Quote of the Moment

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2021, Way Better Than Last Year

Can we say yay that 2021 was superior to 2020? Yay!

I mean, there were still plenty of bumps, but I actually made progress with my writing, including three publications. That's a big win for me.

This post is a bit earlier than usual, but unless I get the motivation to add more words to Magic Morsel before the end of the year, I'm calling myself done. Decompression break to prepare for a productive 2022. Yes? Yes.

Here we go with the data for 2021!

2021 Publications

Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7)

Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies (Fractured Fairies, 4)

Dawn of Fate (Fortunes of Fate 1-6 - Collection)

After nothing released in 2020, these three publications feel amazing. If you haven't grabbed a copy of one yet that you've had your eye on, treat yourself for the holidays!

2021 Progress

So, how exactly did I fare with the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year? If you'd like a reminder of what I had planned, wander on over to 2021 - This Year Has To Be Better.

❦ Completed revisions and edits of Well of Solitude.

❦ Completed revisions and edits of Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies.

❦ Completed drafting Nymphs Need Love Too (Fractured Fairies, 5).

❦ I only added 1,884 words to Gemini's Echo (Zodiac Aegis, 1)... BUT...

❦ Due to the announcement of Kindle Vella, I started drafting Magic Morsel. I've currently written 27,037 words on that project!

❦ No blog posts in August, but at least one all other months. And the newsletters went out as needed (I've decided December isn't the best newsletter time unless I have a holiday related title releasing).

❦ The Year of Cats kind of evaporated on Instagram. I'm still posting pictures there occasionally, though. Social media can be such a time sink!

Now for the nitty gritty. The big, overarching numbers for the year. You know, what I love. XD

❦ I drafted a total of 39,232 words.

❦ I revised a total of 17,934 words.

❦ I edited a total of 71,033 words.

❦ 104.75 hours spent writing, revising, and editing.

❦ 42.08 hours creating cover art and dealing with other publication tasks.

❦ And finally, 222.08 total hours on writing and writing related tasks (per usual, up to the time of this post, and this excludes reading as well as any Haunted Unicorn Publishing work).

Wow, I hit most of my goals. How'd that happen? I mean, Magic Morsel ousted Gemini's Echo, but I wrote almost 29k words between the two projects. That puts me at 13k short of my word count goal for Echo. With some ups and downs throughout the year, that's damned good for me. And a million leagues better than 2020.

I've already planned 2022, so watch for that post in the first week of January. Even years seem to be a thorn in my paw, but I'm determined to break that cycle. But more about that in the next post.

Happy holidays, all, and try to enjoy the rest of your 2021 before it disappears!

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

NaNo 2021 - Final Wrap-Up

Where exactly did the month of November go? Well, it's gone. That's for sure - lol.

My kids failed as spectacularly as I did. Maybe if I had pushed myself more, they would have as well. But as usual, November ended up being such a rough time to write. Between planning holiday gifts, Thanksgiving, and some family issues to deal with this year, the second half of the month blew up in my face.

I did add 6495 words to Magic Morsel, so I exceeded 2020's total. And hey, I have episodes scheduled for that on Kindle Vella through the end of the year now. ;) Any progress is good progress, yes? Yes.

My 25k goal was still overly ambitious, though. That goal changed the first week, as I felt burned out after three days straight of writing. I think next year I'd rather take a look at my monthly word count average, and then aim to up it slightly for November. Now, if I remember that, all the better. In all likelihood, I'll want to try to torture myself yet again with an insane goal because... NaNo!

It's time to take a look back at how 2021 went and plan for 2022, which will be my next two upcoming blog posts.

I hope all of those who tackled the NaNoWriMo challenge are happy with their accomplishments for November, even if 50k wasn't reached!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021 - Never Give Up

Oh, yes, it's that time of year again. Fall has descended in my area of the U.S. and winter is just around the corner. Halloween and Thanksgiving - holidays to be juggled (Black Friday, too, which is a holiday for some).

Wait, no, that's not right. Right, r...wite, WRITE! That's more like it. It's that time of year where a bunch of crazy writers attempt to write 50,000 words in a month. NaNoWriMo time! (There are some crazy writers who write this and more almost every month of the year - I feel burnout coming on just thinking of that possibility for me.)

So, this is my yearly National Novel Writing Month post. Not sure if you'll see any other updates on Born to Write in November, though I may add some updates to this post if I feel so inclined.

This year, I initially had the intention of aiming for the 50,000, since I've never hit 50,000 in a month (not just during NaNo). Then I made a schedule for myself and realized how unrealistic aiming for 50,000 was at this time. I think if I go for 50,000, between the holidays and kids, I'd burn myself out for all of 2022, and I don't want to do that.

25,000 sounds way more doable, and a goal I've aimed for many NaNos in the past, though I also never reached it. My best NaNo year was 2015 when I hit 20,214 words. Even if I simply eclipse that by a handful of words, I'll be happy. As I've said before, NaNo is a way for me to challenge myself and push my limits. But there's a fine line between pushing limits and being completely unrealistic.

Of course I'll be a NaNo Rebel this year in more than word count. I'm planning to add onto Magic Morsel so I can at least finish the current "arc" of the episodes and have enough to publish one episode every Friday through the rest of the year on Kindle Vella. And I've also been chomping at the bit to get back to Gemini's Echo. Therefore, those are the two titles I'll be adding words to come November 1.

I'm going to try the NaNo Bites thing again. Here's hoping it imbeds nicely into this post, but if not, here's a direct link: NaNo Bites 2021.

Stickers are fun. XD Here's hoping I can at least get 50 of them - 500 words = 1 NaNo Bite!

Both of my kids want to take part in NaNo this year, too. That'll be extremely interesting for the grade schooler. I'll likely make her older sister help her on the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program website. Oh, and another reason 50,000 seems crazy is because the kids have off the WHOLE week of Thanksgiving week. Oy.

For those undertaking NaNoWriMo this year, good luck and happy writing!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Ch. 29

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 28

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 29

Obsidian paced the length of the room, which lent itself to a lot of spinning around in such a small space. But she couldn't sit still. Not at a time like this.

Bishop sat at the desk and watched her, his glower growing darker by the minute. Eventually, he stood up and blocked her hysterical path. "What did you learn about the Guardians?"

Sid jumped back and squeaked. She preferred the calculating and manipulative Bishop over this side of him. Anger darkened his features too much -- he belonged in the shadows with such looks. Perhaps even lumped in with the treacherous Guardians.

She couldn't blame him, though, not if his tale was true. "Only what Damian already mentioned. He asked his mother about magic, and she seemed to get upset he even uttered the words. I mean, I wasn't there, so for all I know Damian didn't tell me something, but I highly doubt it. I was actually kind of upset he risked asking her anything."

His upper lip curled. "You're hiding something."

He appeared to see through her, or inside her -- either made her damned uncomfortable. And she was technically hiding the whole argument with Damian about her gate back home. But that honestly had nothing to do with whatever the wretched Guardians kept from all of Nect. "Nope."

Bishop leaned toward her. "You know, I have magic of my own. I mostly focused my studies on opening the gate and reading the portal language, but I also picked up a few other tricks." His eyes shifted to slits. "I'm a bit rusty, of course. Not being around people much. Which is why I hadn't tried anything until now. But I can smell the secrets on you."

Smell them? Yikes. "Nothing to do with the Guardians and their deception, I assure you." She inched closer and stared right back into those accusing eyes.

He shrugged and sat back down. "Whatever. But have you considered my talent might help in ferreting out the truth and lies?"

"How rusty are you?" Wait, what was she thinking? Not as though Bishop could sit in on a conversation with the council. "Never mind. I'm guessing this magic of yours requires you to be pretty close. Care to risk reading a council member without getting caught?"

Bishop studied his hands, huffed, and grumbled.

"What was that? Sid's speaking too logically when you're letting your emotions get the best of you?"

He stared at her. "You mean like you did storming in here and freaking out about your roommate?"

