Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Monday, December 28, 2020

2020, I'm Breaking Up With You

Sorry, 2020, but I'm ending it.

I'd like to say it was a good run, but if I'm being honest, it was painful. Excruciating. Torturous.

I know the grass is always greener saying, but 2021 has a twinkle in its eye. It may treat me just as badly - that's a chance I'm more than willing to take at this point. Anything has to be better than this.

Unfortunately, I can't say it's me and not you. Because it's totally you. You've treated me (and many others) horribly.

I'd like to think I'll eventually look back on this time with a few fond memories. Nope. No way in hell.

You scrambled my senses, laughed at my aspirations, and made sure my progress stagnated. Your time was always more important than my own. Utter selfishness.

The only positive I can pull from all of this is that you likely made me stronger, more willing to adapt as needed, even if it means doing something I never imagined doing before. Isn't that always the case, though? We learn from the bad. And, oh man, you were bad.

So, with a sigh of relief, I bid you adieu. All the cliches come to mind: don't let the door hit you on the way out, you're getting kicked to the curb, miss you never, sayonara sucker. Ad nauseum.

That time of yours you so valued above my own? Yeah, it's run out.

Author Note: I hope you liked my Dear John letter of sorts. I'm sure many of you are feeling something similar! I won't be talking about what I didn't accomplish with my 2020 writing goals, as I think the above says enough. Next week it'll be 2021, and I'll have a fresh new post with my goals for the New Year. Happy reading!

Image by Jazella from Pixabay

Monday, December 07, 2020

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 25

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter will be posted to Born to Write and Wattpad about one month after it's released to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to see the posted chapters a month sooner, please consider signing up for my Author Newsletter!

Chapter 24

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 25

Damian struggled to keep his composure. He didn't want Obsidian to see how disconcerted he was by the implications that were thrown around in his room.

So, he made sure she was settled in the study room, and after she groaned a couple times about not being able to concentrate on the precepts with so much on her mind, especially tonight's plans, he insisted she attempt to focus and left.

Though he completely understood her difficulties, he didn't think she could imagine his. He'd been raised in Guardian society, indoctrinated in the belief of the precepts.

And now he was questioning his entire existence, Bishop's declarations too sobering to ignore.

Damian wandered among the portals, examining each one he passed, wondering if there was a darker reason why the Guardians no longer allowed travel to other worlds. Constantly turning the questions over in his mind wouldn't help, though.

Determined to make some sense of this madness, he found himself entering another building in the courtyard. Council members and those with higher statuses in Guardian society lived here. His parents had moved to quarters here shortly after he'd turned sixteen and transferred to a similar roommate situation as Obsidian, but with Guardian children only. Of course, most times they were out and about in Nect, but his mother had returned a week ago. She'd be off again in a couple days. Hopefully she had a few moments to speak with him.

Though he'd need to be extremely careful about how he queried her -- no good to reveal the adventures he'd been up to with Obsidian these last handful of days. Not at all.

He tapped on the residence door.

A moment later, Jana opened the door in a flurry of haste, peering at something behind her. "Yes? It's madness here trying to prepare things before I leave again, so I don't have much time." She finally turned, and her mouth parted. "Oh. Damian. I thought you were Liss."

Part of him insisted he turn right back around and bolt. She didn't have time for his foolishness. But his feet were rooted -- it had been too long since he'd seen her last. "Hi, Mother."

A small smile touched her lips and she ushered him inside. "What brings you here?"

He wondered if this would be how Obsidian's mother would welcome her. No, he suspected she'd take her daughter up in her arms and envelop her in a warm hug.

All he ever got was that small smile.

"I'm sorry to bother you, but I was hoping you had a few minutes to talk. I think you may be able to shed some light on questions I've been pondering lately."

"Question not the wisdom of the words."

A precept. Always. Damian had memorized them well before he turned sixteen and started his more serious studies because Jana couldn't resist quoting them often. And he hated hearing her constantly parrot them when he'd ask a simple question.

He rubbed the back of his head when he realized he'd done the same to Obsidian before. For the love of the Ancients, he'd turned into his mother.

In a darker vein, he considered if the precept she'd just quoted had the intent to squash any questioning of the precepts themselves. Thoughts he shouldn't have.

"Of course, Mother. But nonetheless, I beg you spare me an ear, just for a moment."

"I guess I'll indulge you briefly, but while I work. I have papers to go through before I leave again." She settled herself behind a desk in the small living area, and promptly started reading over one of the aforementioned papers.

Damian reluctantly took a chair on the opposite side of the desk. He also hated speaking to her when she was preoccupied with other tasks, which was most of the time. No other option, though.

"Well, go on. I'm listening, promise." Jana scratched her signature on the paper with a fountain pen, a twin to his own, as she'd gifted it to him when he became a Guardian. She moved to the next paper without looking up.

Unfortunately, he was at a loss on how to word his worries. This was harder than he thought it would be. So he picked his way carefully, one word after another, lest she shoo him out for wasting her precious time with silence. "I've been wondering about the Ancients and their magic lately..."

"The past is gone and the future unclear -- neither hold value over this moment." The precept fell from her lips and she didn't miss a beat, still engrossed on her current paper.

Damian yearned to shove her papers to the ground and tell her to stop quoting the damned rules and just listen for once. His time with Obsidian had made his thoughts far more impulsive than they used to be. However, he at least wasn't to the point where he acted on them.

Perhaps he'd come to the wrong person for this chat, but his mother was pretty much all he had. Close friendships had eluded him, the kids preferring to bully him over befriending him. So, he continued on, dreading the next canned precept response. "Along the lines of magic, do you know if the Guardians, or anyone else in Nect, ever used magic as well?"

Jana's head shot up, latching onto his gaze, her eyes wide and a bit wild. "Whatever took you down this line of thought?"

