Flash Fiction – Depopulation

Merry Christmas – and a big welcome to all of my new followers!  In addition to book review blogger interviews and fantasy author guest posts, my blog features once a week (ish) short stories based on characters from my books.  This week’s short story includes Shawn, the antagonist of The Akasha Series, as a younger boy.  I try to keep the short stories at flash fiction length (1,000 words or less).  Please feel free to comment or e-mail me directly – I could always use the feedback

At first, they had been plentiful.  Tiny specks of concentrated energy – each one of them so dense they could be seen with the naked eye, like specks of dust visible in the sun’s rays.  Shawn collected them, willing them to group together, building a wall around the old man standing across from him.  But now they were fewer, and so transparent they could only be felt, not seen.

They were also no longer cooperating.  Many floated away from the mass, compromising the strength of the wall.  The purpose was to block Cato, the old man, from being able to wield magic.

“Pay attention, son.  Your creation comes from synching yourself with nature.  Shields are not built by sheer willpower.”  Cato lectured the 10 year-old boy, who had been at the exercise for the better part of an hour.  Sweat poured down the boy’s forehead as he furrowed his eyebrows in concentration.  If walls were built with willpower, Cato wouldn’t have a chance.

Cato smiled, forcing air into the flimsy block Shawn had constructed.  Once the air tunnels had penetrated even the smallest pores, he pushed bits of earth through the tunnels with a burst of speed, effectively blowing apart everything Shawn had constructed.

Shawn’s frustrated growl made Cato laugh out loud.  “How did you do that?”  Shawn asked.

“Think of it like overpopulation.  Just as the Earth cannot handle a limitless amount of humans, neither can your wall handle a limitless amount of force.  Now – try again.  This time, concentrate on the purity of your energy.”

Shawn took a sip from his water bottle and threw it aside.  He wiped the sweat off his forehead with his shirt, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes – centering himself just as Cato had taught him.  He drew energy again, attempting to build a wall around Cato’s magical abilities, molecule by molecule.  This time he packed them in tighter, giving his structure a sturdy base.

“Good, good,” Cato commented.  “Soon you will be able to practice with the Gaia herself.  Your manipulation of her magical abilities will include strengthening it, altering it or even blocking it when necessary.”

Shawn fell into a rhythm.  Slowly but surely, the wall was beginning to rise.  It soon became boring, monotonous work.  His thoughts fell to the overpopulation comment Cato made.  “If humans are destroying the planet, because of how many of us there are – why don’t we just make it so there are less of us?”  Shawn asked.

Cato turned a wary eye to the 10 year-old boy, “What do you mean, son?”

“I mean, maybe there should just be less people.”  Shawn continued constructing his wall, brick by brick.

Cato wasn’t sure he should pursue the subject, but he had felt guilty – having spent all his time with the two new children he adopted three weeks ago.  He at least owed it to the boy to treat his ideas with respect; owed him a serious conversation.  “How would you propose we go about doing that?”

Shawn took his time answering.  In the past when he had brought up the subject, he had been either brushed off or rebuked.  “Well, population control, for one.  Like China does.  One kid per family.”

Cato nodded his head, “A valid point.”  Shawn’s wall had completely enclosed Cato from the ground up to his knees.  He could still knock it down, but the boy needed to practice.  “Religion poses a problem.  Many religions preach that faith equals fertility.  Going against such a fundamental belief is not a good idea – even if your original intentions are to save the planet.  Not many will be on your side.  You would alienate our organization from the majority of the population.”

“Religion isn’t all bad – I mean, look at all the wars started because of religious differences.  That got rid of some of the population,” said Shawn.

“You’ve been paying attention in your history lessons!  Good boy!”  Cato ruffled Shawn’s hair, choosing to ignore the darker implications of Shawn’s thought.  Shawn had suddenly picked up speed with his wall – it was now closing over Cato’s chest.

Encouraged, Shawn continued.  “Governments spend so much money on disaster efforts, sick people, old people.  Why don’t they just, you know, stop doing that?  Might help with population numbers.”

“Most certainly.  But then you are telling people to ignore one of the very traits that define humanity – compassion.”  Cato uttered the last word with uncertainty.  He pushed a small amount of energy into the wall.  Impenetrable.  The boy was learning.  Slowly, the wall began closing in; squeezing Cato like a sinister hug.

“But it is compassion, because you are saving the Earth – making it a better place for humans and in the end even saving people,” Shawn said.

Cato tried taking a deep breath, but the squeezing was too intense.  Even though Shawn’s wall was invisible to the naked eye, it was as solid, and as real – as steal.  They boy’s magic, as well as the conversation, were treading dangerous ground.

“Shawn – I think you are missing the point.”  Cato was having more and more difficulty talking as the wall snaked around him.  “The Seven exists to protect and help the Earth.  Those of us that have been blessed with the ability to manipulate elements and energy must do our best to counter the harmful effects of the human population.  We are not here to counter the human population itself.”