"Hey, that was me freaking out with Damian. Not doing what I really wanted to do, which was storm the council room and demand they hand back Ama." And she had actually considered that for a fleeting moment, until she realized just how bad of an idea it was.

"Fair enough." He turned toward the desk and tapped his fingers on the book she'd pulled down from the shelf earlier. "I'd sure love some answers before I go home, though."

Sid sat on the end of the bed, directly across from Bishop. "I'd love answers, too. Possibly even Damian. But uncovering them aren't that easy." Knowing secrets existed and finding out exactly what those secrets were were completely different hurdles. "I'll make you a promise, though. If I find out anything to help Turss in the future, I'll come visit and tell you."

Bishop settled his elbows on his knees and stared at her. "Can't do that if Damian destroys the book."

"I won't let him." He couldn't. So much would be lost. And not just access to her gate back home. Still, there was that other option of hers... "Unless, of course, I come with you. I couldn't keep my promise, then."

He tilted his head, and that looking through her gaze appeared on his face again. "This is about your secret."

"When you're not rusty, can you read minds?" Seriously creepy.

The laugh that rumbled from his throat, paired with the grin that he'd first greeted her with, settled her temporarily. "Thank the All-Seeing Eye, no."

Sid considered asking him about this All-Seeing Eye of his. It sounded religious, and in Nect only the Ancients were worshiped similar to gods. Hearing about another religion would be fascinating.

Damian picked that moment to burst into the room, slamming the door behind him. At first she thought he was angry, but she visibly saw him trembling, palms still pressed to the flat surface of the door. His head hung low and it sounded as if he struggled to breathe.

She leapt off the bed. "What's wrong? What happened to Ama?"

When he finally turned toward her, she was shocked at the redness of his eyes. Had he been crying?

No, she wouldn't ask him that. Admitting something like that would be tough for a Guardian. Right now, he didn't deserve her prodding.

"What in the All-Seeing Eye happened to you?" Of course, she couldn't stop Bishop from being extremely rude.

Sid glanced at him, hoping he witnessed her displeasure. "Damian, sit. Catch your breath."

He wobbled to the bed and sat, pulled out a neatly folded rag from a drawer in his nightstand, took off his glasses, and wiped the lenses.

"Your secrets are burning a hole in my mind. Are you going to tell us, or bathe first?" The other-worlder might have allowed Sid some berth, but he clearly wasn't going to do the same for Damian.

All Damian did was shake his head -- no equally defensive response.

Couldn't Bishop see that whatever happened had the man completely rattled?

"I'm sorry." Damian's voice rasped out when he finally spoke. "I spoke to Councilwoman Liss about Ama, and she claimed the woman had given up and was on her way home. I saw no indication of deception." He paused and rubbed his forehead. "Nothing. I didn't see the lie." The words were so quiet, Sid assumed they were meant for himself.

"And then?" "I stormed back into the council building to... ask about something else, but I heard Liss talking to Bear." He raised a hand, reached out to Sid, then pulled back. "Ama was taken for experimentation. I don't know what it all entails, and she's being kept in some lab, but they intend to keep her drugged until they're sure you're no longer worried about her."

Worse. It was far worse than Sid had imagined. A quick death would have been a kindness. This, though -- pure torture. Before she thought it through, she snatched up Damian's still dangling hand and squeezed, more because she needed the human contact than to console him.

"What aren't you telling us?" Bishop needed to learn some manners. Holding his tongue wasn't in his vocabulary.

Obsidian felt the urge to explain, not that it would help. "Uh, yeah, he's turned on this weird lie detecting magic he has. It's unnerving."

Damian glared at Bishop, his dislike for the other-worlder finally peeking through. "It's personal."

"So what?"

He yanked his hand out of Sid's grasp. "We have other things to worry about besides digging into my personal problems."

"Like sending my ass back through the portal?"

Damian stood and stomped toward Bishop. "I'd love to do nothing more than that. But unlike you seem to think, I do care about more than just the precepts. And we have to find Ama and see if we can help her."

Obsidian gasped. She'd been ready to insist they save Ama after the men had finished their squabbling, and she'd never thought Damian would be the one to suggest it.

He plopped onto the end of the bed. "However, we have to consider the implications of anything we do."

Bishop held up his hands. "Hey, I don't have a dog in this fight. Leave me out of the we."

"Heartless bastard." The man had gone from rescuing her to willingly leaving another to be experimented on.

He almost looked guilty, but only for a brief moment.

"If you help us, you might learn more about the Guardians. Perhaps even something to help your world." Of course, Damian was smart enough to approach it more logically.

"And why do you even want my help? Why not just send me back through the gate and then deal with your Ama problem?" Bishop scoffed. "After all, aren't I more of a liability in a rescue attempt?"

Damian pulled his glasses off again and pinched the bridge of his nose. "The thing is, if we can rescue her, our only escape is through a portal. Yours."

Bishop gawked at the Guardian, then nodded, straight-lipped.

Sid tugged one of the pins out of her hair and examined it. She knew Damian was right. The only way to save Ama, and subsequently themselves, was to step through a portal, where the other Guardians couldn't follow.

Unfortunately, that meant leaving Nect behind. And her goal of opening her own gate to see what was on the other side.

She squeezed the pin until it pierced her palm, the pain bringing tears to her eyes. If she wanted to save Ama, she needed to sacrifice her own obsession.

Damian looked between her face and her hands, lips parted. He was giving up far more than her. Once he stepped through Turmoil, he'd sever his connection to the Guardians -- his family, his entire life was here in the House of Portals. Yes, she'd be leaving her family behind too, but not her beliefs. Damian's currently lay scattered across the ground, trampled on by the secrets the council kept.

Obsidian nodded. "We have to save Ama." No matter the cost.

* * * * *

Chapter 30

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Dawn of Fate (Fortunes of Fate Collection, 1) - Excerpts

Here comes the third release of 2021! This time, I've combined the first six Fortunes of Fate stories into a collection called Dawn of Fate.

Since I've posted excerpts from all six titles in the past, I've included links to those below, instead of offering a new excerpt.

The ebook for Dawn of Fate is only $2.99 (if you bought all six titles separately, it would cost $4.95) and can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, and Smashwords. Or you can check out Books2Read for the full list of retailer options.

Dawn of Fate is also available in paperback on Amazon for $9.95.

Don't forget to leave a review on your preferred retailer or Goodreads once you've finished reading. It's insanely appreciated.

Happy reading!

Dawn of Fate Excerpts

Dreams in Shadow

Love Fades


Void of Intuition

Beguiling Moon

Edge of Sorrow

For every card, there’s a story.

The Fool, Two of Cups, The Magus, The High Priestess, The Moon, and Three of Swords – this collection contains their stories.

Jump into the world of Fate, along with the three world-hopping cat sisters. The first six cards in the Fortunes of Fate series have been drawn. What stories do they tell?

Dreams In Shadow

Tilly decides on a whim that it’s time for an adventure. Unfortunately, her carefree romp in the world of Fate is cut short by the willful Tillnea.

Love Fades

Caradici’s body flickers in and out of existence, threatening to pull her away from the life she's made. She fears Fate beckons to her, that she must return home to save herself, leaving her love behind.


Darney's Tarot cards were scorched by a wretched child who set fire to his card table. Their sobs and screams torment his conscience, but he can't heal them because he has no magic.

Void of Intuition

Cece’s tried to ignore her prophetic dreams all her life – they’ve caused nothing but heartache, starting with the death of her grandmother. But now, she’s dreamt of a lost child.

Beguiling Moon

In a moment of weakness, Erolisi succumbs to her power, feeding her need by drawing life force from her best friend, Aelwyn, and shattering their relationship in the process.

Edge of Sorrow

Jasp’s memory of Yetta spurs him to act. Making no promises, he follows Amber to the weeping women in the woods. But it’s not as simple as freeing them. It never is.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Magic Morsel - Kindle Vella

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged. I blame summer with the kids home! Guess what, though? They're back in school! More time for my writing endeavors.

