Forsaken Realm – Chapter 1

1. Seagate Palace

Forsaken Realm - Available on 3/24/17! Pre-orders available in early March.
Forsaken Realm – Available on 3/24/17! Pre-orders available in early March.

If Meg had known the significance of this one act and how it would change her life and possibly the lives of everyone on Adonia, maybe she would have had second thoughts. Instead she only thought of the reward: enough gold to not only retire and disappear, but to live like a queen for the rest of her days.

And that was just her half.

‘Are you in?’ Jamine asked, using her mind. Mind speak was not common but Meg and Jamine had been able to share their thoughts all their lives.

Meg smiled and considered not responding, just to see how panicked her sister would become. Continue reading “Forsaken Realm – Chapter 1”

Fosaken Realm – Prologue

Prologue: Washed Away

Forsaken Realm - Available on 3/24/17! Pre-orders available in early March.
Forsaken Realm – Available on 3/24/17! Pre-orders available in early March.

Blood and rain dripped from the wagon onto the cobbled street of the busy market district of Kerjeel. A crowd made up of neighbors and other bystanders flanked two young girls in mourning. Jamine was crying.

Meg was too numb to cry as she stared at the sheet-draped shapes laying in the back of the wagon. Mr. Horak, their landlord, was telling the whole story to one of the city guards.

Mr. Horak paid no mind to the rain soaking his head.“Warreb worked in the slaughterhouse. His wife, Salora, helped the missus in the shop at times.”

Continue reading “Fosaken Realm – Prologue”

In Which Rick and I Begin to Understand George

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.” ― Ernest Hemingway

So, a funny thing happened on the way to publication. We had a little crisis. These things happen in beta development, I’m told.

The book was sooooo long. Personally, I like long books. And Rick’s style is epic, which you might have noticed, invites books of Biblical proportions. But his epic fantasy is very action-adventury. Lots of things going on, lots of cliffhangers, lots of activity. Action-adventure stories aren’t generally super long books. We don’t want people getting “readers’ fatigue” (or something real which I don’t know the name of) and maybe get tired of the story. We want excitement! Joy! Anticipation!

We pondered what might be done. And Rick had an idea. What if we split the book in half, he asked. I opened my mouth to object that this was a crazy idea, and just closed my mouth. The idea was not crazy. It would require reworking a skirmish already there into a battle worthy of the end of a book. Some reworking of the next chapter so that it could serve as the beginning of a new book. It could work. It would (probably) shorten it to between 250 – 300 pages. Felt pretty good.

So we split it. And like magic (ha!), one book turns into two.  Which is kind of hilarious, since this book was split off from the original “first” one already. Perhaps we have discovered book mitosis.

Because of all this creative reworking, we will have to put off the publication date. We need to get this new improved part finished and polished and smooth, and make sure it fits with everything else. We need another round of editing. Some beta readers who haven’t gotten around to it yet. You’ll get the updated version shortly soon eventually I just don’t know. Let’s play it loose, OK? See what happens. And once it’s out, really out, we reserve the right to put out an updated version if there are errors with spelling or grammar, but we promise not to Lucas it.

We’re new at this; please be nice. What am I saying. You are always nice, and you smell good.

Remember, beta readers make better Christmas cookies,

Cathy

how they did that
… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… are you still reading this?… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… so, why are you still reading?… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… are you really that hard up for entertainment?… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… well, have fun with it, then … this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because… this is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friends! Some writer started writing it, not knowing what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because…
tl;dr: feels like we’re never going to finish

I Don’t Know How to Dress

Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?  – Derek Zoolander

Here’s today’s confession: I’m super confused about what I should be wearing. I know: wear what you like, and I do that. But it’s out of inertia more than anything. Left to my own, I still dress like I did in college: jeans, tshirts and black and white sneakers. I kid you not. I still have some of the same tshirts. In the summer, I trade the sneakers for the $1 flipflops from Old Navy (I have them in several colors, because, hey, they’re a dollar), and for work I have fancy beaded flipflop “sandals.” If I am feeling particularly posh I might throw on a colorful glass bead necklace. I like it, I’m comfortable.

I look around and this is not typical for women in their 50s who work downtown. But I don’t want to wear the things the other middle aged ladies wear. It’s fine for them but I am not into it. I hate polyester and shiny shoes that clack-clack across the floor and business suits and big belts. I don’t want to color my hair or get it cut short and have to style it every day. Ick. Don’t make me stand in front of the mirror, wresting with a curling iron. Life is too short and anyway I’ll hurt myself.