Damian hadn't had her devoted attention like this since he was small. He squirmed in his seat. "I... I've just been curious about Nect's history is all. Re-reading the books in the library have gotten stale, and I must admit my daydreams have run away from me at times." He hoped that was explanation enough for her -- it felt as though her stare aimed to scan his mind.

Her brow furrowed ever so briefly, and then she sat straighter, putting on that small smile of hers. "You've always been too much of a daydreamer, Damian. But you know the answer to your question, clear as the words etched on every gate in the courtyard."

He sighed, almost refusing to say them, but then allowed them to tumble out, his mother speaking them with him. "The past is gone and the future unclear -- neither hold value over this moment."

Jana nodded and dipped her head back to her papers. "Is that all?"

"Yes, of course. Thank you, Mother." He stood, glad she wasn't paying attention to him, or she'd witness his stiff movements. "Ancients bless your next journey. Perhaps we'll speak again when you return." Good thing the stiffness and formality in his voice was the norm around here.

"Have fun with that dedicant of yours."

Damian paused halfway to the door and glanced back at his mother, but she still remained engrossed in her work. Her comment had seemed odd, out of character.

No matter. He needed to get out of here.

So, he strode to the door, resisting breaking out in a run. Once he was back in the courtyard, he sucked in a shuddering, deep breath.

At least his mother had seemed to accept his explanation. The last thing he wanted was her suspicions honed in on him, especially after that scrutinizing stare.

And because now Damian knew she was keeping secrets. That reaction was too abrupt to consider otherwise.

Jana and the rest of the council of Guardians were lying to the rest of Nect.

The truth in all things. What a load of bullshit.

Damian's perceptions unraveled, and he was afraid his mind would collapse with them.

* * * * *

Chapter 26 - Expected February 2021.

Monday, November 02, 2020

NaNoWriMo 2020 - NaNo Bites

No, no, I'm not saying NaNo sucks, although some people might think it does (NaNo Crud sucks, and I really hope it stays away for me this year). I'm talking about word bites!

So, I'm undertaking NaNoWriMo again this year. I've been on another 3-month hiatus due to kids and health, and I am mad with the need to write. And during my hiatus my brain decided to spawn an idea for a 13-book series. Yup. I'm crazy. And I should be working on all the other projects on my to do list, but here we are...

I don't expect to hit 50,000 words. I never have, and I suspect I never will, at least not until both kids are out of the house, but by then it's likely I'll have another job or two, so yeah. =P I'll definitely be trying my best, though.

My NaNo project for 2020 is called Gemini's Echo - the first in a series titled Zodiac Aegis. It's looking like it'll be New Adult Urban Fantasy.

This year I'll be taking a different approach. I won't be integrating my usual meter into the post. Instead, I'm giving myself stickers!

I have 100 NaNo Bites I need to take. Each Bite is 500 words. So, I made myself a handy little chart in Google Docs, which means I can share it with everyone. I'm going to try to do a thumbnail here in the post, but if it for some reason doesn't work nicely for everyone to view, you can use this link to take a look: NaNo Bites 2020.

How many unicorn stickers do you think I'll get this year? I'd love to see people make guesses on how many words I might reach! I already have two as of this post... and I'm like 37 words away from my third - lol. No more writing until later tonight again, though. Unfortunately, I have to adult and pay bills, balance accounts, and deal with kid homework.

Also, Eldest is home for the week doing virtual learning (was informed of this on Saturday), just to make the start of NaNo more difficult. Though this year, she'll be joining in on NaNo with me! She's participating in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. Her goal is 5,000 words, but she might raise it if she plugs along faster than she expected. I've also told her she can play 30 minutes of Genshin Impact during the week (usually it's weekends only) for every 250 words she writes. Wish her luck!

Speaking of Genshin Impact, I'll need to resist the call of that game and others if I want to get more words down. Happy NaNoing everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 24

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter will be posted to Born to Write and Wattpad about one month after it's released to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to see the posted chapters a month sooner, please consider signing up for my Author Newsletter!

Chapter 23

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 24

A fresh wave of guilt prickled along Obsidian's skin when Damian entered the room, arms full with two trays stacked with food. Thankfully, his eyes were fixed on his burden, so he didn't see her sitting close to Bishop.

She sprang up to help him, snatching one of the trays and setting it on the desk.

Only after talking to Bishop, she realized why she felt so damned guilty. Almost everything she'd done since she stepped into the House of Portals had made Damian's life... more complicated. She'd been terribly selfish, just like Bishop. Her only saving grace was that she never tried to kill Damian.

Unless she counted thunking him with the book. Again, compulsion.

No, she shouldn't make excuses. Especially since Damian could have ended this charade anytime he wished. By the Ancients, he could have revealed her that first day in front of the council members.

He hadn't, though. Even when he'd assumed she'd touched the gate and broken the first precept, he hadn't run to tattle on her. No one shall touch the gates without permission.

Obsidian had done so much more than that, and instead of turning her in to save himself, Damian had stood by her. Endured her.

So yes, feeling guilty for sneaking about behind his back and giving into a foolish attraction by kissing Bishop made complete sense.

And it was definitely a foolish attraction. Bishop had manipulated her, starting with rescuing her from certain death at the bottom of a gorge. She couldn't believe she'd allowed herself to gush over his heroism and good looks. From now on, she'd focus on getting them all out of this mess. Then on her gate back home. No more distractions.

Damian set the other tray on his bed next to Bishop. "Help yourself." After grabbing a pear, he leaned on the door, as if to make sure neither Bishop or Sid escaped. "What happened while I was gone?"

How much he clearly distrusted her hurt and infuriated her at the same time. "Nothing." She swallowed her fury down with a cashew butter and fig preserve sandwich that she found on the tray she'd grabbed.