This should be a quick post. Maybe next time I'll gush over one of the Disney+ Marvel series - lol.

I decided to jump into the deep end with a new project. Yeah, I know, I have tons of other writing projects that need my attention. The thing is, Amazon decided to launch this new publishing platform called Kindle Vella. It specializes in episodic stories, kind of like Wattpad.

Initially, I wasn't going to jump in, but then I had an idea (well, actually, I had the story idea a few months ago, but decided it would fit nicely with serial publication). And then I fiddled around with the art. Isn't it neat? I love it. Which then meant I really needed to just write the damned story.

So, that's what I've been focusing on since the end of June. The first episodes went live in July!

Oh you want me to tell you what it's about and how all this Kindle Vella stuff works? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

A half-elf walks into a bar...

Sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? Lila, the owner of the Magic Morsel, definitely agrees. She's a tech mage who manages the only neutral ground in the Triopolis area, which means she's stuck brokering deals between all kinds of humanoids. Her grandmother taught her well, though, and she's determined to keep Gammy's track record of no major incidents.

Then a half-elf walks into the bar...

That's the blurb for Magic Morsel, and at the time of this post, I have 12 episodes available on Kindle Vella. I'll be adding a new episode every Friday until the story is complete.

The best thing is, you can read the first three episodes for FREE! Once you get through those three, though, you'll need to purchase tokens to unlock further episodes.

If you do decide to give the free episodes a whirl, please give them a like if you enjoyed them. Similar to reviews, every like is helpful.

And... I think that's all I've got. I hope you enjoy Magic Morsel. Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Ch. 28

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 27

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 28

Damian cursed under his breath, wondering what spurred him to do as Obsidian asked.

All he wanted was some sleep, so he could think more clearly. Never had his life been this fraught with so much tension and critical decisions.

As he wove through the gates, the sun slowly dipping behind the main building and casting gruesome shadows throughout the courtyard, he wondered if he just should have confessed to Obsidian's strangeness that first day. One choice, it had all come down to that.

If he had, his life wouldn't be in such an upheaval. The council would have sent Obsidian home, and he would have continued on, oblivious of the wonder of another world and the duplicity of the Guardians.

Did he want that, though? No. The truth in all things. His mother had ground in that precept as he was growing up. Any time he'd been caught even in a little white lie, she'd railed.

And he believed in the core of that precept.

The council's lies needed to be investigated, at the least. But carefully and methodically. Once Bishop was safely back in Turss, and Damian had figured out how to reveal Obsidian's gate without implicating her, he'd work on rooting out the truth, no matter how deep it was buried.

First he had to calm Obsidian's panic. Her insistence that Guardians intended any physical harm to anyone in Nect was preposterous. Every time she'd brought it up, he'd cringed inside. Guardians existed to protect Nect from the dangers of the portals -- he still believed that was true. Protectors don't harm their charges. That would be like a shepherd sacrificing one of its sheep because it kept wandering from the rest of the flock.

Damian entered the council building, turned the corner, and ran straight into Bear. He stumbled backward from the unexpected wall.

"What are you doing here?" The guard sneered and thumbed his nose.

Those below must respect those above. One precept that was grating on Damian's sensibilities. Not only due to the obvious secrets sheltered by the older Guardians, but because of boorish fools like Bear.

This man had taken pleasure in picking on him for years, and he had no idea why. As a matter of fact, the older Guardian had been in charge of Damian's age group for a time, when he was only five or six -- he'd encouraged the other kids to heckle him.

It was impossible to respect someone so cruel. "I'm here to speak to a council member."

Bear chuckled, deep and self-satisfied. "No."

"You have no right to deny me--"

"I have exactly that right. I'm the guard to the council." The large man glanced over his shoulder, as if double-checking that no one hovered behind him to contradict his declaration. "Anyway, as it's the dinner hour, the council has wrapped for the night. You can come back at a proper time tomorrow and see how I feel then."

Damian felt a rumbling start low in his throat. "What exactly is your problem with me? I've suffered your derision since I was little and you were only a few years older than I am now. What is it that makes an adult hate a child so much?"

Bear opened his mouth, then shut it, seemingly unable to reply.

Now he'd done it. All of his properness had been thrown out the window. Obsidian had officially not only scrambled his thoughts, but had impressed on his actions as well.

The older Guardian finally found his senses and stomped up to Damian until he hovered over him like the bough of a tree. An uncomfortably close one. "Listen, you little punk. You'd be furious too if you were passed over for some baby who hadn't even spoken his first word yet. You're their chosen one, their golden child. They've been grooming you since before your mother pushed you out. Not a hair out of place, not a rule broken. They have plans for you. And Guardians like me get shunted to the side because of it."

Plans? Damian's heart skipped beats, his breath stilled, and his throat locked up.

"Is that Guardian Damian?" Councilwoman Liss's voice rose strong and confident from further down the hall. "Bear, please send him into the council chambers. I'd like to have a word with him."

"Of course, Councilwoman Liss." He lowered his voice. "Not a word to her about what I said. Hear me?"

Doing this man a favor wasn't on the top of Damian's list, but it was in his own best interest to keep quiet about what had just been confessed to him. "Loud and clear."

Bear moved to allow Damian to pass, and he did so, eager to leave the jaded man behind. He'd realized the council was keeping secrets, but not that some of those secrets concerned him.

Earlier, everything had paused, but now jitters shook his limbs, and he couldn't get air fast enough. Liss had always made him nervous at the best of times, but now after the last couple days and Bear's declaration, meeting with her terrified him. He would have preferred any other council member.

No option, so he entered the large council chamber. It seemed so small for just two people, half of the gas lamps turned off, dimming the room, making it more foreboding.

Instead of sitting behind the long desk, Liss beckoned to him at the front row of chairs. She sat and clearly expected him to do likewise. Right next to her.

He much preferred the bit of distance with her being behind the desk. No such luck.

So Damian forced his feet forward and mechanically sat down in the seat to the right of the councilwoman. Then he urged the words out. He'd ask about Ama, then escape as quickly as possible. "I'm sorry to disturb you at this time of day, but I'm here to allay my dedicant's nerves."

Liss propped her elbow on the back of her chair and smiled. The gesture appeared strange on her face, fake. Even sinister. Or perhaps that was just his imagination and lack of sleep getting the best of him. "Quite all right. Go ahead."

"Dedicant Obsidian noticed one of her roommates is gone. She's worried about what might have happened to her. I reassured her that she likely just went home, due to having determined she didn't have the gumption to become a Guardian. She was still fretting since her roommate never said goodbye, so I offered to ask a council member what happened to her."

"Hm. Ama?" She leaned forward a little, the smile sliding off her face as if it were a true mask that had been removed. Way too close.

"Yes." He practically had to choke the word out.

Thankfully she shifted back again. "Ah, yes. Nice woman. But unfortunately not a Guardian. The portal script remained elusive to her, and therefore her studies couldn't be continued. While she had some time left, she realized it wasn't enough. Mirim brought Ama before us today, as she'd requested. We dissolved all bonds, and sent her on her way home, as is our wont."

Even though Damian didn't believe Obsidian's accusations, he wanted to be sure things were right for her. So he took a moment to study Liss, searching for deception in her eyes, but only steel gray seriousness met him. Nothing like he'd experienced with his mother, though his familiarity with her made her easier to read.

He couldn't see a hint of anything to convince him to press. If Obsidian remained persistent, he could always talk to Mirim tomorrow. She was his mentor only two years ago, and he'd more likely discern any signs of lying from her.

"Thank you. I'll reassure her that Ama is safely on her way home." Damian stood, ready to rush out, but Liss grabbed his arm. Her touch froze him.

"Please, sit. I have some questions of my own." The weird smile was back, souring his stomach.

Those below must respect those above. Unlike Bear, Liss had never given him a reason to do anything but respect her, so he sat again.

"Aside from this bit of worry, how is your dedicant?"