“Well, maybe we should.”  Shawn completed the wall; it surrounded Cato like a claustrophobic igloo.  The two stood there, still as ice – one by choice, the other not so much.

Cato was taking in short, constricted breaths, “To what end?  Why then, would we be saving the Earth?  Who would be here to enjoy it?”

Suddenly, the wall disintegrated.  Shawn released his adoptive father and said, “You know – the rest of us.  Whoever is left.”

Cato resisted the urge to brush off of the non-existent wall debris.  “No.  The answer is no.  We will all abide by the mission of the organization – and the mission is not depopulation.”

Completely unnerved by the entire experience, Cato picked up his gym bag and walked away, mumbling excuses of the work awaiting him.

Shawn watched him go.  “Then maybe we need a new organization.”

 

What did you think?  Contact me or comment and let me know! 

Want to read more?  Check out my contemporary eco-fantasy, Water: Book One of the Akasha Series.

Celebrate Who You Are – Guest Post by A.F. Stewart

A.F. Stewart is a fantasy author and blogger.  From Nova Scotia, Canada, she has  several published books including Chronicles of the Undead, a horror novella, as well as short fiction collections, Killers and Demons, Once Upon a Dark and Eerie…, Passing Fancies and Inside Realms.  Her interests include history, painting, and sword replicas.  Stewart writes about loving the fantasy and sci-fi genres:

 

I’m a fantasy/sci-fi geek and have been for most of my life.  I can quote the original Star Wars, my favourite show is Supernatural, I think Batman is the best superhero, I’ve been a admirer of Neil Gaiman since he wrote the Sandman series and my bookshelves are lined with pages of fictional fantasy worlds.  To me, fantasy and its sibling genres of sci-fi and horror are about ideas that could be, questions hiding beyond your sight and wondrous possibilities.

I’ve always loved reading fantasy in any form, so when I decided to pursue writing seriously those tales came naturally to my pen.  I suppose somewhere in the back of my head I wanted to be a part of that community because those were the stories that showed me what magic exists in the written word.  Any honour roll listing the authors that inspired me would include such extraordinary writers as Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Harlan Ellison, and Ray Bradbury.  Their words showed me the way to a whole new and remarkable universe.

Therefore, once I started blogging it’s no wonder I plastered both my blogs with genre specific book reviews, author interviews and general geeky commentary.  I learned early how to chatter on regarding the intricacies and luminary brilliance of the fantasy/sci-fi genres and I put that talent to good use for my posts.  What began as a hesitant experiment in my own book promotion expanded into a minor showcase center for indie speculative fiction and a second side blog for me to occasionally rant about my preferred TV shows and movies.

And I think that is the best part of having these platforms to spotlight my passions.  I love finding a gem of a fantasy book (like my recent read of On Dark Shores by JA Clement) or expounding giddy about my fave show, Supernatural.  Sometimes it’s almost a compulsion, such as what happened after watching the Neil Gaiman penned (I bet you can tell by now I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman) episode of Dr. Who.   I enjoyed that particular episode so much I immediately had to write a review; it took me about twenty minutes to finish.  Sometimes you have to go with the flow.

I guess the moral to this tale (if there is a moral and I haven’t just been rambling again) is to celebrate who you are and, oh, that Geeks Rule!

 

Cheers to that!  : )  Visit Stewart’s blogs at: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/ and  http://afstewartpromotion.blogspot.com/

  

Jennifer is a Junkie

Jennifer is a junkie – a book junkie.  She runs a book review blog called ‘Can’t Put it Down‘ with close to 1,000 followers.  I love this lady – although I may be a little bias considering the glowing review she gave for both ‘Water‘ and ‘Gleaming White‘.  Find out for yourself what all the hoopla is about:

Q:  To start off, would you mind regaling us with the story of how your blog came to be?

Back in June, I had sent a message to author Tim O’Rourke on Goodreads regarding one of his books. After I had written a review he sent me a message that he had been following my reviews and that I should start a review blog. I was a little hesitant at first because I had tried keeping a blog for my family life but had a hard time coming up with anything to write about that family didn’t already know from my Facebook posts! I gave it a try and with almost 8,000 page views I haven’t looked back since!

Q:  Tell us more!  What’s in it for your blog followers?

Blog followers get sneak peaks into upcoming books.  I run lots of giveaways, and of course the scoop on the best books out there!  I also try to make things easy-peasy for my followers so I include the purchase links to the top three e-book vendors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords) and have just started including the purchase price!  There are also come cool events I will be apart of coming in 2012, but I’m not saying anything more about that 😉

Q: Give us a little insight as to what it is like to be a book review blogger.

Being a review blogger is hard work, to be honest. It is like having a second job but instead of earning a check, I get paid in free books! You have to keep up with your reviews and events. I have so many books on my TBR list that I feel bad because I can’t get to them quick enough! I also receive requests daily from authors to review for them. I have met some amazing and talented people, some who have become great friends!

