him, whirling the full force of her fury on the brown faerie. “What did you think you were doing bringing these here?!”
Puck couldn’t answer, just kept his eyes lowered, cowering before the queen with all his mischief washed away. Maclyn tried to get her attention and she finally noticed Terra on the ground, her face white with pain and fear. The snarl on Titania’s face deepened and she knelt beside the human girl. Terra winced away from the queen’s violent cyclone of an expression.
“I’m not angry at you,” the queen answered her, each word followed by a low growl. “You’re hurt, thanks to the fool’s antics. Let me see.”
“I’m all right,” Terra insisted. “How’s Rosebud?”
“She’s fine,” Puck said, bouncing the little girl cuddled in his arms. Her head rested on his shoulder and her arms wound around his neck, holding tight to him with her wide eyes locked on the furious queen.
Titania threw Puck a single glare that made the tiny girl flinch and squirm. Puck withdrew, turning to take the full brunt of the expression, cutting off Rosebud’s line of sight.
“Get Thistledown,” the queen ordered. “Do something useful that takes you out of my sight. She’s been injured.”
Puck disappeared quickly and silently, ducking out from under the scrutiny of Oberon who for a moment looked more sad than angry. Terra didn’t notice the gathering crowd attracted by the commotion until they parted, letting Puck through and flowing shut behind him, cutting him off in a way that made Terra flinch. The king’s eyes followed as long as they could but he remained silent, conceding the situation to his wife. Terra opened her mouth to protest, but before she could make a sound she was shushed by both Maclyn and his mother.
“Don’t argue. It just encourages Mother,” Maclyn said with an attempt at lightness. Folding the skirt of her dress up, he hissed at the swollen, already purple mangle of her knee.
Terra jerked away, bristling at him, shaking and feeling increasingly ill. “I’ll be fine!” she insisted, ashamed that her voice squeaked. “Rosebud could have been hurt, and it would have been my fault!”
Murmuring low, Maclyn cradled her much as Puck held Rosebud, careful not to jostle her leg. “This wasn’t your fault, don’t be silly. No one was hurt. The little one wasn’t hurt. Because of you. I’ve never seen anyone move so fast. And it was smart of you to grab the pod. If that had been caught in the ghost fly’s fire . . .” he shuddered, letting her imagination finish his sentence.
“This whole place would have been blown to pieces,” Titania stared gruffly. “We eradicate the Snowseed plants when we find them growing anywhere near. Where that little . . . I’d like to know where he found them.”
Terra squirmed. “Please, your Majesty, I was just as much at fault. Puck didn’t . . .”
“I know well who came up with this idiotic excuse for a joke, and I know what that charming hobgoblin can be like. You had no way to know the danger.”
Terra’s eyes flicked from Titania to the silently hovering, flush-faced king. “But I . . .”
Maclyn’s sharp nudge cut her off. “It was a plant that was ready to go to seed,” he supplied quietly. “Puck uprooted it after he harvested the pods. We all removed the seeds from these, so there was no danger of another growing.”
Titania’s face stiffened at the thought that some good might have come out of Puck’s mischief. She tossed her head, refusing to acknowledge the statement. Oberon sighed quietly above their heads. Terra looked uncertainly at Maclyn, who could only shrug.
Returning at a fast trot with Thistledown in tow and Rosebud riding his shoulders, Puck avoided Oberon and Titania’s glares, hunkering to the ground beside Maclyn. Thistledown’s face paled when she saw the scene of devastation, brushing Rosebud’s red hair on her way past, but she didn’t pause before kneeling beside the injured girl, gently moving Titania out of the way. She shook her head at the damage, prodding around Terra’s knee with sure, calloused fingers. “You really managed to mutilate it, didn’t you, my girl.” It wasn’t a question, not even a rhetorical one, it was a statement of hard fact, delivered in the slightly cold tone of one intensely focused on anything but conversation. Her tone softened and her eyes met Terra’s for a swift moment as she paused in her examination. “Puck told me . . . I won’t forget it was you who protected my daughter.”
Guilt twisted itself ever deeper. “But I . . .”
“Now hush and let me work.”
Terra didn’t understand until Thistledown took hold of her knee in both hands, gently working the joint with a surprisingly strong grip. The manipulation made Terra arch back against Maclyn’s chest, not in pleasure this time, but at the same time an odd feeling of hot and cold weaseled its way under the pain. She watched with some interest, the realization slowly dawning that the faerie woman was actually glowing, a nimbus of pale light forming around her, brightening until the aura overflowed from her hands onto Terra’s injured flesh, sinking in like a balm.
“Wha . . .” Terra tried to yank her leg out of Thistledown’s hands.
“She’s a Healer,” Maclyn explained, holding her still. “Just wait.”
The pain flared until it seemed white-hot blades were cutting the knee apart, making tears burn in her eyes. Maclyn rocked her gently until it began to fade, slowly erased by soothing warmth until at last Thistledown pulled away, leaving Terra’s leg whole and nimble.
Terra flexed her knee cautiously; it moved smoothly with no hint of discomfort. Maclyn got to his feet, pulling her with him. She stood gingerly at first, gradually putting more weight on it until she was standing on one leg. She gave a little hop, staring down at what, a minute ago, was a misshapen blue mess. “Amazing,” she whispered. “Thank . . . I’m sorry. I mean, you did a wonderful job.”
“Good. That’s taken care of,” Titania said briskly. She crossed her arms, turning an imperial face on the conspirators. Oberon stood just behind and to the right of his slender wife, still looking the lesser threat despite his greater bulk. Titania’s gaze swept over the three, landing squarely on Puck.
Squealing, Rosebud slid off his shoulders and hid behind him. Puck stood contrite, staring at the ground as his queen advanced. “Do you have anything to say in your defense?” she grated.
Puck’s shoulders slumped and he didn’t answer, not even a negative shake of his head. The queen’s fists clenched; at the moment she was unrecognizable as the sweet, gentle-faced woman who danced in a circle of friends only a few hours ago. This was a different creature, filled with icy rage and what seemed to be a hot hatred for the elf, buried deep and festering.
“Please . . .” it was hard for Terra to speak, fear of being made to leave, or worse, tying her throat in painful knots. But she couldn’t let the full force of that wrath fall on her friend. Shaking off Maclyn’s restraining hand and ignoring his emphatically shaking head, she barged forward to stand between Puck and Titania. “Please. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. My idea . . .” she trailed off, seeing that the woman wasn’t even going to try believing her.