Bishop gobbled up a similar sandwich -- his adventures this morning must have stirred has appetite.

"I doubt that." Damian tapped his leather bag. "Ever since you brought this book into the House of Portals everything but nothing has occurred."

He wasn't going to let it go. Obsidian missed his quiet, observational demeanor. No one to blame but herself. "Bishop may be ready to talk. Perhaps even starting with an apology."

"Oh, really?"

Bishop coughed as if choking on his bite of apple. He composed himself and stared at Damian. "I wasn't going to kill you."

So much for an apology. She'd held out too much hope.

"The marks on my neck say different."

These two weren't going to make any progress unless she prodded them along. "Neither of you like each other. We get that. Now can we move on? Or we'll be stuck in this room trying to figure out our next step for several years."

"I already know the next step." Damian placed his pear core on the tray and grabbed a sandwich of his own, then returned to his spot blocking the door. "Tonight, we send Bishop back."

Bishop pursed his lips and balled his hand into a fist, then he sighed, releasing his tension, and shook his head. "Honestly, I want to go home. But..."

Damian chewed his sandwich, studying Bishop, not responding. That was as close as he was going to get to encouraging the otherworlder to continue.

Obsidian gritted her teeth and set the remains of her sandwich on the tray. These two. "What's the deal, Bishop? What exactly do you want from us? From Nect? The Guardians?"

He turned to her, mouth parted. "Nect?" His brows drew together. "Never mind." He rubbed his hands on his breeches and sucked in a deep breath. "Honestly, I came here to find something to help save my world. Knowledge, magic, technology. Anything that might stop the war that's torn Turss in two for centuries."

"Since the Guardians left?" She couldn't resist her fascination with Bishop's world. So different from Nect -- though she hated history texts, she'd likely happily consume any about Turss without nodding off as she was wont to.

"Yes." A sadness descended on him. It reminded her of the fog surrounding the gate and chain. "The Guardians brought magic to Turss. They agreed to exchange their knowledge of magic for the secrets to our technology. And they did teach us. It was as though the Ancients who built the gates had returned with a precious gift. But once they'd taken the tech they wanted, they abandoned Turss, fleeing to their own world and not leaving the key, a portal book, behind to pursue them. You see, though they taught us the magic, they didn't fully teach us how to control it. This led to many disasters, which included casualties. Then two factions formed. One supported tech and the other magic. And more casualties."

Bishop's hatred toward Guardians -- this was where it stemmed from. In essence, they'd slaughtered people in his world with their actions. Or inactions.

Damian stared at the remains of his sandwich. "But that doesn't make sense. Guardians don't know magic. Only the Ancients did."

"I'm not lying." Bishop stood and growled.

The calm, calculating Damian had returned, his voice even and inquisitive. "I never said you were."

"The Guardians are a bunch of rule-creating overlords. They force the normal people of Nect to follow their edicts about the gates. But they definitely don't know magic." More and more, Obsidian wondered if the Guardians had been hiding more secrets than she had from Damian, though.

Her mentor snorted and hardened his gaze.

"Sorry." She'd just pretty much called him a rule-creating overlord. Oops.

Damian finished his sandwich and Bishop settled back on the bed to eat his apple.

The silence made Obsidian want to claw her eyes out. But the information Bishop had just shared did take time to absorb.

How could the Guardians have taught his people magic? Unless they kept their use of magic hidden. Then why wouldn't Damian know of it?

Too many questions. No answers. Bah.

Damian brushed his fingers off on his shirt. "Though I don't approve of your methods, I understand you're only trying to aid your world. Unfortunately, I don't think your answers lie here -- if the Guardians knew magic at one time, it's surely been lost. Passing years are the deftest thieves. Do not mourn that which has been lost."

"A precept?" Sid clicked her tongue. "Have you ever considered the precepts are simply a way to keep secrets? To stop anyone from questioning and discovering hidden truths?"

He shook his head. "That would go against another precept, then. The truth in all things. These rules are meant to avoid anarchy."

"They sound like a way to control the people of Nect." Bishop stood again, this time with less fervor at least. "Seems the Guardians are manipulating this world as they did Turss. And keeping the younger ones of their own kind out of the loop as well."

"No, I can't believe that." Damian straightened and pursed his lips. "Guardians have the good of Nect at heart, which is why they no longer allow travel to other worlds."

Bishop rubbed his forehead. "You're a fool."

"Not as much as you. You forced us to take you with us, and for what? Nothing. There's nothing here for you." Damian stepped closer to Bishop, and both of them balled their hands into fists.

Sid squeaked and wiggled in between the both of them. "Either you back down, or I'm going to knock both of you on the head with a book."

A corner of Damian's mouth twitched, but he stepped back and leaned against the door again. "What more do you want from us? What do you think we can give you? Even if your preposterous claim is correct and the Guardian council is keeping secrets from me and others, there's nothing I can do about that. Not unless I want to be excommunicated."

Excommunicated? Try put to death. Well, perhaps she was wrong about that. She hoped she was.

Bishop sighed and flopped on his back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. "I hate admitting defeat."

"Don't think of it that way." Obsidian sat next to him, Damian's ire be damned. "You came here to gather information, and you have. The Guardians are shadows of their previous incarnations. Weakened, inconsequential."

Damian cleared his throat.

She really had to stop insulting him, but he needed to lighten up. "Oh, you know I'm not talking about you directly. Stop getting so upset."

His lips twisted, and he looked down at Bishop. "Do you agree to go back? Tonight?"

The otherworlder closed his eyes. "Yes."

Damian's body appeared to relax, as if he'd been unimaginably tense. "Good. No more surprises?"

Bishop grunted and rolled to his side. Seeing him so crushed bothered her. Nothing like the vibrant, determined man who'd saved her from falling to her death.