Q: Coffee or tea?

Eh… coffee if I have a choice between the two but you better have lots and lots of sugar and creamer, and none of that sugar in the pink packets either, give me the good stuff!  What I would rather have is a Vanilla Bean Frappe from Starbucks or a Mocha Frappe from McDonalds! I am a total junk food junkie. Take me to the fanciest restaurant in the world and I’m scouring the menu for a well-done burger and fries!

Q: What are some of your all time favorite reads?

When I was younger I was all about the Baby Sitters Club books. I have almost all of them still, most the covers are barely hanging on from being read so many times. Ramona the Pest is still a fav. Right now, my favs would have to be the Kiera Hudson vampire series by Tim O’Rourke, Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey (if you want to be scared read Forsaken!), Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth (this author has a touching personal story), and of course Water (tapping my foot impatiently for book two btw!) and Gleaming White! I’m a big fan of Amanda Hocking’s My Blood Approves series too!

Q: Tell us more about indie authors – where to find them, how they have changed the industry, and the pros and cons to buying indie.

Before starting my review blog, I didn’t even know what an indie author was. I was more into reading the Frankenstein series by Dean Koontz, Simon Holt’s The Devouring series, and anything I could get my hands on by Karin Slaughter. Then I start this blog and there is a whole world of unknowns out there just waiting to be discovered! How lucky can a girl get??  One of the best places to find indie authors is on Goodreads.com. If an author is NOT on Goodreads I suggest they join right away! I support indie authors 100%. All but one of my top 10 books read this year would be by unknown authors, with the exception of Gregg Olsen. Indie books are generally cheaper than best-selling author books. You can usually find them for free or from 99 cents to five bucks. I highly suggest Indie authors keep their prices low. Once readers get to know and love their work, they won’t have a problem paying a little more.

I’m a stickler for grammar and punctuation when I read so you sometimes find quite a few reads with some errors. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of person that once I find one I am looking for the next. I’ve started a sister site to help solve that problem. It’s called Extra Set of Eyes and I offer basic editing services.

I love finding that person who has written a great story and helping to get their name out there! Indie authors are changing the way readers read one book at a time. They are depending on bloggers to spread the word because a lot of them don’t have the money to spend on pricey advertising.

Q:  What’s next for you and your blog?

As I mentioned before, there will be lots of great events (giveaways, hops, book tours) coming in 2012. WordPress is a hard blog to get followers with because it doesn’t have the GFC like Blogspot does but I would love to get my follower number up! I’m also a Facebook junkie and can’t wait to reach that 1,000 ‘like’ mark (I’m almost at 700 now) on my blogs page. I’m excited for the new year to bring more book reviews and introduce more great authors to the blogosphere. I’m always open to suggestions and comments from my readers and authors!

Can't Put It Down...A Book Reviewer's Blog

Burning Down the House – Guest Post by Stephen Hise

Please welcome Stephen Hise, author of Upgrade, described as a bodice ripper with a Twilight Zone twist.  He also runs the website Indies Unlimited; a great resource for authors that is both fun and entertaining!  If you haven’t signed up to follow him yet…do it.  Do it – I dare you.  Stephen is here to talk about Indie publishing and it’s future:

We are at the beginning of a technological revolution in how books are written, published, marketed, purchased, and read. The hallmark of the technological revolution is that the changes in technology occur faster than society on the whole can adapt to them.

Everyone wants change. No one wants the change that actually happens. Remember all the tumult and furor generated when humankind moved from cave paintings to stone tablets, and again to scrolls before settling comfortably on bound-paper books? No? Well, I’m sure there was quite an uproar.

Technology has put on her running shoes. You can stay behind, faking a cramp, or run along and try to keep up. It may be that the big six publishing houses will somehow adapt and survive. Maybe they won’t. Maybe the big chain bookstores will adapt and survive. Maybe they won’t. The systemic changes will come gradually. It is not that print is dead, but there is little doubt that it is on the way out. It may take a generation before a child hoists a paper book up from some trunk he was exploring in the attic and asks Grandpa what this thing is.

The vaunted gatekeepers of publishing are in disarray. Now writers who could not navigate the labyrinth of agents, publishers, and publicists can get their work directly to readers without any intermediaries. The readers will now decide if this is “what they’re looking for.”

Some of the writing now available is excellent. Some is crap. Know what? The same thing was true when the gatekeepers controlled things. I’ve bought some titles from well-known traditionally published authors that made me wonder how such a thing ever got published. In truth, all the same sins that the traditional publishing houses so easily see in indie-published books are the same sins of which they themselves are guilty.

So the big traditional publishers can cry, whine, and point fingers all they want. The fact is that now readers have more choice and they can buy more books with less money than ever before. That is a good thing.

Indie authors are also accessible to their readers. Most have websites, blogs, and Facebook pages where a reader can communicate directly with an author, get to know them, and ask them questions. I see that as a very positive change. I think readers appreciate that as well.