Damian swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. Did she know about what had happened? Turmoil? Bishop? The portal book that he was suddenly hyper aware of being tucked into the bag slung over his shoulder? "She's doing well. A little frustrated by the number of precepts, but she's determined." Not a single word was a lie. She'd done so well that she already knew how to read the portal language. And oh, was she ever a determined individual.

"Good, good. And how do you feel about her?"

His face heated. Guardians didn't talk much about feelings. The question seemed especially odd coming from a council member. Not to mention it made him uncomfortable to no end. Obsidian had spun him in an emotional tumult since she'd arrived. "Um."

Liss patted his hand, and he wanted to scratch the spot she touched. "Don't worry. I take it as a good sign if you can't put your emotions into words. We thought she'd be a good balance for you."

"Good balance?"

"Yes, she's a bit strong-willed by our calculations, however she has a softer side to her that might smooth out your rough edges. If you know what I mean."

Damian wondered how much they actually knew about Obsidian. Clearly more than he'd assumed -- the poise he'd seen when she stood before the council had been nearly impeccable. Yet they'd realized a couple of her quirks even before pairing her with him.

But smooth his rough edges? Whatever was Liss talking about? A dedicant doesn't affect change on a mentor, but the other way around.

Well, unfortunately she had changed him. Only due to her rashness and determination to break every precept within days of stepping into the House of Portals.

The grin on Liss's face, though, it spoke to so much more. As though she'd expected...

No. They couldn't have planned for that. He swallowed, throat so dry it hurt.

The council hoped Damian would fall for Obsidian. An arranged match.

"Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?" He needed to escape this room. Her stare. Now. "I really should be getting back to Obsidian."

"Of course, of course. Off you go."

Damian didn't wait for any more encouragement. He rose and hustled to the door and practically ran over Bear in his rush to get out of the building.

The fresh air in the courtyard struck him, a welcome balm. He leaned over and rested his hands on his thighs. Thoughts swirled in his head, more questions than sureties.

Was pairing him with Obsidian part of what Bear had mentioned? Did they have his whole life mapped out, determined by their designs?

Had his mother and father even wanted him, or had his birth simply been a mission, a job, for them to create a tool that the council could mold?

That idea snagged on his mind, a sense of dread and loss clinging to him.

Then anger burned behind his eyes, shoving his horror of it all aside. How dare they try to manipulate his life, his choices.

Though if he truly thought about it, that was exactly what every single precept did. But this -- this was meddling on the highest order.

And he couldn't simply let it go. Obsidian had instilled that much in him. He wouldn't just walk away, cowed, willing to give up his autonomy to do as they bid. Nothing against Obsidian, but his life had been too much of a tumult the last couple of days for him to consider her as a future partner.

Perhaps he didn't want to be with anyone. And Obsidian pined for Bishop anyhow -- she'd likely make good on her threat of going back to Turss with him.

Damian stomped back into the building, determined to confront Liss and tell her he didn't appreciate being paired off with someone he barely knew. That he'd choose who and when to spend his life with. He wasn't sure where his declaration would lead him, but he couldn't remain quiet about this.

Before he turned the corner, though, to enter the main circular hallway, Liss's voice fixed his feet to the ground, as if roots had sprung from the floor and wrapped around his shins.

"You're sure Ama is properly situated? Mirim delivered her without problem or protest?"

"Well, there's always protest." Bear chuckled. "Until I dose them."

"Double-check her. Make sure she stays drugged. I don't want any chances on this. We have a dedicant with a heap of determination, if she's unwilling to accept what she's told. Until we're sure the waters are calm, we won't begin the experiments." Councilwoman Liss's voice faded as she spoke -- walking down the hall, away from the entrance. "And ensure there's a guard on duty at all times in the lab."

Damian's heart thudded so hard he thought both Liss and Bear would hear it. He slipped back out the door, as quietly as he could, though even the slightest movement sounded loud to his ears.

Then he sped around the gates through the courtyard until he reached the hill that hid Turmoil. Once safely inside, away from appraising eyes, he fell to his knees and wrapped his head in his arms.

Far too many surprises today. This one the worst.

Obsidian was right. And Damian sobbed, for the loss of his beliefs, the instability of his life, and poor, poor Ama.

* * * * *

Chapter 29

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies (Fractured Fairies, 4) - Excerpt

Yes, another release! I've been looking forward to this one. It's almost too fun sometimes to play around with Grinka's life.

Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies is the fourth published title in my Fractured Fairies series, though you can of course jump in with any story.

Please enjoy the excerpt below. And if you'd like to grab a copy, Bytes Bite is only $0.99 at all major online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, Smashwords, and Books2Read (the last will give you retailer options to choose from).

And if you read the entire story, please consider leaving a review at one of the retailers or on Goodreads. Reviews are awesome and helpful and it's one of the best ways to support an author you like. OK, I'll shut up now. Promise.

Happy reading!

Now, I know how hard it is to succeed as a writer. Most indie authors need to crank out titles on a regular basis to earn any kind of money. So I tucked away a good portion of my tips for advertising over the last few months. I want this to work – no, I need this to work.

The thing is, when I started writing this first novel, it also turned into an outlet for some of my anger. And oh man, do I have a lot of anger. Just ask Syndago. My not-so-giant giant friend is rather sick of replacing light bulbs. Hey, I can’t control my destructive powers well, and the fairies piss me off at least every other second.

Speaking of the fairies... it’s far too quiet in the apartment.

And no, they don’t know what I’ve been up to on the computer. At least I hope not.

Unfortunately, they’ve gotten rather tech savvy lately, somehow getting their grubby hands on a tablet. I’m amazed they haven’t broken it yet. Perpetually drunk, naked fairies are rather clumsy.

I check under my desk, then under my bed, and look out the window for good measure again. Nothing. Maybe Syndago took them to the park. They love to harass the real birds in their pigeon illusions.

The circle continues to spin and spin. What’s a sea nymph got to do to get her noir urban fantasy published? I smash the Enter button a few times, to no avail. Actually, the circle appears to spin slower.

Damned computer. It’s been so twitchy lately. I even checked it several times to make sure the fairies hadn’t poured wine in the vents, though they’d be reluctant to waste their precious booze for such a prank.

Maybe I didn’t kill enough fairies in my novel. Yes, I killed a lot of fairies. So cathartic, especially since I can’t kill them in real life. Trust me, I’ve tried a million times by exploding them into honey-colored bits. They’re as immortal as Syndago and me, sadly.

In my novel, though... burn fairies, burn.

I snicker, and the circle freezes. Then the screen turns black for a second, followed by flashing rainbow colors. “What the–?”

Fairy giggles flitter from my closet.

I wonder if this is what a gnome tripping on unicorn hairs feels like.

As usual, Grinka the sea nymph can’t catch a break. She simply wants to publish her novel. Unfortunately, Tamor and Tamara, the two fairy thorns in her side, mess with her computer. Too bad they’re immortal and can’t meet the same demise as the innumerable fairies in her book.

If that isn’t enough of a plague, Grinka’s sister Raina pops in from the Immortal World, bringing the first immortal virus with her. And now, Grinka is quarantined in her room with the two fairy nitwits.

Will she survive to hit publish, or will the rainbows and fairies win?

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Ch. 27

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 26

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 27

Bishop wallowed.

He didn't know what else to do. His entire life he'd had a purpose, a goal. And now he had nothing.

Once he returned to Turss empty-handed, the magic faction would surely condemn him, likely conscript him into battle. Because he'd failed his mission.

Not only had he failed, but he'd taken a risk by coming here... to Nect. He'd dreamed of a wealth of information and knowledge, enough to aid those in Turss. End the war.

Well, not just an end, but a slaughter -- magic trampling tech. That idea had always made him uncomfortable. But unless one side conquered the other, there'd be no end. There was no possibility for peace and compromise. The conflict had lasted too long.

Maybe he should simply turn himself into the Guardians. Whatever they'd do to him would likely be less dreadful than his people back home.