"I'll take that as a yes. Now, Obsidian and I have other tasks to tend to. Please stay here this time, or I fear our luck with not getting caught will run out."

"Will do." The words were flat, unemotional.

"I'm sorry, Bishop." Sid wished she could help, to discover something, anything to heal him and his world. Obviously the gate seemed to think she could, with its maddening call. Stupid gate, what did it know?

Damian opened the door and motioned her out. "You have studies to get back to. More controlling precepts for you to memorize."

"Yeah, yeah." She slipped out the door.

Though Sid couldn't assist Bishop with Turss's war, she'd at least make sure he got home safely. But her determination was muddied. She knew it was another excuse to open the gate again, if Damian let her.

More importantly, she needed to figure out how to wrest the portal book from her mentor's hands once the gate closed again. She wouldn't allow him to burn it. Not before she had the chance to step through her portal back home.

No, he couldn't burn her book.

* * * * *

Chapter 25

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 23

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter will be posted to Born to Write and Wattpad about one month after it's released to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to see the posted chapters a month sooner, please consider signing up for my Author Newsletter!

Chapter 22

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 23

"This is unbelievable," Damian said. "It's a good thing I have the book now."

"You found it?" Finally, Bishop spoke.

"Yes, and once I send you back through the gate, I'm destroying it." He approached Bishop and grabbed his arm. "Until then, you're staying in my room."

Bishop shook Damian off. "Give me the book back."

He didn't know who to be more furious with -- Bishop, Obsidian, or himself for allowing both of them to play him. Probably the latter. He'd allowed his curiosity of Obsidian to cloud his judgment since she'd entered the House of Portals. "Neither of you are going to touch this book ever again. It should burn along with the rest."

His stomach lurched at his declaration. Did he really want that? So much had been lost. But clearly the Guardians had good reason to destroy all the portal books, and Bishop's actions only supported that decision.

"No." Obsidian reached toward him, then drew back, forehead crinkling. "You can't." Her words were barely audible.

Bishop grunted and leapt, knocking Damian off his feet.

It all happened so quickly, Damian failed to react before he realized the back of his head thudded against the floor. His glasses popped off his face and tumbled away. Head spinning and vision blurred, he felt the pressure of the other man on top of him, yanking at the bag's strap.

"Stupid, Guardian. Give it up." Bishop's hand wrapped around Damian's throat and squeezed.

Damian clutched his attacker's wrist with both hands, gasping, desperate for air. If he only would have let go when they'd stepped through the portal. But Bishop obviously had less qualms about killing someone than he did.

"Bishop, stop!" Obsidian's movements were a complete blur, but she hovered over both of them.

He heard a loud thunk, and the hand released his throat.

"Stop, or I'll do it again."

Damian coughed, shifted to his side, and groped along the floor until he found his glasses and set them back on his face. Crooked, but better than nothing.

Obsidian glared down at Bishop, a copy of the precepts raised above her head. Books seemed to be her preferred weapon.

"You're attacking me after what just happened between us?" Bishop offered that grin of his.

Oh, how Damian wanted to punch it off his face.

"A mistake." She rose the book higher. "And one kiss doesn't mean I'm going to let you kill my mentor."

Silence descended for a few moments, Obsidian glaring down at Bishop, Bishop considering her, and Damian's head throbbing from a second blow in less than twelve hours.

"Wait." Damian's mind cleared a bit, but his voice rasped out painfully. "Did anyone see us? Hear us?" He glanced around, but thankfully didn't see anyone else in the alcove or coming around the corner. "If we don't cut this out now, all of us will be in trouble. Another Guardian gets a hold of this book and not only will it be destroyed, but I assure you you'll never see Turss again."

Bishop pushed himself up, turning to Damian, jaw tight and lips pressed together. "Okay, okay. I promise not to attack again." He raised his hands and glanced at Obsidian. "Just put the book down."

Her eyes darted between the two of them, then she huffed and lowered the book, replacing it on the shelf. Finally, she offered a hand to Damian.

He stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to make of her. One moment she was kissing Bishop, and the next she clunked him over the head.

Damian accepted her help, her touch tingling his palm, and woozily found his feet.

"Now what?" Obsidian started replacing the books scattered across the floor before receiving an answer.

"I don't know." He rubbed his head and studied Bishop who stood with arms crossed, staring at the leather bag. No, he wouldn't let down his guard again around this man. "Perhaps an early lunch while we figure out how to sneak this interloper back to my room."

Bishop partially bared his teeth, but remained silent otherwise.

"Unless you'd prefer to walk into the council building and turn yourself in? You know, never see your home again?" Damian knew that had ultimately settled the man, and he'd pull it out as a reminder as needed. And if that didn't work, he'd satisfy his urge to punch the bastard.

Obsidian finished shelving the books, then sidled up to him, tilting her chin up to whisper in his ear. "I'm sorry."

Her words soaked into Damian's soul, and he so badly wanted to believe the sincerity in them. But he couldn't. Not with all the secrets she still kept.

No, like with Bishop, he couldn't trust her. Either of them might do anything to get their hands on the book, even whisper seemingly innocent words in his ear.

Bishop brooded the whole while they snuck back to Damian's room. After the threat from the Guardian, he so badly wanted to draw attention to himself just to piss him off, but then the threat would become reality without Damian lifting a finger.

It took some time to reach their destination with so many Guardians and dedicants about, and once they arrived at the quiet and safety of the room, Damian was sweating buckets. Good. Anything that made this uptight man more miserable the better.

Damian removed his glasses and straightened the bent stems. They remained crooked when he put them back on, though.

Bishop snickered.

"Do you think this a grand joke?" The Guardian narrowed his eyes. Oh, definitely mad. Maybe even furious.

"The situation, no. Your face, yes." He sat on the edge of the bed and crossed his arms, enjoying the red rising in the other man's cheeks.