I wouldn’t hold forth for a minute that everything coming down the pike will be all sunshine and roses – It never is. On the whole, I think we are witnessing some very interesting creative destruction that will change the landscape of writing, publishing and reading for many years to come.

 

Stephen Hise is the author of the novel, UPGRADE. You can learn more about him at his website, http://stephenhise.com/ and check out his blog celebrating independent authors at: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/ His book is available as an e-book at Amazon and Smashwords, or in print from Wordclay.  Also be sure to visit him on Facebook!

 

Flash Fiction – Raining Mud

Another short for you.  This one features Alex and Susan, two characters in my novel ‘Water’, and shows how Alex was introduced to the Seven

Somehow when I thought of Afghanistan, I imagined desert, men in turbans, and camels. I was so wrong. Instead, there were treacherous, ice-covered mountains. The men who shot at me didn’t wear turbans; they mostly wore their knitted pokal hats. And the only camel I saw was dead, bones picked clean by a starving village.

It was a horrible place, made more so by constant war. I shrugged off the misery of Afghanistan; it was better than going to foster parents. My mom signed the parental release forms for the military on her death bed; we had no surviving kin.

“Henson! Do you have them yet?”

“Working on it.” I grunted back. I was supposed to be behind the lines in a warm tent, playing with high-tech, cryptologic receivers trying to intercept enemy communications. But our small detachment got attacked, and the commander decided to integrate the radio guys with infantry. Apparently, in Afghanistan, there was no such thing as ‘behind the lines’.

“Hurry up, Marine! We need some intel.” The platoon sergeant kept pressuring me. He had no idea how difficult it was to operate a receiver with bullets flying so close I could feel the wind off of them.

“I swear to – ” The sergeant was cut off by a bullet to the throat. I watched, his body falling in slow motion while the rest of the world continued at a normal speed. Dust billowed up around him as he hit the ground. I crawled over to him, putting pressure on his throat. He started to gurgle so I let go immediately, afraid I was choking him. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I looked around helplessly, just in time to see the first truck in our convoy out of there get blown up. By the time I looked back down at the sergeant, he was gone – eyes wide open and lifeless.

I stared in shock, from my bloody hands to the whites of his eyes, and back again. His body jumped slightly as a bullet zipped into his side; like kicking him while he was down.

“Fuck a whole lot of this.” I immediately backed away; that bullet was probably meant for me. Another deafening blast; the convoy was not done getting ripped apart either. Where the hell were the reinforcements? I had called for them myself over three hours ago. These shooters weren’t exactly accurate, but they were coming out of the woodworks. Word of our position spread faster than disease out here, except to our allies.

I grabbed my rifle and radio and slithered over to a ravine. Two grunts took position on either side of me; keeping enemy bullets at bay. I switched channels back and forth on HF, trying to remember the frequency for the battalion. I didn’t bother going secure; there was no time for it.

Finally, something came in. It wasn’t the battalion intercepting my distress call. It was a woman. “Say again, I do not read you. I repeat…say again.”

“This is Corporal Henson, 3rd Platoon located three clicks northwest of Korengal Valley. We are under fire; we need air support and evacuation of casualties. Transportation is out.”

“Where is your battalion, Corporal? I will relay the message.”

I gave the woman my battalion’s information and our grid coordinates, praying this wasn’t some sort of trap. Five minutes later the radio crackled back to life, “Helo went down in route to evac you. They are doing recovery efforts there. Will be some time before they can get to you.”

I exchanged a despaired look with one of the Marines beside me. I put the handset up to my mouth when her voice came back on, “We are coming in from the south. Look for two vehicles with the number seven on the side. And do not effin’ shoot us.”

“Who are you?”

There was a short pause before she answered, “A friend.”

“Seals?” One of the Marines offered.

“What, they’re sending GI Jane to save us?” I rolled my eyes at him. Maybe CIA? Whatever – if she had vehicles that weren’t currently on fire, it’ll do.

No less than ten minutes later, the sound of idling vehicles reached us. They stayed well back from the battlefield, hidden to the enemy in the shadows. We had all taken up positions behind our rifles, but couldn’t let up. A break in fire could mean an enemy through our lines; another Marine dead.

A slight tap at the shoulder and my reaction was to immediately let my elbow fly back. Thankfully, she was expecting that, and ducked.

“I suppose I should’ve made it clear. No elbows, either.” The woman was almost as tall as me, an unusual trait. She was in tennis shoes and what looked like a running outfit. It wasn’t camouflage but at least it was dark. She had her hair pulled back into a tight ponytail at the nape of her neck. In rural America, she could have passed for a jogger.

“Who are you; why are you here?”

“I am Susan. We are going to get you out of here – alive.” She peeked around me at the raging battle; we weren’t even in the thick of it. We were on the outskirts. She put up a hand-held walkie-talkie to her mouth and began issuing instructions.

“But why are you in the area?” I asked.

“We’re here to help the environment.”

I laughed – as did several others. Susan glowered at me.