But then he'd also condemn Damian and Sid. While he still smoldered over the former, he couldn't bring himself to be so cruel to the latter. She had too good of a heart. And the magic that swirled inside of her... he was positive she had no idea, which was why he hadn't asked her about it. No point in mucking things up even more than they already were.

Bishop heaved himself off the bed and tidied the trays and remaining scraps of food. He always felt better when he was active, like when tending to his garden. A task he'd miss, maybe even more than listening to the call of the gate.

Once the room looked less disheveled, he dug out his clothes from where he'd stuffed them in the wardrobe and changed. His t-shirt was so much more comfortable than the button-downed shirt of Damian's.

He noticed the book Sid had pulled off the shelf was still on the chair, and he grabbed it to put it away, but the title on the cover intrigued him. Fairytales of Nect. Not something he'd expect a Guardian to have.

It also fascinated him that the language here was the same as on Turss. A fact that hinted that the people of this world were more connected to those of his than he'd assumed. Not that he'd ever find a text here that spoke of it. Wretched Guardians.

Bishop settled in the chair and cracked open the book. As he read through the stories, each one a fantastical, outlandish tale, something scratched at the back of his mind. It all felt oddly familiar. He'd read Turss fairytales as a child, but these didn't seem to match up. Maybe if he could get his hands on a copy back home he could compare. The familiarity bothered him, as though if he was so close to realizing the link, like when the words in the portal book felt just out of reach after they'd crossed into Nect.

Damian entered, shattering Bishop's concentration. He appeared disheveled and utterly exhausted with black smudges under his eyes. "Good. At least you're still here. I honestly didn't need another surprise to deal with today."

"Why do you have this book of fairytales?" Bishop lifted the text -- he didn't care about the Guardian's problems with too many surprises.

"Why are you asking silly questions?" He sat on the edge of his bed, removed his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. "If you must know. I enjoy them. That was actually one of my favorite books as a child, much to my mother's chagrin."

Bishop caressed the cover. "They seem familiar. I'm not sure how."

"There's bound to be many similarities between our worlds. The Ancients touched every world when they built the gates. I've even been considering that they created a common language that connects us as much as the portals. Well, at least since we ran into you."

"Can I take it with me?" He expected a no, but he still asked. Not only did the stories have meaning to Damian, but it likely broke some precept to take such an item from one world to another.

The Guardian put his glasses back on and stared at the book. "I suppose I can always get another copy. And though I can't help you with the war on Turss, I think I can oblige taking a little bit of Nect home with you."

Bishop pressed the book to his chest. For a moment, he thought Damian might not be as horrible as he'd thought. But then he considered how inconsequential a book of fairytales was compared to what he truly needed. The man claimed he couldn't help, however he might be keeping secrets of his own.

"I need to lie down for a bit. Can I trust you won't kill me in my sleep?" The previous kindness was obliterated by the harsh accusation in his voice.

"I won't touch a hair on your head. I swear on the gate back home to Turss." That didn't mean he wouldn't snatch the leather bag once the man was asleep.

Unfortunately, Damian situated it under himself before laying down.

Bishop sighed. Not that it would have mattered. There was nothing left here for him to do, and he couldn't use the book to get back on his own anyhow. It had taken him years to master the portal language in his world, and though he was sure he could eventually interpret the text here in Nect, it wouldn't be quick enough.

So, he went back to reading the fairytales and striving to figure out why they all seemed so familiar. It was the only distraction he had from thoughts of his future once he returned to Turss.

Obsidian wandered back to her room, the exhaustion tugging her down more and more with each step. Perhaps some sleep would be a good idea. That brief nap in the study room had only exacerbated her tiredness, and she hadn't had a solid night's sleep since before she entered the House of Portals.

She fumbled into her room, yanked off her dedicant robes, and collapsed onto her bed. Only when she rolled over did she realize something was off about Ama's bed.

Sid shot up, now wide awake. The bed was stripped, completely bare. This of course could mean that Ama was laundering her bed linens, but the pillow was gone too, as was Ama's chest that had sat at the end of her bed.

To make sure that the dread rising in her chest wasn't just her tired brain making mountains out of portal hills, she got out of bed and checked the dresser. Empty. Every single drawer.

"No, no, no." Her words sounded like the muttering of a mad woman to her own ears. She sat on her chest, and stared at Ama's bare bed, striving to make sense of things, but her weary mind merely flailed.

Enid entered the room, looked at Sid, then glanced at the bed. "Oh, she must have finally given up and headed home." She made a derisive sound. "I told her years ago she wasn't Guardian material, but she wouldn't listen." A quick up and down appraisal of Obsidian and she shook her head. "You could do with a bit more composure, too, unless you want to end up like her." She humphed, grabbed a washcloth, and left the room.

Rude. But her brain caught up too late to throw back a biting response. "Ama wouldn't leave without saying goodbye."

And that was what broke through her scrambled thoughts. Ama had a month left to untangle the portal script. She'd never indicated she was on the verge of giving up. Her spirits had even seemed high this morning, when she'd assumed Sid was sneaking off with Damian for something other than studying. Sweet, kind Ama wouldn't wake up so damned early to study if she wasn't determined to succeed. And she surely wouldn't decide it was time to go home without saying goodbye.

The Guardians had gotten to her. They'd given up on her. Who knows where they'd taken her and what horrible things they had planned.

Obsidian imagined poor Ama, broken and bloody on the floor. She screeched, hurriedly threw a shirt and breeches on, and rushed out the door.

Once she reached Damian's room she pounded on the door, danced back and forth on her feet, then banged again.

Finally, the door cracked open, a bleary-eyed Damian peering out. "Obsidian? I thought we agreed to get some rest. And why aren't you in your dedicant robes?"

"Let me in. I need to talk to you. Now." She flapped her hands, the jolt of worry infusing a nervous energy in her.

He ushered her in and closed the door behind them. "It's safe to come out, Bishop."

The other-worlder slipped out of the bathroom, took one look at Sid, and cocked his head. "What's wrong?"

Was it that obvious? Of course it was. She was scared to death for the kindest person she'd come across in this den of vipers. "It's Ama."

"Your roommate? The one having problems with the portal script?" Damian rubbed his forehead. He appeared exhausted, and she felt guilty for interrupting his sleep, but this couldn't wait.

Sid nodded, vigorously, hoping to emphasize her upcoming point. "She's gone."

Damian quirked the eyebrow, though it didn't rise all the way this time. "What do you mean gone?"

"I mean her bed is stripped and all of her stuff is missing."

He sighed. "It happens. Not everyone has the wherewithal to succeed as a Guardian. She's likely on her way home."

Infuriating man. "No, she still had a month to decipher the portal language. And she never would have left without..." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Without saying goodbye. I'm sure of it. I think the Guardians have done something much worse to her."

Damian rolled his eyes. "Not this again. I'm telling you, even though I know the council members are keeping secrets, we're not exactly sure what they're hiding, but I assure you it's not something like this."

"Wait. You're positive they're hiding something?" Bishop stepped forward, nostrils flaring. "You never mentioned that."

"Oh, for the love of the Ancients. It's not information you need to know. All I know is that my mother reacted when I asked her about Guardians having magic in the past. It doesn't change the fact that you need to go home."

Bishop glowered at both of them.

"Hey, don't go directing your ire at me." Sid crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm just worried about my friend."

"You've only known her for a couple days." A corner of Damian's mouth twitched.

Sid back-handed his arm. "And she's the kindest person I've met since arriving here. I just want to know what happened."

Damian rubbed his arm, brows drawing together. "Fine. If it will settle your mind, I'll inquire of her whereabouts with the council tomorrow."

"Not tomorrow. Now." Tomorrow might be too late. Even now it might be too late. "If I'm right and they... Please, Damian."

He closed his eyes and nodded. "Now it is. If I can find a council member. They're usually quite busy. Stay here with him." His pointing finger had more anger in it than it ought to. She couldn't tell if it was due to her or Bishop.

"Thank you."

Damian shook his head and left.