Sid snatched the glasses before Damian reacted. "Let me see them." She turned them around in her hands, then raised them above her and squinted. A few deft movements and she'd made some adjustments and perched them back on Damian's nose. All straight. "There you go."

The woman was an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. He'd been sure he hooked her with that kiss, and then she'd knocked him upside the head with a book.

Well, he had almost strangled the life out of Damian. But he wouldn't have, truly. He just wanted the man to pass out so he could get the bag. Death and violence were under the blink's purview. Though now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure how he'd become a hero for Turss if he didn't get his hands dirty. Unfortunately, his method of getting dirty included flowerbeds.

Maybe he'd bitten off more than he could chew by coming here. Right now, all he wanted to do was return home and listen to the call of the gate.

"Thank you." Damian sounded tentative, and he took a step back. "Now, I hate to do this, but I don't have a choice. Obsidian, can I trust you to watch Bishop and keep your hands to yourself?"

She frowned. "Don't worry, last thing I want to do is touch him again. Biggest life regret."

The Guardian's eyebrow rose slowly. "Are you sure about that? Opening a gate should top your list."

"Hey, that was compulsion, remember?"

"Perhaps not handing over the portal book whenever and wherever you first found it?"

"Enough." Sid stomped over to the desk and sat down. "I get it. You're mad." She offered a withering stare. "Go. And you better hurry or I might do something else crazy." Her arms shot up, and she waggled her fingers above her head.

Damian rolled his eyes. "I'll be back with food. If he tries to escape, whack him on the head with another book." Then he slipped out and slammed the door.

Good riddance. Bishop turned his attention to Sid. "About time he left."

"Wipe that stupid grin off your face." She rose and ran a finger along the books on the shelves until she pulled one down. "This one has some nice heft."

"Seriously? What about the kiss?"

"As I said before, a mistake." She sat back down with the book in her lap and tilted her head. "I lost focus after you saved me. But now I see you only did that to get what you wanted."

She might only be a dedicant, but Bishop saw the heart of a Guardian in her. "I wouldn't have killed him."

"You're rotten, you know that? You have utter contempt for the Guardians, yet you're no better. Willing to do whatever it takes to benefit you and not thinking of anyone else. Damian might be rigid, but he doesn't deserve to be attacked. He could have done any number of things at this point to settle his life and destroy both of ours." She turned to the desktop and gingerly touched a fountain pen, her voice dropping to a whisper. "And he hasn't."

Bishop faltered, originally ready to deliver another smooth and reassuring line in an attempt to convince her that the kiss wasn't a mere manipulation. And now he felt as rotten as Sid claimed him to be.

She was right. Everything he'd done had been with his own goals in mind. Though he aimed to help his world, he also wanted his own name to go down in history as a hero, a savior. He'd been just as selfish as the Guardians who'd abandoned Turss all those centuries ago.

"I'm sorry." The words were difficult to say, but sincere.

Sid spun back to him. "If you mean it, you should say it to Damian."

Unlikely. He still hated the Guardian.

But Bishop suddenly felt lost, his hate for the Guardians the only thing for him to hold onto. He shouldn't be in this world -- the Nexus. This whole reconnaissance plan was out of his wheelhouse. He'd been trained to sense the magic of the gate, to read the script, and to waylay the Guardians if they ever crossed through again.

No wonder Sid hadn't fallen for his act with the kiss. He sucked at all of this.

Bishop buried his face in his hands. "What in the All-Seeing Eye have I gotten myself into?"

Sid sat next to him on the bed and rested a hand on his back. "Well, let's just hope Damian can help us figure a way out of this."

Her hand was a comfort, and he felt miserable for trying to use her before, using a kiss as a weapon. Though she had the potential of a Guardian, her heart seemed softer, more willing to accept situations and people for what they were, not condemning them for not meeting her expectations or following her rules.

Bishop gazed at her, the urge to kiss her again tempting, but for real this time.

Then Damian opened the door and she scooted away.

The loss of her touch caused an ache in the pit of his stomach. No, that was just hunger. It had to be. Because if it wasn't, he'd need to question his loyalties to Turss. And helping his world was all that mattered.

* * * * *

Chapter 24

Monday, June 29, 2020

It's Been A While - June 2020 (Writing Update)

The Staind song aside (yes, it's stuck in my head now), it has been a while since I posted. Actually, I was supposed to post last week. And I had the post all written up. Then the new Blogger interface ate it. Yes, gobbled it up.

I was having issues with the new interface to begin with (30 minutes to add tags to my post, no thank you), and I'm decidedly not thrilled with it. Heck, I was furious with it last Thursday. So, I'm now writing up my posts in Scrivener, and I managed to revert back to the legacy interface on Blogger (and I'll keep it like that until they pry it from my cold, dead hands).

I'm a little less cranky about it. OK, not really, but I'm currently channeling Grinka.

Yes, I'm back to writing! And though it wasn't on my schedule, I'm drafting the next Fractured Fairies story, currently titled Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies. And I already have the urge to write the next story, too.

Thankfully the anxiety has lessened a bit, and I'm done homeschooling my kids for the school year. The world is still in a bit of a tumult, obviously, but I won't get into my feelings over all of it because then the anxiety starts to rear its ugly head, and I can't have my mental health completely deteriorating on me.

For now, I'm writing again, and that feels great. Who knows what will happen come Fall, though - more homeschooling? Until then, I'm going to keep plowing ahead.

The yearly plan has been completely uprooted, of course. I never seem to learn with this whole planning thing. It never works out. My best laid plans don't just go astray, but blow up in my face in spectacular fashion. I kind of do feel like Grinka sometimes. Let me tell you, her current plans aren't unfolding as she wished either. Per usual, it's all the fairy siblings' fault.

