ANNOUNCING: DRUGS. And fantasy short story “Rethana’s Tower” COVER ART!!!

Hello and Drugs

Hidey ho, neighborinos!

I am currently in the throes of severe lower back spasms resulting from trying to load my 30-lbs. toddler into her car seat last week. This is not an unusual attempt; generally, I’m used to doing it multiple every day. However, it seems that this one time I was not careful enough. Therefore, I am now under the influence of multiple prescription drugs and waiting for my doctor to call and tell me what she sees on my X-rays. BOOM.

So. Remember the drugs I mentioned? Yeah, I’m taking no responsibility for the content of this post. If you get attacked by invisible zombie spiders and killer watermelon clowns, it’s not my fault.

Umm…why am I here?

Oh yeah. Writing. Publishing. READ MY WORK AND TREMBLE O MORTAL. Also, give me your money.

Cover & Copy, Not To Be Confused with Duck & Cover (*quack*)

But you don’t have to shell out quite yet! First, take a gander at this cramazingness:

RethansTower_CVR_SML

Ha, ha, I said “gander.” *snort*

*ahem* That up there, my friends, is the cover art for my fantasy short story “Rethana’s Tower.” The art and design are by the wonderfully talented and wonderful-to-work-with Steven Novak. I couldn’t be more pleased. And, thanks to my friend Josh Unruh, I’ve got some spiffy copy to go with it:

Before the rumors of war and conscription by vengeful clerics destroyed her idyllic life in Rethana’s Surrender, Rethana Chosardal lived comfortably as a bellringer’s daughter. With dark times far behind her family and the darker times of future unknown to her, Rethana plays with the magical powers that are her birthright.

And like any willful girl with more power than sense, she gets up to mischief.

A nighttime intruder to her bell tower, intent on mischief of his own, has Rethana more than confident she can stop him. Not just stop him, but humiliate him. Like any proper mischief, though, it won’t be easy. After all, dodging her crotchety great-grandmother and nearly falling to her death aren’t exactly her idea of fun.

But without this one night of magical pranks, the events of Rethana’s Surrender and Rethana’s Trial might never have happened. Read the light-hearted tale that started it all during one moonlit, roguish climb up “Rethana’s Tower.”

My target date for publishing this baby is June 30th. I’ve never had to set myself my own publishing date before (remember that the last time I did this, I was still working with an indie publishing company), so I’m a wee bit skittish about this. But also excited! And bounce-off-the-walls-y! And high on meds! WHEEEEEEEE!

Climbing Rethana’s Tower

Erm…so, about this short story. If you go here, you’ll find out all about how Rethana’s universe (aka Legends of the Light-Walkers) came into existence. And if you visit that page and scroll down to “And What’s the Big Idea?” (I wanted to make that a page jump, but I’m too drugged-up to figure out how), you’ll find out how my short story “Rethana’s Tower” got its start.

So click the link and go read about that. Go on. I’ll wait. But you have to promise to come back.

There. Are you back?

Good.

Okay, so, in case you didn’t go read, here’s the short version: Rethana’s story started when I visited St. Annenkirche, a Lutheran church building in Annaberg-Buchholz, Germany. I climbed the belltower, heard the ginormous bell Anna, saw visions, and decided to write a novel (which later became Rethana’s Trial and Rethana’s Surrender).

“Rethana’s Tower” used to be the prologue to that novel. Then, I entered the fabulous, no-holds-barred School of Cutting the Prologue. I cheated and made it Chapter 1. Then, my trusty beta readers told me that it didn’t really fit with the rest of the story, and Chapter 2 would actually make a better Chapter 1.

“Are you hip to the jive? Can you dig what I’m layin’ down? I knew that you could. Slide me some skin, soul brother!”

Points to you if that made sense.

Thus, through many tears, I sliced off the original beginning of Rethana’s story and tucked it away for a better, brighter day.

Folks, that better, brighter day is almost HERE.

Former prologue, former Chapter 1, now full-fledged short story in its own right, “Rethana’s Tower” shall soon be available for your reading pleasure. I’ll let you know the moment you can get your grubby, ink-stained reader-paws on it.

In the meantime, do watch out for the watermelon clowns. They’re tricksy, and they don’t brush their teeth.

New Fantasy Novel Out: Rethana’s Surrender

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

 

When I was 15 years old, I had a dream about a yellow telephone booth.

No, that’s not a Dr. Who reference. ; ) In the dream, I was standing inside the phone booth, holding the handset. (Yes, this was a rotary phone. Let me know if you don’t know what that is. *grin*) Outside, it was dusk, and fog was rolling in. I couldn’t see any farther than about twenty feet from the phone booth. And as I watched, dozens of yellow eyes with slitted black pupils appeared in the fog.