Don’t want to dress like the kids, either. Leggings? No. Just… no. Sorry but I would rather not look like I lost my mind. No offense meant, ladies in stretchy leggings. But seriously. Perhaps a visual from way, way back:

leggings - bad idea
Now tell me, honestly, where do your eyes go? Hmm? PUT SOME PANTS ON. Sorry. I’m not the boss of you but I hold to the hope that someday, this lunacy will pass and then please, please, may the fashion disappear for another 500 years.

This has gone to a dark place. Let’s move on.

My daughter knows how to dress. She is not mad at any fashion and she can put an “outfit” together. I don’t even know what that means. She is kind to me and hands up some of her old clothes. I appreciate it. But she knows what I like to wear and doesn’t challenge me with things that I’d scrunch my nose at and say, “weird.” Or else she doesn’t like me making faces at her clothes. My daughter in law, too, she knows how to dress. Snappy. (When she wears leggings, she does it right.) She even got my son out of his snarky black tshirts. Now when I see him, he looks all cool in khakis and button down shirts or polos. Even my kids show me up.

So, I thought maybe I should, you know, class things up a bit. Figure out what it means to dress my age or something, Get some style. I looked for advice online for middle aged women. All I got was a string of articles that said stop wearing all the sexy stuff, no one wants to see your tired old skin. Which is insulting and I’m pretty sure my husband’s still interested even when I keep saying I’m tired, even my skin is tired, and anyway I don’t think anyone needs to dress like that. It’s distracting. People could get hurt. Put the girls away when you are in public. It’s just good manners.

I looked online to find more like this great caftan silky thing I love. A coworker brought it to me from Thailand. That’s nice, right? I get compliments when I wear it and it makes me feel kind of fancy and grown up. I found something very much like it under “casual lounge/beach wear”. Insults again; the internet is full of insults.

Rich people have personal shoppers. Do me a favor and buy ten copies of our books, so I can be rich and have someone pick out appropriate clothing for me. Believe me, it’s the only way.

Remember, readers walk off Thanksgiving dinner faster,

Cathy

Theft of Swords – a comparison review

So in general I read a lot of fantasy. Over my lifetime, I’d estimate that I’ve read a thousand fantasy books, maybe?
Rick, dear C.R. Francis of Epic Writer fame (not yet), writes epic adventure fantasy. What does that mean?
Epic – the story is not based in reality, like Jim Butcher’s Dresdon series, where a wizard solves crime in Chicago. That’s urban fantasy. Epic fantasy is set in Middle Earth or Earthsea or Elan. Or even places that don’t start with E.
Adventure – the fantasy equivalent of lots of fistfights, gunfights and exploding cars. Action, action, action.
Fantasy – there’s magic. It has some sort of internal consistency, but you could never make it work here in Portland.
Now we’ve got our terms straight, I can tell you that I’ve read a bunch of epic adventure fantasy recently to see where C.R. Francis’ work fits on the spectrum.  Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations is the closest I’ve found, so let’s start there.
Theft of Swords is the first book Michael J. Sullivan wrote in the series. It starts with a beautifully written scene where you are introduced to two guys: a tall sword master and a short sullen thief. They are best buds and they are DANGEROUS. But then they get conned into doing something they normally wouldn’t do. They are offered a lot of money to pull a simple job, but they have to do it right away. No time to prepare, check facts or generally make sure they will be safe.
They quibble about taking the job. The big guy (Hadrian Blackwater) is sorely tempted, because winter is coming (Ha! Fantasy joke!) and the money would get them through the cold weather in style, and also, he seems to be a nice guy who is pretty willing to trust people.  The other (Royce Melborn) is a lot more skeptical, but he goes along anyway.
I spent most of the rest of the book trying to decide if they had so stupidly taken the job because they have great confidence in their ability to get out of any situation, or if Mr. Sullivan just really needed them to get into the story, so he put blinders on them and pushed them in.
These two guys are in way over their heads throughout the book, but they take it all in stride. They don’t freak out, they don’t complain, they just competently deal. And of course they eventually come out the other side. They’re fun; you wish you could be like that. Well, I do. You already are like that, I know.
There’s a scene I really love, where a stonemason creates a trap that Royce has to escape, and the whole thing, from setup to the end, just delighted me. It was devious, and the thief had to be more devious. Great fun!
If you buy the book now, it is bundled into one volume with Avempartha, which is the second story in the series. It has a lot of the same characters, but it has a really different feel than the first. Instead of being a book about politics and intrigue and ancient mysteries and who’s backstabbing whom, it’s about an ancient monster that wants to kill everybody. Fair enough, I like monsters.
I liked Theft of Swords a lot. It’s well written and if it sounds intriguing and you somehow haven’t read it yet, I recommend it.
Now for the comparison. Let’s see, how shall I do this? Let’s go Old School for reals.