Me again. Nope, Titania is still not fond of our knavish Puck. The story gets a bit more exciting later on, with danger and the Unseelie Court and even a car chase. As the first original novel I ever completed (how long ago? None of your bee’s wax), it is also the one that has gone through the most changes. The first draft was actually done on a typewriter. Cutting and pasting ended up being quite, quite literal for the first major rewrite, but fortunately after that I had the luxury of a hard drive, floppy disks, and . . . I am aging myself, aren’t I? Shutting up now.

Still, it was fun. Hope someone out there enjoys it.

Here’s a little more information on the series. http://llynkc.wix.com/kacie-llyn#

Good night, and sweet writing!

Almost forgot. Pic credits for book cover are as follows:
Eyes from: http://www.stockfreeimages.com/© Joseasreyes Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Trees: http://www.stockfreeimages.com/© Magicinfoto | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Back to Blogging

Hello, all. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the energy or inclination to post in my blog. Well, that’s not quite true, I suffered no lack of inclination. My issue came from having so many things I wanted to do, I’d get frozen in my free time. Do I edit this series, write the next book in this one, keep retyping the other, edit my friend’s book, organize my writing space, watch the dozens of movies I’m behind on, work on the Halloween project I’ve been preparing for since last Halloween, etc. It takes so long to commit to what I’m doing, much of the doing time is gone before I get there.

(Regarding the book I’m helping edit/proofread, it is The Midnight series, starting with The Midnight Within, out this July on Nook, Kindle, and I’m sure other formats I’m not yet aware of. If you like your vampires with blood, this is for you. No angsty I-want-human-blood-but-I-refuse, just old-fashioned horror, slaughter, and some clever commentary while they do it. Well, not so clever from a couple of the characters, but the twins are my favorites. Read it, you’ll see what I mean. Yes this is a shameless plug but it is a plug of somebody else’s work and I mean every word.)