Obsidian hoped she was wrong. And yes, even if Damian asked a council member, they could lie through their teeth to him. Hopefully he'd spot it, though, like he had with his mother.

But if she was right. She'd do everything in her power to save Ama -- she was unwilling to leave the sweet woman to a dire fate.

* * * * *

Chapter 28

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Writing Update - May 2021

I felt it was time for a writing update. Though as I started writing this post, I realized I'm behind on posting Chapter 27 of Chains of Nect! Oops. It'll have to wait until next week or June (I'd say the first week of June, but since I'm due for my second vaccine, I may be out for the count that week). May has been a bit of a crazy month. =P

Anyway, I can at least say I'm happy with my progress for the year so far. I feel much better than I did at this time in 2020 as far as my writing goes, though May has been a bit of a bumpy month for motivation.

The best thing for 2021 at this time - I'm ahead of schedule! I know, kind of crazy, isn't it? I always feel perpetually behind most years. I guess I aimed my goals in the sweet spot this time. If you want to peek at my original 2021 plan, here's the link: 2021 - This Year Has To Be Better.

2021 Publications

Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) is out in the world. It felt amazing to finally publish something again.

Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies (Fractured Fairies, 4) is on track to be published in July. Hopefully I'll have a cover reveal next month!

2021 Project Progress

❦ Obviously I finished the revisions and edits for Well of Solitude. Yay!

❦ Revisions on Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies are complete, and edits are scheduled for next month.

❦ The first draft of Nymphs Need Love Too (Fractured Fairies, 5) is complete! It came in around 10k words.

❦ I've already added 1.8k to the first draft of Gemini's Echo (Zodiac Aegis, 1). Here's hoping I exceed the 42k goal on that this year (knock on wood).

❦ I've been blogging at least once per month (sometimes twice), and I'm mostly on top of the newsletters. I've lapsed on posting my Year of Cats pictures on Instagram... I might have to blame video games for forgetting about that one so often - lol.

As you can see, I've had a pretty productive writing year already!

If I happen to finish the first draft of Gemini's Echo early, I'll dive into another one of my projects waiting in the wings. Should it be the Dead As Dreams revision, the Downward Spiral draft, the next Fortunes of Fate draft, or continue Zodiac Aegis with Taurus's Aura? What do you think?

Happy reading and writing, all!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

WandaVision - Walk Across The Bridge With Me

***WARNING: Have you watched WandaVision yet? If not, there are spoilers ahead, so if you don't want to be spoiled, hold off on reading! And what are you waiting for? Get Disney+ and watch WandaVision. If you're an MCU fan, it's a must!***

I'm going to be brief with this post, so no over-analyzing everything! I know, that's super tough since I'm always so long-winded. Let's see what I can do. ;)

First, I have to say that I was thrilled when WandaVision finally aired. Too long of a dry spell for new MCU movies! We'd started re-watching some of the movies at one point because we were craving more Marvel. And overall, for the first Disney+ MCU series, I thought it was great.

I know some people felt the series started off too slowly, but I actually enjoyed that slow build. Just a little bit of weirdness in each episode to pull me along. I mean, if you're an MCU fan and have seen most of the movies, you know something is clearly wrong here when Wanda and Vision are in a sitcom. And magic is the logical answer. I mean, Vision is dead, right? Right? OK, OK, comic fans know better. Is anyone ever really dead?

WandaVision sets up a lot to be explored in future movies and series. Because of that, it's really a bridge series. Yes, it still has a story with a full arc of Wanda dealing with her grief. Honestly, though, it felt more like a vehicle to line things up for things like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness as well as establishing S.W.O.R.D. and Monica Rambeau. That's probably the series' biggest flaw, in my opinion. Not a huge one, by any means.

Along with Wanda, I enjoyed reminiscing over the different style sitcoms. I grew up on sitcoms, too, pretty much, so I recognized so many references. I'm sure I missed some, too!

One of the biggest pluses of this being a TV series instead of a movie is the room to breathe and build the world and characters. It didn't feel like I was being info-dumped on (maybe a little in the "Previously On" episode, but it added so many layers to Wanda, that it's easily forgiven). I'm looking forward to the other series ahead, especially Loki. I think TV series sometimes do better than movies since there's so much more time to explore different paths.

Finally, I love the design of the MCU Scarlet Witch costume! I totally want to be Scarlet Witch for Halloween.

Look, I kept that a bit shorter than usual, didn't I? Lol. I know I didn't delve into much, but I can emphatically say that I enjoyed the series, and I'm looking forward to more Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

If you've watched WandaVision, what do you think? Do you agree it feels like a bridge? Did you love it, hate it, or are you somewhere in between?

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) - Excerpt

Finally, a new release! It feels great to be on schedule (actually, I'm a bit ahead for the year). Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) is now available as an ebook at all major online retailers!

Please remember, as with most of my Fortunes of Fate series, you can jump into whichever story you'd like to first - no need to have read the previous titles. Well of Solitude ended up in the novella range, so at around 70 pages you may want to consider diving into this one since it's over twice as long as my second longest Fate title (that would be Edge of Sorrow).

If you'd like to grab a copy after reading the excerpt below, here are a few links for you: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, Smashwords, and Books2Read (this last one will give you the option of your preferred online retailer).

As always, if you read Well, please consider leaving a review at one of the retailers or on Goodreads. Thank you, and happy reading!

Note: In the excerpt below you'll see Solis referring to Resz as Rez - this is intentional, not a misspelling!

She brushed her fingers along the door. It creaked open, stale air gusting out.

Only the touch of the dead opened this door.

An ache throbbed inside her – the desire to be whole, normal, not suspended between two worlds. She felt it every time she entered the Well.

Solis glanced up the stairs one last time. Rez peered down, but didn’t move to follow.

Right. Into the depths. After she slipped in, the door sealed behind her with a thud.

A tomb, indeed. One with endless labyrinthine passages and an underlying musty odor of death. Home of the souls of Fate, tasked to wander their unlives away in the darkness. Knowledge that saddened her.

She hoped those who believed some spirits chose to be reborn were correct, though she only bore witness to the ones rambling this maze. If there was another way out aside from the door behind her, or a portal to a different world like the cat had claimed, she’d never found it. Hard to search every passage when they were truly endless and she feared getting lost.

Though Solis had ventured further in on many occasions, attempting to memorize and map out routes in her mind, today she refused to. The necromancer had her on edge. She’d lied to him – she was mostly safe, but not completely. Down here, the madness of the spirits knew no bounds. She was less of a target because of her state, and many had accepted her presence as ordinary. Yet there was still an inherent risk, the chance an insane enough shade would attack her, even attack another of its kind.

The Well was a place for spirits to rest... and lose their incorporeal minds.

Except Neggie. He’d remained sane for the seemingly endless years Solis had known him, and he’d implied he’d been a resident of the Well for much longer before that. Tracking time proved difficult in the garden, though, so no telling how long she’d been here – it all felt eternal. And her unique makeup ceased her aging, a type of immortality, so she couldn’t track the years that way.

Solis sighed, not wanting to dwell on her enduring predicament. At least she was able to offer a touch of light to the darkness, for her and the spirits.

She tossed the lily into the air, and it exploded, sundering itself. Five of the glowing petals zipped into the maze, quickly disappearing into the depths to wander through the winding passages. The remaining orb of light bobbed above her, then landed on her shoulder.

It amazed her how deliberate and sentient the petals acted once they disconnected. As if they transformed from flowers to fairies.

Solis lightly patted the petal. It flitted off her shoulder and hovered high above.

“I sense the living in the garden.” Neggie’s voice broke the deathly silence, and he swirled into existence, a hulking brute of a spirit. She’d always been tempted to ask who he’d been in life, but he likely didn’t remember. Memories melted away the longer one was dead. Currently, his form shaped itself into one resembling a human, his typical appearance when he addressed her, though he’d mastered the ability to shift into whatever he wished, like a cloud of smoke with a will.

“Ah, Neggie, I was just about to call for you.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “It’s a necromancer.”