Anyway, here's how the year currently stands. If you'd like to compare it to my original plan, you can find it on the 2020 - Keep On Rollin' post.

2020 Upcoming Publications

Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) - Fall 2020 - Yes, I've now pushed this out 6 months later than originally planned. It's also the only publication that I now have planned for 2020.

2020 Project Progress

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Rough draft complete - yay! And I've already sent out one of the brand new chapters in my Author Newsletter, which means I'll be posting it here in July, as well as on Wattpad.

Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies (Fractured Fairies, 4) - Again, this wasn't on the original plan for the year. I'm almost 7k into the rough draft, though, and I might have 2-3k left. I really needed to let loose with Grinka, Syndago, and the fairies before getting back to more serious stories.

Well of Solitude - I'm about 4k into the revisions of this. I'd just started working on it when the pandemic hit the fan, so to speak. Once I finish the rough draft of Bytes Bite, I'll be returning to this. However, I was wrong, it likely won't turn into a novella. My brain finally resolved some issues I had with the story, but it means more of a re-write for half of it, instead of just a revision. I'm hoping it will still come in around 16k when all is said and done.

Dead As Dreams, Fortunes of Fate 8, and Downward Spiral are now all on pause. I'm not sure when I'll reschedule them. It completely depends on what school looks like for the kids in Fall. Drafting is much easier than revising with the kids around, and humorous fantasy flows a lot better while all the serious stuff swirls around in reality. I think planning only one project at a time is the best bet right now.

❦ My main goal for the rest of the year is to keep on plugging away and pushing forward. The good thing is, even with all the anxiety, the ideas never stopped coming, and some are bugging the hell out of me. I want to write all the things NOW. So, once I'm done with the Bytes Bite draft and the Well of Solitude revision, I'm going to let my brain pounce on whatever project asserts itself the most next (at the moment, that's another Fractured Fairies story, but that could always change).

Nope, not discussing blog posts or newsletters. No way.

That's what things look like for me, though. I hope among the tumult, you've all been able to find at least a sliver of focus on something (anything, maybe even reading). Now let's hope I don't have to type this post up a third time.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Writing vs. Quarantine

Wow, what a curve ball Mother Nature has sent our way recently!

When this current situation started in the U.S. - Hubbie now working from home every day of the week, kids with pretty much two weeks of spring break instead of just one before diving into virtual learning (um, homeschooling), and me without a moment to myself any longer - I'd thought it would be a grand idea to do a funny diary-like post about the whole situation. As I've learned so often in life, things never turn out how I planned.

As each day passed, my notes quickly turned into not funny at all. And then I had to start homeschooling. Let me tell you, for a person that completely sucks at multi-tasking, my anxiety is beyond high simply from trying to teach Youngest (who doesn't want to listen to me) and field questions from Eldest (while Youngest yatters in my ear to go on with her school work so she can continue to not pay attention or believe a word I say).

This has seriously been rough on me the last nearly four weeks. So rough that I can't get any writing done due to a combination of time, energy, and anxiety.

And yes, I understand and sympathize with others out there who also have it rough (or rougher). I'm not pulling out a measuring stick, trying to compare who has it worse. It's bad for everyone, even if it's a different kind of bad for everyone (even for those people who are simply bored - I mean, I can't grasp the concept of ever being bored with my endless list of interests, but I do understand they are suffering in their own way as well).

So please let's not come into the comments with anything like, "You have it easy - it's so much worse for me!" I've quite had enough of people belittling other people's feelings and reactions to this whole situation.

For me, it simply boils down to, my anxiety is high, so high that I've been on the verge of an anxiety attack several times. And while many of the things causing me anxiety may not affect others the same, that's how those things affect me. Everyone is different, everyone reacts differently, each person has different levels of what they can take, so let's just all get along and sympathize with everyone else - this whole thing sucks all around. Period.

OK, off my soapbox. I guess mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed has been getting to me. Too much jabbing on all topics.

Which is why, pretty much after this post, I'm taking a big social media break. This will include blog posts. Hell, it was hard enough convincing myself I needed to write this one. I'm hoping to be back at it all come June.

And yes, as I mentioned already, I've been unable to write. Revisions of Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) are on hold, likely until June as well. I'm hoping in summer, even though the kids will still be home, there will be a lot less pressure due to no longer having to homeschool, and then I can banish them outside for a couple hours (or be nice and let them play video games every afternoon).

Until then, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to write a single word... well, aside from this post. I may start a new Fractured Fairies story just to blow off some steam if my anxiety levels decrease and allow me to have a bit more energy. I've been intending to have Grinka deal with a computer virus - maybe she'll be confronted with a real virus as well, who knows. Those stories have always been my way to vent about annoying situations or just plain have fun. Can you imagine Grinka quarantined with the fairies? Oh, boy.

I'm at least happy to declare my drive to write and conjure up new ideas hasn't been dampened. Stuff is just getting in the way of my ability to execute. =P And I have to accept that once in a while, it's time to put the original plan on pause and go back to it later.

None of us should be too hard on ourselves right now!

I've babbled enough. And since I did spend the time writing down some of the events once we started pretty much quarantining ourselves, aside from grabbing food and taking occasional walks, I'll leave you with a few here. Not the depressing ones. The ones that still give me a bit of a chuckle. I hope they give you a chuckle, too.

Diary of a Quarantined Writer Mom

Day 1 – Bickering broke out at breakfast. Kids had exhausted me by lunch. And then I gave up and played video games until dinner.

Day 2 – Drama over organizing a drawer – Eldest claimed it would take hours to straighten. It took 10 minutes. Pre-order for the Deluxe Edition of Final Fantasy VII Remake delayed – the horror!