That dream gave birth to the universe in which I set my latest novel, Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1).

What’s the Because?!

If you’ve already read Rethana’s story, you’re probably wondering how in the name of all that’s good and writerly I got from {fog + yellow eyes + relatively modern phone booth} to {epic fantasy universe + magic-wielding heroine + semi-political love triangle}. Well, my dear inklings, that story is a rather long one, and tell you it would take a series of novels in which I invite you to explore this whole universe I have built and am building….

Oh. Wait. I guess that invitation would be what Legends of the Light-Walkers (LLW) is all about. ; )

So, the books themselves are the long explanation. The short version is that the phone booth dream turned into a scene in my LLW novel Legend’s Heir (working title). Chronologically, that one takes place before Rethana’s story. But I finished Legend’s Heir (working title) more than ten years ago…and, perhaps needless to say, it needs quite a bit of work before it sees the light of day. Thus, you get Rethana’s story first. Y’all seem like you’re okay with that, though.

And What’s the Big Idea?

The big idea for Rethana’s story grew from a cold, snowy visit to a small town in eastern Germany back around Christmas of 2002. The husband and I were living in Chemnitz, Saxony, then. Some friends took us to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in a little town called Annaberg-Buchholz.

I could wax nostalgic on how much I miss the German Christmas markets, but that’s not why you dear people are here, and it would make me cry besides, so let’s just skip that part and move on.

Belltower of St. Annenkirche

On that cold, snowy evening so many years ago, our friends insisted that we visit St. Annenkirche (St. Anna’s Church; please note that I’ve linked to the German Wikipedia article because it has more pictures than the English version). Thus, we traipsed up the hill — there was much slipping, sliding, and sniggering — and entered the church building, where we proceeded to get an unexpected tour.

We ended up climbing the belltower.

If you’ve read Rethana’s story, you know where I’m going with this.

Near the top of the tower, we stepped from the wooden staircase onto a wide, circular platform spanning the width of the tower. About thirty feet above our heads was a wooden ceiling. Another staircase led up to it. The tour guide explained that we were looking at the underside of the apartment housing the bellringer and his family. And above that apartment hung the bells.

These people lived in the top of the belltower. They hauled household goods up to their apartment via lifts that had been operational for hundreds of years. They were in charge of the bells, the largest of which was named Anna.

Images flooded my mind. Characters, scenes, plots, dialogue. In my head, I saw a bellringer family in medieval dress, and I knew they were hiding from something. I saw soldiers and magic-users in the town below, and I knew they were hunting this family. I saw a mischievous young girl using her magic to tease her friends, who were sneaking up the tower staircase to play a prank on her.

All of this flashed through my head within the space of about 20 seconds. In the meantime, the tour guide was still talking. I had no idea what he was saying — but the next thing I knew, he was handing out earplugs. I stuffed them into my ears just in time.

Somebody rang Anna.

Anna of St. Annenkirche is a big girl. Even through earplugs, the noise was deafening. Without really thinking about what I was doing, I wandered over to the stone wall of the tower and laid my hand on it. The wall was vibrating with Anna’s song, and I could feel the reverberation all the way up into my shoulder. And I knew what my next story would be.

Writing Rethana’s Surrender

The mischievous bellringer girl became Rethana Chosardal. Anna became the sacriligiously-named Lirrenae. Annaberg turned into Saemnoth. I started writing the story for NaNoWriMo 2003.

It would take me more than 4 years to finish the first draft. By the time I was done, I had close to 230,000 words. I knew very good and well that no publisher would consider reading an unpublished author’s 200+k words, so I spent the second draft trimming. My mom read it. Another beta reader read it. Both made suggestions, and I trimmed some more. When I hit 210,000, I knew I couldn’t do anything more with the story, so I shelved it and moved on to the next project.

By now, I was living in Oklahoma again and had recently re-met Aaron Pogue, a college acquaintance and fellow writer. We fell to talking of fantasy (because really, why wouldn’t we?), and he asked to read my fantasy novel. I let him.

Aaron had feedback. Part of that feedback was that I should split the book in half so as to achieve a manageable word count. The moment he said it, I knew where: right after the fight scene in Terllach Caverns. Right after Rethana almost admits to Allasin that–

Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it. ; )

Aaron said, “That’s a doozy of a cliffhanger. Your readers will hate you for it. Or they might love you.”

Aaron might or might not have actually used the word “doozy.” Either way, I decided to take the risk. And, once he got his indie publishing company, Consortium Books, up and running, he decided to take the risk of publishing it.

So far, so good.

Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1), is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

If you’ve read the novel, you can post your review at those two links as well as at Goodreads.