He bent over, his translucent face inches from hers. “Truly?”

“The spirits drew him, and he broke through the enchantments around the island. A determined and stubborn man.” Rude, too, but she figured he wouldn’t care about that.

Neggie billowed upright, his form growing taller. He towered over her – even without a solid form, he was intimidating. “What does he want?”

“To enter the Well.” Odd, he never asked silly questions. Everyone seemed to be doing so today.

“And?” The shadows of eyebrows rose, shimmery in the petal fairy’s glow.

Solis hesitated. Normally, Neggie was more forthcoming, chattier than the other spirits, sometimes more than she cared for. “I thought it best to speak to you.” Her voice cracked, throat suddenly dry.

“Without discovering his intentions? Foolish girl.” His usual patience and kindness had evaporated.

Never. He’d never called her such things before. Girl. She’d left that designation behind years upon years ago.

The kind, yet imposing soul, had transformed into the commanding leader of the spirits he claimed to be. And Solis didn’t like it, not one bit. “He’s a necromancer. You know, someone who can control the dead.” She waved her arms around. “Including me.”

Neggie hummed. “I know what a necromancer is.” He drew closer again, though she wished he hadn’t. She didn’t think it possible for a spirit’s gaze to appear so menacing, so unhinged. “Keep him from entering the Well at any cost. Including your own life.”

Solis stepped back and gasped. “Or?”

“I’ll banish you from the garden forever.” His bulky form swirled into a cyclone and zipped down the nearest passageway, the darkness swallowing him. Booming laughter trailed behind him, and several other spirits cackled in response.

Perhaps Neggie had finally gone mad.

And Solis was left alone to turn Rez away from the island. A necromancer who could manipulate her own soul.

That or risk losing the comfort of her garden – the only place she belonged.

All of a sudden the glowing petal dashed away, and the spirits hushed, returning the maze to stark silence. The Well suddenly felt darker and more threatening than it ever had before.

Solitude. Ward or woe? The answer lies buried in the minds of the mad shades.

Solis embraces her task as Gardener of the Well. Who better to tend to the flora edged in perpetual sunlight – surrounding the tomb of spirits – than someone who is half-dead herself? But when a necromancer arrives on the island, demanding entrance to the Well, her solitude shatters.

Spirits are the only good company, in Resz’s opinion. So when he senses the glut of souls in the Well, compulsion drives him to find them. Unfortunately, a strange woman denies him access. And worse, he’s inexplicably drawn to her, as he’s never been to another living being.

Solis risks control of her own soul to keep Resz out of the Well. Can she convince the necromancer to abandon his quest, or will he pull her strings like a puppet master?

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

1001 Reasons Not To Clean - #56 through #60

Welcome to 1001 Reasons Not to Clean! The main goal of this series is to see if I can actually reach 1001 reasons, 5 reasons at a time (the final post, if I get there, will be 6 reasons). I'm sure I can. It's not just my crazy brain being unrealistic, right? Links to previous posts are below. And feel free to share your excuses, and they might get added to my list (with credit, of course)!

#1 through #5 ~ #6 through #10 ~ #11 through #15 ~ #16 through #20 ~ #21 through #25 ~ #26 through #30 ~ #31 through #35 ~ #36 through #40 ~ #41 through #45 ~ #46 through #50 ~ #51 through #55

56. Anxiety, mostly due to #57. It pretty much freezes you and you can't seem to muster the energy to clean anything or work on the projects you started three months ago. Close your eyes, then you can't see the mess. Better yet, take a nap or do #58.

57. Pandemic. Need I say more? OK, I'll say more anyhow. You're cloistered in your house most of the time for over a year... which makes you want to clean it even less. Not to mention to deal with #56 you're playing an inordinate amount of video games. No time to clean, busy with #58.

58. Genshin Impact! Oh, yes, it's another game. A super fun game with gorgeous scenery and beautiful music that's easy to get lost in. And 2020 made many of us want to get lost in things.

59. The house has become sentient and has decided to fall apart on you in the span of a month. Boiler dies during a cold snap? Yup. Front door steps crumbling to dust? Uh huh. Upstairs toilet overflows and water pours from fixtures into the kitchen below (which was remodeled five years ago)? Argh, yes. Who has the energy to clean if your house hates you?

60. Taking cat pictures and posting them to Instagram is loads more fun. Cats are cute. They make me smile. Don't they make everyone smile? I hope so. Cleaning doesn't make me smile. Why do something that doesn't make you smile?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 26

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.

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Chapter 25

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Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 26

The precepts needed to burn, not Sid's precious portal book, likely the last left of its kind.

She slammed shut the damnable text, the resulting gust of wind tousling loose strands of her hair. Yes, she was supposed to be on her best behavior, to do what was asked of her so she wouldn't be punted out of the House of Portals. Or worse. But what point was there if she couldn't retrieve her book?

Her gate would continue to stand useless, forgotten by all but her.

That couldn't happen -- she had to convince Damian to give it back, or to at least keep it somewhere safe instead of destroying it.

Obsidian rested her head on her copy of the precepts, her mind tumbling. Her thoughts grew hazy and drifted, exhaustion dragging her down.

"The precepts are not a pillow." Damian's sharp tone yanked Sid from her nap like a cold bucket of water.

She sat up and wiped a drop of drool from the corner of her mouth. "I'm sorry. I haven't gotten much sleep lately."

"Guess I can't blame you." He plopped down in the chair across from her, as if standing on his feet was too much of a burden, then rested his elbows on the table and leaned toward her. "You were right."

Sid wiggled in her seat. She'd made a lot of declarations lately, but the one that initially came to mind was the Guardians killing washed out dedicants. "About what?" She squeaked and covered her neck.

Damian shifted, resting on the back of a chair, his frown stretching to all corners of his face and creasing his forehead. "The council is hiding something. They're using the precepts to cover up their secrets."

A shuddering breath escaped her. No doom. "And how did you come to this conclusion?"

"I spoke to my mother, and when I asked her if she'd ever heard of Guardians wielding magic, she nearly cut me with her gaze." He closed his eyes and shook his head. "How could I have been so wrong?"

"More importantly, how could you have been so stupid?" Perfect way for them to discover if she was also right about the dire consequences of crossing the Guardians. "Did you tell her what happened with Turmoil? Bishop?"

That eyebrow of his did its thing. "Of course not. I was careful about what I said. Have some faith in me."

"It's not that I don't, but if a single Guardian discovers what we've been up to, it's certain death." She actually had a heap of faith in him -- more than he'd ever know. After all, he still hadn't presented her to the council with a list of her crimes.

Damian rolled his eyes. "Enough with those ludicrous accusations. Secrets don't make anyone a murderer." He tilted his head. "Besides, a single Guardian does know what we've been up to."

Sid giggled.


"You're not like them." She'd been so wrong about him when they'd first met. True, he clung to the precepts, but it was all he'd known. "You question and dare to have independent thoughts. If you were one of those Guardians that I'm constantly deriding, I'd have been at their mercy the moment I stepped before the council."

He stared at her for a second, then blinked rapidly and found a fascinating spot on the wall.

Obsidian did trust him, which was why it was so hard when he clearly hadn't trusted her. He still might not. There was one way to rectify that. She hoped. "Do you want to know where I got the book?" She whispered, afraid the walls had ears. Who knew what magic the Guardians were hiding?

Damian returned his attention to her, eyes bright. "Where?"

Here it was. The moment she'd never expected to happen, had avoided for years. Confessing to her discovery. "Buried in a box on my family's land." Her insides chilled, as if she walked through a fiery portal. "Underneath the gate I found."

He stood so swiftly, his chair tipped over and clattered on the floor. "What? You couldn't have." He bit his bottom lip and nodded. "Of course. That's why all the gates hadn't affected you the first day. You'd already been near a portal. No. You'd already touched one."

Sid wanted to melt into her chair. She stared at the book of precepts so she wouldn't have to meet his gaze. And she thought she'd felt guilty for kissing Bishop -- nowhere near to the extent as she felt now.