Day 4 – Ostara (Spring Equinox)! Woke up with a headache and a beyond hyper Youngest. Where does she get all this energy? Amazon messed up categories for Mind Behind the Mind big time. Medical Romance? Um, no. Planted sunflower seeds, but too tired to dye eggs.

Day 5 – Anxiety climbing. Really need a schedule... if the kids would let me make one between all the other stuff I need to get done. Finally dyed some eggs – glad the kids had fun.

Day 6 – Played a hell of a lot of FFX and let the kids play video games, too.

Day 8 – Schedule for today – let’s see how it goes. It seems Minecraft pacifies the young rabble-rousers. For the most part. Still some drama while I was trying to revise.

Day 9 – Went for our usual walk, and clearly people aren’t taking this social distancing seriously. Another kid tried to give Youngest a shell, and after we backed away and said no thank you, the kid’s caregiver tried to insist it was "just a shell". No, means no. Move along. Do I need to carry a sign that says, "Observing Social Distancing"?

Day 10 – Woke up in an "I don’t care" mood. What do you think that means? More video games!

Day 11 – Eldest’s birthday. Unfortunately, our local baker couldn’t make the cake we ordered. So... Funfetti cupcakes instead! With blue frosting, of course.

Day 12-13 – Lots of video games!

Day 14 – How long does it take to plan three daily schedules and a single day’s lesson plan? All damned day.

Day 15 - First day of homeschooling. How long does it take for the schedules and lesson plan to unravel? Minutes. Oh, and drama over art/drawing? The one task I thought would be easy!

Day 16 – I can’t do this for five plus weeks. Argh! My brain is constantly being interrupted by the kids, notifications from teachers, and the million things I need to do speeding through my mind. My lack of multi-tasking skills are showing through. Writing time? What writing time?

Day 17 and Beyond – Gave up tracking the days. Everything’s blending into one big blob, a blob that I turn into every afternoon as I scroll through Facebook on the couch in utter exhaustion.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Mini Mind Splat #9: Invisibility

MINI MIND SPLAT WARNING: Nothing I comment on is meant to offend. It's simply my opinion and how I feel about certain things (mostly inconsequential things). I'd love to see thoughts from others in the comments. Just remember, have fun with it. This isn't meant to be super serious.

You can't see me!
I know, I said no more Mini Mind Splats for a while, but since I said that I've gone down to blogging whenever I feel like it, and right now I feel like venting/splatting a bit. ;) So let's get on with it!

Hello, my name is Alexa Grave, and my superpower is invisibility. No, not like Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. Hell, if I had a power like that, I'd actually be more visible, if you know what I mean.

Here, I'll use an example. A ton of books are published each day, which of course makes it insanely hard to get enough people to notice your book when you publish it. So you have to jump through hoops - do promos and post ads (this can be akin to flushing money down the toilet, and in my opinion a form of gambling, but that's probably a whole different Mini Mind Splat post). You also hit the social media and try to encourage your friends and family to help a little (it kind of sucks when you have a family that doesn't give a rat's patoot about your writing... again, a topic for another post).

You do all of that, and then... crickets. Yes, you do it the right way like how all the successful writers are recommending, and still crickets. It's like you completely just shouted into the void and wasted your time and money for zero results.

Now I know this isn't the best example because trying to get your books noticed is so damned hard, and many many writers are stuck in this situation. It was just the easiest one for me to talk about.

The thing is, this happens to me all the time. With writing, yes, but other things in life as well. I have good ideas that I want to execute, that I know are good ideas and others have done such things, and then I propose the idea and get maybe one person saying it's a great idea, but said person doesn't then participate in it nor does anyone else (friends and acquaintances alike). Half the time I feel like I've just being paid minimal lip-service, and then I'm instantly forgotten in the next breath.

Speaking of forgotten, that's also happened to me in certain instances. Or people constantly spelling things associated with me wrong, like my name and book titles.

It's like I have an aura of foregetability surrounding me, if not invisibility. Do I smell? Do I scare people? Does everyone secretly hate me but aren't willing to tell me to my face? (Honestly, I'm also usually the one that has to initiate plans with my friends.) All these thoughts fly through my brain when it just seems like I can't get myself to be heard, let alone seen.

OK, now I'm getting a little whiny. Sorry about that - not my intention.

I often hear the advice that you should take a close look at your talents and use those talents to help you in life. What do I do with this invisibility talent? I mean, it would be great if I were a spy, but I'm a writer. How do I leverage invisibility when it comes to writing? The whole point of publication is to get noticed so people read your books! Maybe I just should have been a spy. :p

Honestly, though, if anyone has any suggestions on how to utilize this superpower of mine, I'm all ears.

Though I'm guessing maybe one person will read this blog post the whole way through because even though I've been blogging for years, I've never been able to gain a decent following.

And I'm starting to get whiny again. Time to wrap it up!

What's your superpower?

Thursday, February 06, 2020

The Mandalorian, Season 1 - Baby Yoda!

***WARNING: There might be spoilers ahead! So, if you still haven't watched Season 1 of The Mandalorian in its entirety, you may want to wait to read this post. Unless of course you like spoilers (my husband comes to mind - lol). In which case, just keep reading.***

Yes, yes, I know it's The Child and not Baby Yoda, but I'm still going to call that cute, adorable bundle of joy Baby Yoda, so just accept it and move on.

I also know at this point The Mandalorian has been out for a while, but hopefully that means those with Disney+ have already had the chance to watch it. If you've been intending to watch it and haven't, I highly recommend you stop waiting and just do it already!

The opinion I'm about to state may cause some opposition. Keep in mind, though I enjoy Star Wars, I'm by and far more heavily a Star Trek fan. So, I'm not an all Star Wars, all the time, fan girl. The original trilogy is fun, even if a bit dated, and I did go see all the re-releases of those in the theaters when I was in high school (great, now I feel horribly old - lol). But I've never seen all of Episode III, only bits and pieces (Episodes I and II kind of soured me on that trilogy arc). Plus I didn't run out to theaters to see Episode IX, either, though we had done so for Episodes VII and VIII. I'll see it eventually. I mean, we do have Disney+.

