Posts Tagged ‘e-books’

Short Fiction Wednesday! Dedication

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Welcome to the seventh week of Short Fiction Wednesday, in which I feature the first 1.5-2k of a story from my ebook collection Night Bird Soaring and Other Stories, which features 17 different reprint selections ranging from fantasy to horror to alternate history. If you enjoy what you read here, you can purchase the full collection at Amazon or B&N for $2.99.

Night Bird Soaring and Other StoriesThis week’s selection returns us to the Aztec alternate history series known as The One World. This story–“Dedication”–first appeared in Dragons, Knights and Angels, and examines how some of the Mesoamerican religious practices have evolved into the future. Human sacrifice still survives strong, and has gained wider acceptance through the use of the Omitzmahuizyoti: people cloned from the general populace to be sacrificed on the temples in place of ordinary citizens. Not everyone agrees with this practice though, and when Quicaltia meets his own Omitzmahuizyoti named Tlacuilo, he’s determined to liberate his twin from his bloody destiny….

Dedication

The stone serpent’s ruby eyes shimmered in the crisp morning sun, its two-hundred-foot body stretching up the staircase, the head resting at the bottom and the tail disappearing onto the top-most platform. Workers painted its fang-bared face with glittering opalescence. Halfway up the pyramid stretched a band of frescos featuring frogs, fish, and egrets. Only the occasional shuttle flying silently overhead interrupted the clean blue expanse of the sky.

Quicaltia—the monument’s chief architect—counted a hundred and eighty steps as he and the construction foreman climbed the pyramid. “The second one-eighty is on the other side,” the foreman said. “The extra five are over there.” He pointed to the one-story blue temple to be dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc in two weeks. “The goldsmiths assure me the idol will be ready by early next week.”

Inside the temple, stone façade covered only one wall but several white-mantled workers were cementing a second together over the steel frame work. Another man worked on a mural of mountains and rain clouds on the one completed wall.

“Exquisite work,” Quicaltia said, stepping up for a closer look. He’d painted in his youth, before family obligations forced him to take up more tedious but lucrative work.

“A thousand thanks,” the man replied.
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Short Fiction Wednesday! Someday

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Welcome to the sixth week of Short Fiction Wednesday, in which I feature the first 1.5-2k of a story from my ebook collection Night Bird Soaring and Other Stories, which features 17 different reprint selections ranging from fantasy to horror to alternate history. If you enjoy what you read here, you can purchase the full collection at Amazon or B&N for $2.99.

Night Bird Soaring and Other StoriesToday’s selection is a flash fiction horror piece, so you get the full story below! It originally appeared in Dark Recesses, and rather than go into much about it, we’ll just move onto the story. Be warned that this is a horror story, so the usually content cautions apply.

Someday

Someday, someone will find her and he’ll love her, that much is certain. She can be difficult to love, but there must be someone strong enough.

Today a cowboy on a chestnut mare finds her. Or maybe he’s a cattle rancher. She’s not sure. He’s rugged, handsome in his sweat-stained brown Stetson, and he wears a ratty yellow bandana around his neck, hanging slightly askew. She loves how he stares at her with his stubbly jaw hanging open. Certainly he doesn’t see such lovely creatures poking out of the barren desert floor everyday. She’s been here for a while; her once long, blonde hair is red from years of sweeping it through the dust, and her skin’s a little leathery from the sun. I’m still beautiful though, she muses. Many have told her so.

The cowboy’s shadow gives her a welcome respite from the afternoon heat. “Mighty hot today, don’t you think?” she asks with a bright smile. Polite small talk is always a nice opening into real conversation.

“What in God’s name happened to you? Someone bury you up to your neck or somethin’?” he asks.

“I deserved it.” She sighs. “I was a bad girl.”
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Short Fiction Wednesday! So Weeps the Thunderbird

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Welcome to the fifth week of Short Fiction Wednesday, in which I feature the first 1.5-2k of a story from my ebook collection Night Bird Soaring and Other Stories, which features 17 different reprint selections ranging from fantasy to horror to alternate history. If you enjoy what you read here, you can purchase the full collection at Amazon or B&N for $2.99.

Night Bird Soaring and Other StoriesThis week’s selection is “So Weeps the Thunderbird”, which originally appeared in a Lilith-themed anthology called Lilith Unbound. It’s a bitter-sweet story of love and betrayal, featuring the Thunderbird of Native American lore and of course Lilith, who appears here not as a demon but rather an angel. She’s every bit the selfish, manipulative creature of the old stories though and ensnaring the Thunderbird’s affections will not only bring great destruction on the world, but will see him lose everything he holds most dear.

So Weeps the Thunderbird

Wakinyan the Thunderbird landed in the Kingdom of Heaven’s pastel-and-marble city center and shook the rain from his enormous wings. A couple of angels sitting on nearby stools, playing Takhteh Nard, protested the shower, but Wakinyan ignored them, ruffling his golden-brown feathers then smoothing them, making sure he looked proper for his audience with Yahweh. He then hopped toward the palace entrance, his talons clicking on the marble surface.

In the hallway he encountered the angel Samael—Yahweh’s eldest son—who appraised him with amusement. “Can I help you with something?” he asked the giant bird.

The Thunderbird blinked his impatient yellow eyes. “I bring greetings to your father from the Great Spirit. You will show me to him.”