“Seriously, now.”

“I am being serious.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, woman.” The crazy episodes of Whale Wars came to mind. “My hands are stained with the blood of my sergeant, and you’re here to keep them from cutting down trees?!” I shot off my last couple of rounds and changed out magazines. “There are no trees out here!”

She shrugged, “Not anymore.”

I looked at her, mouth open, “You are serious.”

“They cut down most of their trees for war. Plus, the land is depleted and not conducive for agriculture. Help the land, help the economy. A stable economy makes for a stable country. See – it’s this whole domino effect that I don’t have time to explain, because your Marines are dying.”

Another explosion, closer this time, sent us all flying. We picked ourselves up. One of the Marines beside me went running into the thick of it, relaying orders for a retreat. He never came back. 13 others did.

“We can all fit, I think – let’s get going before they realize what’s up.” Susan said.

“No,” I stopped her, grabbing her at the wrist. “We have to get the fallen.”

Her mouth pressed into a tight line, “I’m sorry, we just don’t have enough room.” There must have been twice as many Marines dead than those that still stood. I shook my head, “Non-negotiable.”

Susan stopped, turned to face our group, and scanned their faces slowly. They were tired, dirty, bloody, hurt, and scared. But they were as resolute as I was. We all go, or no one goes.

She dropped her head in consent, “Fine. But we’ll need at least one other vehicle.”

There was one other, sitting untouched amongst the smoldering scraps of its brothers. I could see face of the enemy just beyond it. They hadn’t approached yet, but it wouldn’t be long now. “We’ll need a diversion.”

“Done,” Susan said, “When the storm hits, get someone to back that vehicle out of there, and get everyone on board – quick.” Susan held the walkie-talkie up to her mouth again, “I need you here.”

Placing the walkie-talkie in her back pocket, she closed her eyes, and began slowly raising her arms into the sky.

“What are you doing?”

“Please don’t distract me.”

A large, native-American man, with dark, black hair in a thick braid that went down to the middle of his back, walked up to join Susan. Despite the cold, he was in a sleeveless shirt. His thick arms were adorned with tattoos of the planet Earth, various trees and of course eagles.

“You people are crazy.”

“About as crazy as you, Marine.”

Great, compatible by insanity. Susan’s arms were all the way above her head now, and the wind had begun to pick up. How had she known a storm was coming?

I looked back at her face.  Her eyes were striking, glowing a bright green against the dark sky. Her hair was coming loose; wild strands whipped around her face. The man next to her was now kneeling, with one hand on the ground, chanting.

The Marine standing next to me suddenly lurched forward, then fell to the ground. Blood gushed out from under his not-so-bulletproof helmet. That was the last Sergeant; meaning now I was in charge.

Susan yelled at me over the increasing wind, now infused with dirt and sand, “The storm will temporarily disorient them and slow them down. But it won’t stop bullets.”

Got it.  I barked out orders to the nearest Marine, “As soon as the storm moves into that group there, run for the vehicle. We’ll lay down cover fire.”  Then turned to the rest of the group, “The rest of you – get your brothers. We’re bringing them home.”

I had to cover my mouth. Where had all the sand come from? I had seen nothing but ice and rock on the ground for almost a month. The sky cracked open with a bolt of lightning, and rain like I had never even seen stateside poured down. It was literally raining mud. The storm’s intensity moved from directly overhead toward the enemy line. We were still getting rain and wind, but now they were bearing the brunt of it. My platoon stood stock still, staring at the freak storm with nervous glances at Susan and the Native American. “Move it!”

My bark shocked them into action. The whirlwind of rain and mud tightened in on itself, sounding almost like a freight train. Susan’s vehicles pulled forward, and two more men got out to help load the wounded and the dead.

Our vehicle came up beside them. A quick head count – everyone was accounted for and loaded up. “We’re good!” I shouted to Susan.

Her arms began to sink back down to her sides, and she lay a hand on her companions shoulder. He broke out of his trance and stood up. The storm had already started to diminish.

“We have about five minutes before they come charging through what’s left of the sandstorm.” Susan said as she hopped into the passenger side of one car. “You coming?”

“Yeah.” I narrowed my eyes at the storm, then her. It couldn’t be. But then again, I did just see it for myself.

I was the last one to the vehicles. I glanced at the large number seven painted on the side of the vehicle, then crowded Susan over as there were no more seats.

“I want to join.”

Susan looked at me with a half-smile, she exchanged glances with the Native American, then handed me a clean rag from the glove box. “Haven’t you done enough joining for one lifetime?”

I used it to wipe the blood from my hands, “Apparently not.”

I leaned back in my seat, and put my arm around Susan. This was one lady who offered adventure I could not pass up.

 

Interview with Alexia (aka Book Bully, Tech-Tard, and Bombshell)

I’m kicking off a weekly series where I interview another author or a book review blogger, or have them do a guest post.  We’ll start off with a bombshell – a blue-eyed, blond-haired bombshell to be exact.  Meet Alexia from Alexia’s Chronicles.  She blogs paranormal romance and urban fantasy book reviews.  Her reviews are as much fun to read as the books themselves!