I know, blasphemous. I'm not a diehard Star Wars fan. Though I am looking forward to exploring Galaxy's Edge at Disney World later this year. It seems wonderfully immersive!

And that's honestly how I felt about The Mandalorian. It immersed me in the Star Wars world. Here's the opinion that some may not agree with: I feel The Mandalorian is currently the best Star Wars that has appeared on the screen (not bringing books into this - never read any). I also haven't watched any of the animated series, so I'll keep that statement to live action for now.

Yes, better than the original trilogy. And now all those super Star Wars fans are going to throw rotten tomatoes at me... or whatever rotten fruit is part of the Star Wars universe.

At least hear me out, for a bit, whether you happen to agree, but especially if you disagree.

Now, I know a lot of people complained that The Mandalorian started out too slowly. I honestly disagree with that opinion. Since this is a TV series, there was ample time to build Mando's character and to show us the state of the universe when the series takes place. This has led to a very well-rounded main character. That first episode was the beginning. Movies have to move a lot quicker with their beginnings because they have less time to squeeze everything in.

In that first episode, we see his life as a bounty hunter, we see how what's left of Mandalorian society works. And then right at the end, we get the big hook. And what a hook it was! I applaud Disney for successfully keeping that one under wraps. Amazing.

I don't want this post getting too long, so I'll briefly list a few other things I enjoyed about the series.

Touching on Mando's character again, I loved seeing the other side of the hardened bounty hunter. The Child was a foundling, just like he was, and that connection drove him to save the poor, innocent thing. I'm just amazed at how well his character was built in this first season, and most of it without seeing his facial expressions - that can be a tall order!

Using animatronics was also a great decision. That Baby Yoda puppet still has so much expression and reveals so much with its actions. It reminds me of Gizmo from Gremlins, who was also darn adorable. I think it would have lost something if Baby Yoda was simply all CGI.

Cara Dune rocks! I need more of her. Casting was spot on, too.

The Armorer = the bomb. My husband was like, oh she's going to die now, when the stormtroopers attacked her. I was nervous she would because that's the typical expected outcome of such a scene (many movies and TV shows can be horribly predictable with lots of cliches and stereotypes). Instead, she kicked their asses! Which not only shows that even female Mandalorians are super fierce, but it left things open to have her show up in future episodes. I'm super stoked about that possibility.

Finally, I loved the humor that was peppered throughout the season. Though we have a serious and dramatic story going on, there were moments that weren't afraid to lighten that heavy load. And moments that weren't afraid to poke fun at some of the ongoing Star Wars jokes, like how stormtroopers can't aim or the Jar Jar Binks callback.

I offer the heartiest round of applause to Jon Favreau for creating this series (who, by the way, plays one of the Mandalorians, too) - his vision was clearly strong and was executed well. I can't wait for Season 2 of this amazing and well-crafted story.

OK, now all those who disagree with me are welcome to tear me to shreds. I can take it. I mean, I know my opinion is only one, and you know what they say about opinions...

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

2020 - Keep On Rollin'

Are we really over a week into 2020 already? This whole time flying thing needs to stop.

Well, Happy New Year!

As always, I've written up a yearly plan for myself. I don't always expect to hit all the goals I plan out, but I've gotten much better at being more realistic with them depending on the time I have available.

So shall we see how much I get through on my list for this year? I've already written 4800 words - that's a good start!

2020 Mantras

❦ Just Write.

❦ Finish Them!

❦ Focus.

❦ Embrace My Process.

Yes, a little repetition in there from last year, and I'm putting determination under the umbrella of focus for now.

2020 Upcoming Publications

Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) - Spring 2020

❦ Fortunes of Fate Collection #1 (to include titles 1-6) - Fall 2020

2020 Writing Goals

❦ Draft 22k of Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Yes, I'm continuing this, so there will be some new chapters available soon. If you want to see the chapters earlier, please subscribe to my Author Newsletter. Otherwise, starting in May or June, I'll post one chapter every other month on Born to Write and Wattpad.

❦ Revise and Edit Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) - Mind you, this will be novella length. Solis's and Resz's stories needed a bit more room to unfold than expected.

❦ Revise Dead As Dreams - This is a novel I hope to publish in 2021, currently not tied to any series (though I do have thoughts for sequels, but I won't be exploring those ideas at this time).

❦ Draft Fortunes of Fate, 8 - Right now, the Tarot card and title are unknown. I'm sure I'll think of something soon enough, though, and then the characters will keep bugging me until it's their turn - lol.

❦ Draft Downward Spiral (Urban Unicorn, 1) - After wrapping up all that's listed above, I'm finally going to focus on this series. I just feel like I need to complete a few other tasks before I can devote most of my time to the Urban Unicorn novels.

❦ 1 Author Newsletter per month.

❦ Sporadic blog posts, but at least one per month unless life explodes on me.

❦ Keep writing consistently when the kids are in school.

I do have extra projects in mind if I happen to hit these goals out of the park, plus I have some notes to myself about social media and marketing. This year I won't bore everyone with the boring things like making sure my beta reading and developmental editing work for Haunted Unicorn Publishing doesn't take over my writing time. Hm, I guess I did just mention it now. Oops.

The 5-Year Plan is still too scary to think about. Actually, I may never want to consider drawing one up ever again. Plans work much better in smaller bites for me. Even a year is pushing it at times. Life changes too much, no matter if both kids are in school full-time or not.

What are your goals for the year? Or are you best at only planning weekly or monthly? Feel free to share any of your goals below, and if they're writing goals, please join us over at Writing Quest!