I did unfreeze enough to complete a couple more of my Scarydolls. They’re nothing like as fun as Spirit of Halloween’s Zombie Babies, but I can’t rely just on those for my project because I don’t own enough of them. I also got quite a bit of organizing done in my writing space, though it’s not close to done. Got a little further on the editing, and a some done on each of my series. But blogging, self-promoting, updating my author website and Facebook fan page, basically anything having to do with selling anything was put in a box in the back of my mind and shelved away in a cobwebbed corner.

It doesn’t help that I suck at self-promotion. But I’m working on it. I post a blog and Make It Public. The number of readers doesn’t matter, it’s that I do it, because it goes against my very nature. Someone could click on my blog and read the very words I’m typing now, and THINK about them, even form an opinion. Scary.

But I’m working on it, blogging, Tweeting, and next will be posting on a few forums. Maybe, just maybe, I can sell more than two books. If not, on to the next one, and the next, and the next. Hey, I have plenty floating around on paper and in my head. Maybe I can find a more exciting blog inspiration too. Still thinking about having a character or two as a guest blogger. It would be a good writing challenge, taking someone like, oh, Puck, and throwing him into a situation he would . . . well, Puck being Puck he would probably love it, and most likely would find a way to attach some kind of mischievous virus to my blog so perhaps he wouldn’t be the best to invite. If anyone could figure out how to sour milk through a computer, it would be him.

So we’ll see. My fiction is usually much more entertaining than my fact. But for now, back to the editing, writing, typing, and watching movies. Cheers, all, and good luck with your writing and marketing. One successful author encourages us all!

Just in case anyone cares, here’s all the links to my books, web site, and Facebook page. Or at least the URL addresses. For some reason links don’t like me, so if they don’t work, I grovel at your feet begging forgiveness.

Web: http://llynkc.wix.com/kacie-llyn#

Magic’s Guardian Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0KHUW0

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magics-guardian-kacie-llyn/1114134634?ean=2940015956313

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EnchantmentsEndgame?

Writing is Work

The Big Day is almost here. It’s just a week to 01-13-13, and I have realized something. Writing is work. Not that I didn’t know that before, but when someone decides to publish, there is a bit less of the pure entertainment and a bit more of the career seriousness about it.

I now have not one but three email accounts, each with a different purpose. I posted a book preview on Youtube, and though it is far from perfect, more an experiment than what I would call an actual advertisement, I spent significant time and effort. I finally created a cover, using a photo I was actually quite impressed with out of my antique of a digital camera. I’ve begun researching tax laws (NOT fun). I’m trying to come up with other forms of marketing that won’t break my budget, including designing an author web page and figuring out how to do a Facebook fan page, just for starters. Fun, but intimidating. I spent roughly five hours making sure my manuscript is formatted correctly (and couldn’t keep the editing bug still even then, which only made it longer.) All after losing a day because of food poisoning/stress/upset (we lost two of our dogs on Wednesday. It was tough, and a shock, but the way they went downhill so fast at the same time was almost like they wanted to go together. I do love picturing them waiting at the edge of the Rainbow Bridge, fighting like siblings and driving God and His son crazy.) I’m exhausted. And I’m loving it.

It’s not that I expect the book to do well. I’ll be lucky to sell one. But that doesn’t mean I won’t take it seriously.

The sad part is I still don’t feel myself to be a “real” writer. I have no problem calling other self-published authors a legitimate author who has (at least usually) paid their dues in blood, sweat, and tears over their work. I have no issues with telling other self-published writers that they most definitely ARE real writers and have earned the title by the time and love invested in their words. But not me. I don’t feel “real” because I haven’t been chosen by a publisher or agent. I’m not a writer because millions of people worldwide have not read my stories. I suppose most people hold themselves up to the harshest criticism. Maybe someday I’ll feel worthy of my own words.

Alas, I have come to the end of my inspiration for tonight. Still feeling a bit weak after Friday night’s anything but fun. And I still have to come up with an author profile that doesn’t sound pretentious, like a Jersey Shore-worthy bragging session, or just plain pitiful. Yikes. Self-promotion is my Kryptonite.

Don’t let anyone tell you self publishing is the “easy” way. There’s no such thing as an “easy” way.

Good night, sleep tight . . . eh, you know the rest. And good writing.

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RIP Gizzmo and Frankie