I have to send my sincere thanks to Alexia for hosting a giveaway of my first eco-fantasy novel, ‘Water’ and for posting such a great review.  I am a follower for life!

Q: Why don’t you start out by telling us why you decided to start a blog?

Hmmm… starting a blog was never really on the top of my to-do list. I just love reading! I devour books! I went through a stage this year of feeling down and thinking there has to be something out there for me that is fun and fulfilling. I can remember having my ‘brain fart’ (that’s what my friends and I call an epic idea) at work while daydreaming. I immediately jumped on the rollercoaster at full speed and everything just escalated from there. The design process hasn’t been easy… I’m a total tech-tard and I have cursed Blogger so many times. My solution: a bottle of wine and working till early hours in the morning designing Alexia’s Chronicles.

Q: Tell us more about your blog  – why is it so damn cool?  What do you offer readers?

My blog is cool??! *happy chicken dance*  I think it’s because it’s very interactive with my readers / followers. To me it is very important to develop friendships with my blogger peeps. My reviews are super ‘in your face’ honest. I will always have something to say about the hottie male character in a book, and I will never reveal a plot or start a review by giving a summary of the book, that’s what the synopsis is for. My reviews are basically just my thoughts of the book, my feelings towards characters (for example, if a character grated my cheese in a bad way – I’ll say I want to give them a ‘what for’).

Q: Who are some of your all-time fave authors and why?

Kresley Cole! Immortals After Dark is my all time fave series – I think I’ve read those books about 6 times, I just never get tired of it. I love her writing style and the characters in her books. The storylines are original and freaking epic! Her books basically have everything in it that I enjoy, hotness monsters of note, steamy romantic scenes, kick-ass chicks and action.

Q: Coke or Pepsi?

Coke… with a shot of Southern Comfort 😉

Q: What would you like to see more of in books or in the publishing industry in general? 

Like I said above, what makes a book fun for me to read is when there is an epic, original storyline with steamy romantic scenes, a dash of humour and is action packed. Books that are fast paced are right up my alley. As long as the authors keep churning out books like that I’ll be a happy camper. I don’t have much to say regarding the publishing industry. Right now I am supporting and promoting self published authors. I have also been known to be a ‘book bully’ – no really, it’s true. I simply can’t wait to read their next book. So… uhm… Terra, how are things going with your next installment, Air?

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?  

At the moment I work as a Personal Assistant and I’ve been doing that for about 5 years now, but it’s time for a change. I love anything to do with books – so I’d like to go in that direction. I have a seriously overactive imagination and weird ass dreams so maybe I should think about writing my own book? You never know…  I’m keeping an open mind and will see what is out there. It would be really cool if I could be a book review blogger 24/7 and get paid for it! 😉

Q: What’s next for you and your blog?

My blog: Well, I’d like to expand my blog. I started with it in August this year and I’d like to change it up a bit, you know… add extra awesome to it! So far I’ve only done reviews and one giveaway (which we rocked at, just by the way). Early next year I’ll be doing another giveaway and be a host in a blog tour! Exciting stuff, right?!

Next for me: My saying for next year: “I’m about 3 miles from Crazy Town with my foot on the pedal”. This past year has taught me to take life by the horns and live it to the fullest! I’ll be figuring out where my career path is going to lead me and just having a blast. Always remember… Silence is golden but Shouting is fun!

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Thank you for having me and a HUGE thank you for the giveaway! It has been fun working with you and I hope we will have many future endeavors. Much love, Alexia xx

Flash Fiction – Oil Spill

Welcome to the first ever edition of my weekly short stories, based on characters from my books.  I’ve yet to come up with a clever series name; so for now I’m sticking with Weekly Shorts.  If you have any ideas for a better name – feel free to comment!  I promise to keep them between 1,000 to 2,000 words each.  These are samples of my raw, unedited writing – please excuse any grammar/spelling mistakes!

 This week’s short features Susan and Micah (brother and sister) at a younger age on one of their first missions for the Seven, an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth

“Susan, Micah. Keep up.” The Gaia snapped at the kids trailing her. The hired dog sled team had refused to take them further so they were forced to walk the last mile over rough, icy terrain to the shores of Prince William Sound. “And turn off that blasted headset.”

Susan rolled her eyes, but obeyed anyway and slipped her Walkman into her backpack. “It keeps my mind off the cold. It is freezing out here.” Susan buried her head back under her parka’s thick jacket hood and spared a sideways glance for her younger brother. The bite of an Alaskan winter didn’t seem to be affecting him as much; his mind was elsewhere. Just one month ago, with the untimely passing of the Seven’s Ardwyad, Micah had taken his place. Youngest ever Ardwyad, their adoptive father Cato had said. The Gaia had reservations about an 11-year-old Ardwyad. Several in fact, that she made known to Cato, to Susan and to Micah himself, especially during their tedious trek from Indonesia to Alaska to help with the oil spill.