Samael narrowed his icy-blue eyes but then turned and led the way. Wakinyan had met him the summer before, when the Great Spirit invited Yahweh and his young angels to watch the stick-and-ball games on the mighty plains. Samael spent much of the time comparing his wing color with Raven’s, absurdly stupid since they both had ill-kept, dingy black feathers that appeared to be crawling with lice. Wakinyan didn’t like how Samael smirked at his hopping gait. Not that Wakinyan ever liked anyone; he found it easier to be suspicious rather than cheery.
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Short Fiction Wednesday! My Sweet Andromache

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Welcome to the fourth week of Short Fiction Wednesday, in which I feature the first 1.5-2k of a story from my ebook collection Night Bird Soaring and Other Stories, which features 17 different reprint selections ranging from fantasy to horror to alternate history. If you enjoy what you read here, you can purchase the full collection at Amazon or B&N for $2.99.

Night Bird Soaring and Other StoriesWith this week’s selection, we move back to science fiction. “My Sweet Andromache” is a time travel love story inspired by The Iliad, and a particularly fascinating class on Greek history I took in college. Nikias is an Observational Historian, sent back in time to observe history first hand, and he’s been sent back to find out the truth about the Trojan War and the collapse of the Bronze Age in the Aegean. To his surprise, some of the characters from Homer’s poems do indeed exist as real people. He secures employment with Hector, a nobleman known for his skills with breaking horses, but when Nikias falls in love with his wife Andromache, history could start unraveling….

My Sweet Andromache

I kissed Andromache gently on the forehead, letting my lips linger for a moment as I filled my nose with the smell of oil, sweat, and lilies. I didn’t want to leave. But Hector would return soon from the council meeting in the city and only a fool wished to test the man’s legendary brutality with a sword.

Out the door and over the side of the wooden deck I went, lowering myself to the top of the garden’s stone wall. I dropped behind a partition of crisp evergreen bushes growing along the outside and walked crouched until I came to the front of the house. Crickets hummed in the hot summer evening and the air smelled of jasmine and tasted of sea salt.
At the end of the hedgerow, I checked for slaves then stepped out and headed for the barn.

“The troublemaker emerges at last.”

No one had spoken English to me in several months, so I flinch and whipped around. A woman—the Continuity Monitor Catherine—sat on the corral’s rock wall, the breeze rippling her sheer gown. Her leather-sandaled feet were crossed at the ankles, mimicking her stern, folded arms. Her skin glowed white from the subspace shield covering her from head to foot.

“Why would you sneak up on a man in the middle of the night?” I asked, glaring at her. But I already knew the reason for her visit.

Catherine shook her head. “You couldn’t help yourself, huh, Nik?”

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Out with the old, in with the new

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So 2012 has come and gone and the new year is before us, which means taking stock of what I accomplished and then looking ahead to the future.

So, last year was a crazy ride of ups and downs, some of which I still can’t talk about because things haven’t completely ironed out yet. I finished a second draft of one novel, started a third (which I didn’t even get half-way through), then wrote another novel in a completely different genre, but again in the same milieus that I love. I still haven’t lost the desire to write about Aztec history and mythology, and have several more stories brewing in the back of my mind. I started the year off strong and hopeful, but hit a slump where I wasn’t enjoying writing anymore, but moving ahead into a new genre helped me rediscover my love of writing. However, I think my lack of desire to move on to new subjects led to the demise of my career in traditional publishing before it even started; there is apparently no market for what I write with traditional publishers, in either genre I’m writing in, but I really, really want to write these stories, so in the end, I decided to let my agent go and strike out on my own. She put in a lot of work on trying to sell my novel and unfortunately that didn’t turn out as well as we’d both hoped, but I think going a less traditional route might be better for the kind of stuff I write. There were some interesting developments in that category in December and hopefully I’ll be able to make some announcements by the end of January. Stay tuned!

On the negative side of things, I made zero money this year on writing, a first since I’ve started doing this in earnest. At least the taxes will be easy to do this year.

As for this year, I’m putting aside the failures of the past and pressing onward. I know what I want to write and am going to do it, and if it means self-publishing it in the end, then so be it. Part of me still wants a traditional sale with the backing of a big publisher, if only because it seems on the surface to be less work for me, but the idea of self-publishing isn’t as scary anymore. The professional world is changing fast, and traditional publishing is looking less and less stable and safe as it used to. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of getting an agent again, for the idea of going into any contract without someone to watch my back makes me sweat, but that just might not be in the cards for me.

On conventions, I don’t know that I’m going to go to any this year, aside from my local one. I really want to be able to go to LonCon in London in the summer of 2014 and that means having to save money for the trip, especially since I’d love to bring the whole family with me this time. The plan this year is to not attend either WorldCon or World Fantasy, though I loath to go two years without seeing my best friends at least once.

On a final note, after having heard really good things about RWA as a writer’s organization from several close friends, I went ahead and joined, and joined a local chapter here in Denver at the end of the year. It seemed a good move professionally since what I’m writing right now is, for intent and purposes, genre romance, and it would be useful to learn from other romance writers. I do intend to approach some small press publishers with this novel I’m working on right now, then self-publish if that doesn’t lead to anything, and there’s at least one more book in this series that I really want to write. In the end I just want to write about what I love and if that leads to sales, great; if not, then at least I’m getting some satisfaction for myself for having told the stories at all.