Comparing and contrasting Theft of Swords from Riyria Revelations to Forsaken Realm from The Summoner’s War

Things that are similar:
– Two main characters, who care about each other – though in The Summoner’s War series, they are two sisters, a thief and a wizard.
– Intrigue and larger mysteries the heroes stumble into.
– Lots of action. C.R. Francis’ writing makes use of cliffhangers a lot more. He just looooves to throw those guys over a cliff. (Literally. You’ll see.) But Mr. Sullivan has his share of hanging over certain depths, too.
– A breezy sort of tone. Both books are serious, but both have characters who don’t take their heroism too seriously and might be found bickering when things go sideways.
Things that are different:
– There’s a lot more dialogue in Forsaken Realm. They’re girls, they talk. Actually, Rick talks, but he is pretending the girls are doing it. ; )
– As mentioned, more cliffhangers. Rick has ADHD, so nonstop action means nonstop action. I haven’t counted, but I think eight to ten chapters of the first book end in a cliffhanger.
– More epic, in the sense of a giant overarching story unfolding. Rick has a twisty, twisty mind, and some of the stuff set up in part one (Forsaken Realm) won’t have a payoff for five or six more books. Seriously. I love that sort of stuff, and he’s got it all figured out, so it won’t be like Lost, where the final payoff was bitterness and pain. This will be E. P. I. C.
– More Young Adult/coming of age. The guys in the Riyria Revelations are grown up. You learn about them as you read, but they don’t really change. Meg and Jamine in The Summoner’s War are young, and they are going to learn a lot of stuff. They will be changed by what happens. You will go on that journey with them.

That’s it. Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. You are a star! Have a random picture:

rock into mordor

Read More Books, You Cheapskate

No two persons ever read the same book.  – Edmund Wilson

I’ve been exploring options for how to get the word out about our upcoming books, and came across a site I thought you might find useful: BookBub!

BookBub is a subscription service that will send you an email filled with cheap and free books to read, in whatever genres you like, every single day. They are careful about curating their list, so though you may not like a particular book, you can be sure that the books that are advertised are of decent quality, even if they are free or only $0.99.

That’s all for today. Carry on!

Random picture of the week:

009MonetBrook
This picture came from: http://www.josephholmes.com/

Happy Pumpkins!

I only wish I could carve like this:

cat pumpkin

Love the Company, Forget the Misery

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.  – Jack London

You want to write a book. Of course you do. Everyone wants to write a book. You’ve thought about it. You have the bones of a plot laid out, some characters, a few situations already mapped. And I can tell you right now that it’ a good idea, because you are an intelligent and interesting person and you have things to say. I can also tell you why you haven’t done it yet: it’s freaking hard. While you are surfing Netflix, tired at the end of the day, this is Rick.

Rick work at night-cropped
And this is me, getting in editing time on the train in to work.

Cat on train working
Sorry about the pictures. I never said I was a photographer. I am not a liar.
You, who have not yet written your book, are the sensible one. The picture we have of writing is false. You know the one: the author, sitting down in the morning with a nice hot cup of stuff in a clean house with nothing else on his or her mind, satisfied, rested, ready to pour out that fabulous story. Ha! Writers write after work, at lunch, on breaks. Writers ignore the dirty dishes, the laundry, the fact that the living room hasn’t been vacuumed in a month and whatever it is that is stinking up the refrigerator. Writers get up at four a.m. (I’ve heard) because it’s the only time they can find. Writers are still sitting at the keyboard long after everyone else has gone to bed (now, that’s us). Writers will try to write just about anywhere, exploiting whatever unclaimed time pops up. While you are resting, appropriately, after your long labors, the writer is getting on with it.
Why? Don’t really know. Why does anyone get obsessed with anything? Maybe the Muse really does just grab some people and never let go.
So next time you cuddle up to a new book, feel free to think about the author more realistically. Unless he’s George R.R. Martin, your book’s writer, even well known writers (like Tolkien!), stole all the time he or she could out of a normally full life to get it to you.
…Just don’t feel sorry for the idiot. That person made a choice and if you’re reading the book and the writer is among the living, he or she is absolutely delighted and is already doing it again.

PS: Happy NaNoWriMo!

Random Picture of the Week

go alex go

In the Beginning

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading. – Logan Pearsall Smith

Way back in the mists of the Before Time, when a telephone was attached to the wall with a wire and had a real bell inside, before the tubes of the internet, before TiVo or Netflix or personal computers, we were young.

The men in my family have all had to be pursued by the women they married. My mom, being a traditionalist, got pregnant. My sister-in-law, if I have the story right, used her iron determination and played D&D with a bunch of dorky college guys because one of them was my brother. And my daughter-in-law pretended an interest in working on greasy muscle cars (which is hilarious) to try to get through to my clueless son. Rick did not get this memo, and pursued me hard.