Her rants did nothing for Micah’s confidence. Since his job was basically to protect and train the Gaia, she really could have helped herself by helping him. Instead, she was making it worse for everyone. Susan couldn’t blame the Gaia too much. Susan knew the Ardwyad’s job was also to kill the Gaia once a stronger one was found. This wasn’t always common knowledge with the Gaias that came through; although Susan was sure this Gaia knew. She has accepted her fate with grace; that is until she met her would-be assassin face to face.

There had been a short send-off ceremony for the trio. The Gaia had tolerated it with her arms crossed tight over her chest, Micah was hanging on every word spoken during the ceremony, and Susan had kept her Walkman on the entire time. Cato blessed them with a prayer;

The Earth is my Mother

I shall not want.

Her breathe is the air that gives me life.

Her hand brings forth the green pastures.

Rivers run forth from her great breasts, remain close.

Fire is her gift, providing purity and warmth.

Her womb is the earth that will enfold me.

Surely, goodness and beauty will nurture me all the days of my life,

and I will become part of the earth forever.

“Here is good.” The Gaia stopped so suddenly, Micah almost ran into the back of her.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. Susan automatically wondered if he was aware of the ‘other’ part of his job; she sure as hell wasn’t going to be the one to tell him. How would he do it anyway? Would they give him a gun? A poison syringe? Was suicide an option – just to spare an 11-year-old boy the trouble? She probably wouldn’t, selfish –

“Susan! Snap out of it!” The Gaia had lost all patience with her charges. “I swear to God, I should’ve been doing this with Sian.” Sian was the former Ardwyad, and had chosen to go with the previous Gaia when it was her time. Susan had only been there a few years, and she hadn’t detected a love interest but what goes on between a Gaia and her Ardwyad mentor was largely private.

The three stood on an icy bank looking out into a sea of oil. Ribbons of gray and brown were strewn over the ocean water, turning almost shiny in the sunlight, and slowly spreading out like an infectious disease. They were told to help, but given very little direction as to how. Cato merely asked they bring as much oil ashore as they could; it would be easier for the Adanas, the earth elementals, to clean up from there.

“Ok, Susan. Do your thing,” said the Gaia.

“My thing?”

“You are a Nerina, yes?”

“Yes,” said Susan.

“A Nerina specializes in the element of water, yes?”

“Yes.”

“This water is dirty, yes?”

Susan grit her teeth together, “Yes.”  She was barely able to hold back the string of curse words trying to force their way out.

“So clean it. I didn’t know you needed someone to tell you how to do your job.”

Susan wanted to scream out loud. Instead, she chose to be the adult, and turned to the oil. She had limited practice with Cato, but had more with her mother who was also a Nerina. She wished she could remember more of that training. She wished she could remember more of her mother. At least she has some memories; Micah had been too young to remember anything about their parents. All he had was Cato.

Susan shook off the depression that always set in when she thought of her parents, and concentrated on her task. Almost immediately, she felt herself connect with the water. The tide rushed in to meet her, then pulled a part of her back out with it. Normally she’d have to fight the pull. She would be fighting to stay on land when all she wanted to do is submerge herself in the life-giving liquid. Not this time. This time the water was tainted and sluggish. The dark slime permeated every small cell, leaking into the very essence of the water, the very essence of Susan.

Susan dry-heaved at the feeling, and felt the Gaia huff behind her. She took another deep breath, telling herself it wasn’t really on her. But that was a lie – the water, Susan’s lifeline, was almost beyond repair. All Susan could detect was death; molecules were corroded – and as a result phytoplankton, fish, mammals, and the eco-system as a whole were dying.

Micah stepped up next to his sister. She looked down at him and smiled. His mere presence was calming. Susan attributed it to the fact that although they had an adoptive father, no one would really look out for Micah like she would. He was solely her responsibility. Believing this gave her strength.

She took Micah’s hand in her own, squeezing to feel the ridges of his fingers through their thick gloves, and closed her eyes. The ocean opened itself up to her, revealing its composition, movement, and more importantly, the elemental forces within.

She experimented with those forces, delving into her work, cold forgotten along with time. It took her near three hours before the puzzle before her finally unfolded. Susan targeted the water molecules, charging them with energy. The trace amounts of metals found in the crude oil repelled from the charged molecules, and automatically pushed itself away like two wrong sides of a magnet.

The only problem was, if the oil were to separate from the water, it had to go somewhere, and the only somewhere around that wasn’t water was the shore, which so happened to be where they were standing.

The oil gained momentum, propelled forward by a magnetism force. Within seconds the oil slick was several dozen feet high. Susan, shocked out of her connection with her element, was at a loss on how to stop it.

The Gaia immediately sent her own weaves into the water, trying to undo Susan’s manipulation. But the Gaia’s elemental strength, even with water, was double Susan’s. The surge of her energy into the ecosystem further charged the molecules and caused the slick to pick up speed. Now they both were at a loss at how to stop it.