"That's why you wanted to learn the script. But how were you able to open the Turmoil gate if your book was meant for the other gate?"

Her excitement got the best of her and she looked up at him. "The word on the front of the book changed when I was more focused on the new gate. It's as if it shifts depending on which portal you want to use it with. Fascinating magic. Unfortunately, it blurred the script of my gate in my mind, so I don't even remember what it looks like." It felt so good to finally share this with someone. She'd never realized how tormented her soul had been keeping all of this information in.

Damian planted his hands on the table and loomed over her. "It's not your gate. Get that out of your head."

"I know, I just..." Had she made a mistake telling him? A miscalculation?

"I have to tell the council."

Yes, a grave one. "No... But why...?" She tried to find clearer words, but they failed her. Damian planned to betray her, and it cut deeper than any loss she'd experienced before.

He straightened and paced the best he could in the tiny study room. "I can't believe this is what you've been hiding. And you called me stupid? Your actions--"

The chill within blossomed into a flame, and the fire spread rapidly. She stood and slammed her hands on the table. "I thought you realized the Guardians have been lying, to all of Nect, even to you. Your own mother. Yet you're ready to turn me in because of their absurd rules."

Damian skirted around to her side of the table and grabbed her arms. "I may be questioning what I've been taught my entire life, wondering where the truth ends and the lies begin, but there's one thing I'm positive about. The portals aren't safe. And you're proof of that. Have you forgotten the compulsion Turmoil drove you to already? Imagine what could happen to someone else who stumbles upon that gate. How would you feel if a family member found it and went mad?"

Sid had always dreaded one of her brothers discovering it. And now with her here, unable to steer them away from that section of their land, they had more of a chance to do just that.

And though she'd been driven to open Turmoil, she still believed the portals shouldn't be left to rot, mere relics moldering around Nect.

She wiggled out of Damian's grasp. "No matter what happened to me, I don't agree with you. I succumbed to a moment of weakness. That doesn't mean the gates are a danger to everyone in Nect. Just more Guardian lies."

"Obsidian, please see sense."

Sid planted her fists on her hips. "Why should I? Someone I thought was my friend is about to throw me to the wolves. There's no sense in that."

"No, no. I keep telling you we don't harm people, especially ones who find gates." He sighed, brow wrinkling. "But if you're so concerned about that, we'll find a way to tell them about the portal without implicating you or your family. I promise."

"Good luck with that. I mean, the gate's on my family's land."

"It might take time, but we'll figure it out." He appeared seriously pained, but she didn't care -- he planned to rip the one thing away from her that had been her sole goal for the past six years.

She stepped back and crossed her arms over her chest. "Perhaps I should just go back through the portal with Bishop. Then I'll be out of your hair forever and you can tell the Guardians whatever you want."

Until she said it, she hadn't actually considered the possibility of leaving Nect and going to Turss.

Forever. It would truly mean forever. She'd never hug her mother, never see her father smile proudly, and never get heckled by her brothers again.

But she'd live, and Damian would get exactly what he wanted -- he'd be rid of her and allowed to live the rest of his life as oblivious to the Guardians' true intentions as much as he'd like. "Do you really want to do that?" His voice escaped breathy.

Sid raised her chin. "What I want is for you to hand that portal book over and forget I ever told you about my gate. But that's never going to happen. So Turss sounds like a good second option." She couldn't believe what she was saying. Could she really do what she claimed?

The book in Damian's bag beckoned to her. And so did the Turmoil portal, whispering in her ear and begging her to open it once again.

Damian raised his hands in front of him, palms out. "Let's take a break. Cool down a bit. Relax in your room briefly and have dinner. Then perhaps we can talk about all of this more rationally."

So he thought she wasn't being rational?

Yes, Obsidian would go to Turss with Bishop.

Or she'd wrest the book away from Damian, no matter the cost, and flee the House of Portals.

Head home and open her gate. Perfectly rational.

* * * * *

Chapter 27

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

What Am I Reading? - Libriomancer

It's been a while since I talked about what I'm reading. To be honest, I haven't had tons of time to actually read much lately, and when I do it seems to be in fits and spurts. And many times, I don't get to finish what I start. I blame Youngest. You want someone to interrupt you every five seconds? Well, you can borrow her. Even yesterday I stupidly tried to read a chapter while she was awake and home. What do you think, did I finish that chapter? Nope. And I hate stopping mid-chapter!

Anyway, I digress. I've slowly been plodding through Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines. Slowly only because of the aforementioned Youngest (and the exhaustion that overwhelms me most times by the time she's in bed). I was in the mood for urban fantasy, since lately I really can't seem to immerse myself in epic fantasy. Of course I found the premise intriguing, so I decided to try it. Libriomancy is magic that can be used to reach into a book and pull objects out into reality. I mean, what reader and writer wouldn't think that's an awesome idea?

For the most part, I'm enjoying the book, but it's also impossible to turn the writer part of my brain off. So I started thinking about how some urban fantasy can be very dated by what's in it. It's always a rough road if you're trying to not "date" your urban fantasy. I mean, some of my favorites when I try to read them nowadays, I find it odd that there are no cell phones around. Because in this day and age, almost everyone has a smartphone.

This can of course pull the reader out of the story, when the modern conveniences we take for granted aren't utilized. Some books even age rather terribly, and might turn more into historical fantasy - heh. That doesn't make them any less fun than they used to be, but they are definitely perceived in a different way from when they were originally published. Even some of my own urban fantasy stories are dated, and I totally know it.

Libriomancer was first published in 2012, so it's not too dated, at least not by my standards. But I'm guessing it was in the works years before publication, so some things that have been completely left out and not addressed seem odd to me. Here's my caveat - I may only have noticed this due to who I am, an indie author, and one who mostly works with ebooks.

Can you guess yet what I noticed? The protagonist talks about how they catalog all the books released by publishers, and he's pretty much just talking about hard copies. No mention of ebooks (so far), and no mention of indie publication at all.

I indie published my first short story in 2012, and I know that was the initial big surge for indie publishing. So, I could maybe understand why that wasn't addressed. Though self-publishing has been around for far longer than that. Ebooks, though? I wanted to see an explanation. Does libriomancy work with ebooks like with physical books?

I admit, due to my fits and starts while reading, I could have missed a line explaining this, but it seems like it should be touched on more than once. This isn't by any means a criticism. Again, it made me simply think about how books could be dated even after a short time being published (since traditional publishing has a tendency to take quite long from finished product to publication). Technology is evolving at such a rapid rate that it's hard to keep up.

My writer brain was just left with questions that I would love to see explored (this book is also the first in a series, so for all I know, some of this stuff is touched on in later books). How do the Porters (the organization that polices the use of libriomancy for the most part) keep track of all those indie published titles? There are millions of ebooks on Amazon, thousands published every day. This could lead to some major control issues, in my opinion, and a fascinating novel in itself.

And with the availability of ebooks, would this make things easier or harder for the protagonist if he had an ereader instead a bunch of paperbacks he toted around with him? If it's not possible to use libriomancy that way, why not?

These are all just my humble thoughts about how the future in essence effects the reading of past books (even books not even a decade old!). Libriomancer has still been fun to read so far, and Youngest willing, I hope to finish it this month.

What are you currently reading?

Speaking of ebooks in today's day and age, they've been an absolute necessity for me and my family. I mean, I've been out of shelf space in my house for years.

Not only have we ended up getting Kindle Unlimited (Eldest reads like mad, and I couldn't keep up with her), but I've found Overdrive to be so useful this past year, especially with not wanting to physically go to the library.

Most local libraries have access to an Overdrive collection, so you can check ebooks out for free. That's how I'm reading Libriomancer and Youngest has been plowing through the Magic Tree House and Rainbow Magic series (I love my little interrupting chicken, I do - she may not let me read, but at least she's enjoying reading a lot!).

So, if you're looking to stay safe at home and still grab some new books to read, consider looking into Overdrive through your local library. Libraries rock!