Rick and I had been friends a while and he was trying to figure out how to get me to go out with him for reals, not just hang out as friends. (My little tablet has trouble keeping up with my typing and put “fries” in there instead of “friends.” I almost left it, because it is funny, but then you’d be confused. And since it’s not funny to explain a joke, it’s still not funny, except to me.)

So anyway, we were fries. (Still funny) Just to be clear here, I am a geek, a dork AND a nerd. And, as you shall see, an idiot. My geek interests were pretty obvious. I had a respectably large collection of cheap science fiction paperbacks. Also, one of my prized possessions was this big print of a fairy on a unicorn with a rainbow-y background. I bought her straight from the artist. On layaway, because I could not afford fifty dollars. So it was clear to Rick that if he wanted to impress me he could either become some kind of scientist (seriously implausible) or write a geeky book.

I was so stupid, you guys. I thought he really wanted to write a book. This is because nineteen year old girls have less sense than a concussed duckling (FACT). Please reference the fairy picture story above. Even the artist was surprised that I wanted to buy it so bad. (“Really? You want this one?” I am not making this up.)

And so Rick wrote a fantasy book, by hand on notebook paper. As often as he could, every night if he could manage it, he showed me what he’d written so far and we’d talk about the story, what to do next, what to fix. It was about this group of guys who found themselves actually in the D&D game they’d been playing. Hey, at the time it was a pretty original idea. He had bad handwriting, so he had to sit close to help me read it…

Once he finished the story, and he did finish it, all the way to “The End,” he set it aside. Never looked at it again. It had reached its audience and he was content. We still have that book in its old blue denim binder.

Pretty unique, don’t you think, to woo a girl by writing a book?

PS: He says he really DID want to write a book. Excuse me. Do I look nineteen to you?

Remember, readers make better partners,
Cathy

Random Picture of the Week:

I'm a rabbit“I’M A RABBIT”

Where Is Geordi LaForge When You Need Him?

Yes, I love technology
But not as much as you, you see
But I still love technology
Always and forever
– Kip’s Wedding Song (Napoleon Dynamite)

My laptop is unreliable. The sound is cutting out intermittently. This is super frustrating when I am trying to watch SciShow on the YouTubes. We’ve tried about a hundred things to correct the problem, and as Mr. Edison might say, we’ve discovered about a hundred ways how not to fix the sound on the laptop. Let’s just say we’re, um, zeroing in on the problem.

At work, we’ve made the changeover to Windows 365 and got a new server at the same time. Every one of our desktop machines has had some sort of issue. I started to feel really bad about the fifth time I went to my IT friend to say, “Um, sorry, but my computer, she is not working again…” It got fixed quickly and with a good attitude every time. While I was sitting around waiting, though, it got me thinking about our reliance on technology, and how it’s grown.

On the Enterprise (pick one, nerd – Wait. I’m the nerd. Sorry, got confused), it’s clear that the crew fly around in a giant computer. The presumably huge engineering team works every day to keep the entire thing humming along. Compare that to Firefly. The ship has a computer, but it is not a needy whining mess about to break down if you look at it wrong. Serenity gets treated more like a car, pretty much exactly like a car, and there’s one sweet, grease covered mechanic who deals with the engine, and she seems to have a lot of free time. It’s like the ship is just a big space Winnebago (Spaceballs reference woooo!). Only real problem is they need a compression coil real bad, Cap’n.

If my life is any indication, and why shouldn’t it be, I’m afraid the Enterprise view is more realistic. If you are going to live dependent on a computer, you are going to spend a lot of time and energy to maintain it. Or else, despite the banged together look of the ship, the firefly is by far the superior technology, able to maintain oxygen, air pressure, temperature, humidity, water treatment, gravity, engine cooling, hull pressure, and on and on without human attention for a very long time.

Though I’d like to think Scotty, Geordi, Kaylee, and Keiko’s husband, what’s his name, (I’m kidding. I’d never forget Miles Edward O’Brian) would thoroughly enjoy having a beer together, sharing stories of engine foulups. Throw Chewie in there, too, just for fun.

All this space talk reminds me: check out www.howmanypeopleareinspacerightnow.com.  It will always tell you.  Scroll down, and you can see who they are.  There are no secrets in space. Or maybe there are. How would I know?

Speaking of websites that answer important questions, I also really like www.isitchristmas.com. I check it periodically, just to be sure. I mean, I’d hate to miss Christmas.

PS: We plugged an external speaker into my laptop. Problem sidestepped. Back to writing and stuff.

Remember, readers make better DIYers!

Random picture of the day

Scotty-talks-to-the-PC