Micah, feeling largely inept until now, stepped in front of the Gaia. He ignored the oncoming wave of oil and faced her. His hands clenched, and his face had gone red in anticipation of what he thought he must do.

Rivers run forth from her great breasts, remain close. The prayer Cato said before they departed was the only thing running through Micah’s head.

Suddenly, Micah buried his face square between the Gaia’s breasts, which elicited a high-pitched squeak from the Gaia.

Susan’s mouth dropped open. Micah pulled his head out, sucked in a badly needed breath, then looked back at the oil slick. It was still coming. He turned and did another face plant; only harder. Thinking perhaps she couldn’t feel him under all those layers of clothes, he shook his head back and forth.

Just as the wall of crude oil crashed into the shoreline, it lost momentum. It slowed and rolled to a goopy stop right at the trio’s feet. Micah’s move had flustered the Gaia, causing her body to flood with adrenaline. Since her natural reaction of accumulating nearby energy during an adrenaline rush followed; she essentially discharged the molecules.

Susan looked at her brother in wonder. He couldn’t have known how that would play out. Nonetheless, Micah turned back to the Gaia, still wide-eyed, but also with a small smile of accomplishment.

He had done his job; he had finally proven himself worthy of his Ardwyad title. The Gaia slowly raised her hand and issued a neat slap to his face.

“When we get back to the Chakra, I am filing a sexual harassment suit.”

Susan could no longer hold her snort of laughter back; as if the Seven had a human resources department. The Gaia turned on Susan, “Of which you will be included as an accomplice.”

“How – ”

“ – for helping to fulfill the desires of your puberty-stricken brother!”

The Gaia turned on her heel, sliding in what oil had made it that far onto shore, and stomped away in the ice and snow; black boot prints trailing her.

Susan watched the Gaia go, then scooped up some clean snow and put it on her brother’s reddening cheek. He held it in place.

“Well, how was your first time?” She asked.

“It was…” he started to walk after the Gaia, slowly, and Susan followed. “Liberating.”

Susan cleared her throat.

Micah looked up, suddenly appalled, “Wait, did you mean using magic? I mean…I didn’t use any magic. I thought you meant…her, um – “

“Don’t say it. I don’t even want to know what you call them.” Susan spared a sideways glance for her brother, then punched him playfully in the arm. He punched back and missed.

She shouldn’t be so hard on him. He had rougher times with women ahead. It was those handsome green eyes of his; they were going to get him into big trouble one day.

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What did you think of my first short?  Please comment or an e-mail directly to me at terra (dot) harmony11 (at) gmail (dot) com.  Worth following?  Please sign up to follow by e-mail!

My Interviews, Guest Posts and Such

To catch y’all up – I’ve done a series of interviews and guest posts.  These along with all future ‘Terra’ highlights can be found in the ‘About Me’ section.  Now on to the fun:

Interview with Maria Violante
Q: There were a few, well, adult passages in here!  Was that something you had to think about before including them in the novel?

A: For sure! In fact, I still debate taking them out and floating my book around the YA crowd. Maybe it would do better there. But the fact is, I’m not really sure I belong there as an author. I’m not sure it would be a sustainable career for me. So onward I go – sex scenes and all!

A.F. Stewart’s Interview with Terra Harmony
Q: What’s next for you?
A: An ice cream sandwich.  And then maybe just a few more hundred words before bedtime…

Indie Author Spotlight on TNBBC
The publishing industry is about to go eco on y’all!

Guest Post on Indies Unlimited
Quality is Job #1 for Indie Authors

Books for Company: Cover Crazy
My super-awesome book cover by super-awesome graphic artist and indie author Keary Taylor is all the craze.

Pitch-Slapped
Not my finest moment, but probably not my worst either – so I don’t mind sharing it.

Indie Snippets – Water
Fun way to find new Indie books.  If you use it, be sure to send props to indie author Bryan Dennis.

Indie Snippets – Gleaming White
Fun way to find new Indie books.  If you use it, be sure to send props to indie author Bryan Dennis.

Fan Page
On Facebook.  Stop by and ‘like’ me, because I am all about the numbers.

Goodreads Author Page
By the way, if you are an author and not active on Goodreads – get going!  Also if you are a reader and not on Goodreads, same applies to you.

Amazon Author Page
‘Like’ me here, too – I don’t know, it may do something for my sales!

 

1st Post – Are you as excited as I am? Probably not.

Welcome, welcome!  I am finally getting around to building my author website and I am excited for all the content I have planned for it!  In addition to more info on my books (sample reads, where to buy, downloadable book group discussion points, etc.), I plan to post short stories (based on my book’s characters) once a week, resources for readers and writers, and guest author posts and interviews.

I’d appreciate it if you would become a follower of the site – I won’t disappoint!

Thanks for stopping by!

Terra Harmony