Here’s the thing

About being a writer…

Being a writer is hard – difficult – a challenge– however you want to phrase the truth. We have our good days, and our bad days. Some days it is a challenge to continue, no matter what those Pinterest quotes might tell you. Writers get tired, exhausted, and often consider throwing in the pen. If we didn’t, I don’t believe we are being honest with ourselves as a “creative” soul.

But pushing beyond those challenges and doubts IS what will define us as a person and as a writer.

To say that we don’t give a @#!*% what others say is naive. We do, otherwise what is the point of writing if not to impart a portion of our characters and our passion to others? But do we allow what others say affect us for eternity? Heavens no! We write on, for that is what it means to be a writer.

It helps motivate us to find our cavalier selves which will save our sanity in the future.


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Distance, Day One

Today is the first day after my decision to lift the deadline from my publishing projects and take a break from writing, characters, obligations, dates, and everything else. Today is the first day of my creative and spiritual renewal.

Today is also the first time [in a while] I’ve felt my brain begin to scramble for anything to write about. This is a good sign of the end result of my “forced” (voluntary?) hiatus.

Yesterday afternoon I dedicated my brain to the task of not thinking about my characters–hopefully they are understanding of what could be inferred as the “cold shoulder”. Instead, I prayed about them. About their stories. About the direction their lives would take. I also offered the characters and their stories fully over to my Muse, meaning that I handed the reigns over to the Lord.

He has always been the leader in my creative team–my inspiration since I can remember–and He has never let me down. This hiatus will be key in getting that priority hierarchy back to where it needs to be so I can, once again, enjoy the adventurous struggle of writing about these life-like characters who are constantly with me.

What do you do when you need/take a break?


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-Do-

Para didn’t mind the “tell me what you see” requirement as they traveled because she knew most–if not everything–about the area. Well, that was what she thought until Ranger Lord Swiftfeet asked a question about a particular mark in the grass next to the road. Para didn’t see the mark until she knelt on all fours and squinted. “You noticed this? Was it because it didn’t quite fit with what is usually here?”

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet’s eyebrow twitched. “That is a good observation.”

But the elation of praise didn’t last. Not when Para was faced with the fact she didn’t know as much as she thought she did, it didn’t matter she had been raised here. So, Para asked questions as they traveled to wherever they were going. If she wanted to take care of herself, if she wanted to learn how to be a hunter, she needed to know what Ranger Lord Swiftfeet knew. The only way to learn that was to ask.

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet asked almost as many questions as Para, but the ranger lord’s were definitely more difficult to answer. When Para didn’t know the answer, she decided she would ask more questions to give her the chance to maybe find out the answer. It didn’t work very often, but she learned some interesting things about the creatures in the area she hadn’t known before.

Such as there were giant ants in the plains more than two feet long!

Para didn’t much care for ants in the first place, all creepy with their antennae and six legs, so the thought of coming upon a giant one gave her the shivers.

“Is every hunter in your Fist as good as you are in the plains?”

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet didn’t even cast her a sidelong glance. “No. Ranger Lord Longsight and I are the only hunters specialized.”

“You need to be specialized to train others?”

“Correct.”

“So, what others are there?”

“Terrains? Or specialized hunters?”

“Yes?”

“For each Fist, there is a ranger lord specializing in a terrain style. Terrains consist of plains, mountains, desert, and forest–which also includes marsh and swamp.”

“Does that mean Ranger Lord Longsight’s Fist has a ranger lord for each terrain?”

“Yes, as well as a hunter of a lesser title.”

“Oh. There are a lot of different titles?”

“Ten. Ranger Lord being the tenth.”

Para’s eyes widened. “There’s no title higher than yours?”

“Only that of Fist Ranger Lord.”

The whole thing, though confusing, gave her goosebumps. They were like a band of gypsies!

When twilight began to kiss the horizon, Ranger Lord Swiftfeet decreed it time to begin her training on the proper way to set camp. In that respect the lady ranger lord reminded her of Phillip – always believed his way the only right way to do anything. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that it simply wasn’t so. Of course, he was a lot younger than the lady ranger lord, so Para was more inclined to believe her.

Apparently, the details were very important to Ranger Lord Swiftfeet. If Para performed a task even the slightest bit to her own liking rather than the lady ranger lord’s, she was directed to do it over again. Even if it was the simple digging of the fire pit. She had to fill the hole back in, move to a different location, and start again. By the time Para dug and prepared it to Ranger Lord Swiftfeet’s satisfaction, her arms ached and her shoulders screamed at her to sit down and be still.

And she thought her arms and shoulders ached after sword play with Phillip?

The fire was kept low and Ranger Lord Swiftfeet didn’t talk as she prepared a stake of plain lizard. Para didn’t see a second stake, and her growling stomach wasn’t thrilled at the idea. “Trade you trail rations for a bite of lizard?”

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet didn’t respond at first. Nor did her gaze shift from where she looked out into the distance. “What type of lizard?”

“The kind that is delicious?”

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet’s lips twitched upward before she shifted that intense focus to Para— who just barely kept herself from gulping. “You face challenges with humor.”

“Bad habit.” One she probably learned from Phillip.

“No. It is similar to–” She pressed her lips into a thin line of silence. Then she shifted her focus to Para. “It may give you the strength you need to excel.”

“I want to learn, Ranger Lord Swiftfeet. Won’t that be enough?”

“Perhaps.”

“Well, when did you start training to be a hunter?”

“The moment I was born. My parents were hunters.”

Para lowered her eyes to the cap in her fidgeting fingers. “My parents were tradesmen. My dad….”

“Yet you wanted to be outside. Here in the wilderness outside the gates.”

“There’s more to life than gardens and livestock. More than what I’ve seen in Albervalley. If I don’t see what’s out here, how can I know where I want to be?”

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet inclined her head.

“I don’t want anyone to take care of me.” Para smoothed out her cap. “All my life there has been someone to take care of me. Now it should be me. Right?”

Again, Ranger Lord Swiftfeet inclined her head, a slight smile softening the hard beauty of her face. “This I can do.”

Para smiled, and relief overpowered the anxiety.

_____________________________________

To be continued. Updates will be on hold until the release of my Victorian Romance ‘Releasing Yesterday’ in May.

For BACK EPISODES, navigate to the “book page” here: The Soul Cycle: Para.

This series is now being serialized on JukePop Serials, a free site. You can follow updates from any browser, or use their free app and receive updates in real-time. Also, each time you continue to the next episode, this story receives a “+vote” and you support me as a JukePop Serial author!

___________________________________________________

Author’s Note: The Soul Cycle started way back in November 2008 (for my first National Novel Writing Month venture) when I took one of my husband’s adventure module outlines–complete with maps and descriptions–and wrote life into Para and Mun, a pair of adventurers who had been traveling together for more than three years. The title: To Save A Soul.

The following year I wrote the continuation of that adventure, Silver and Iron, although it remains unfinished, and continued to brainstorm further adventures for my beloved Para and Mun. For the 2012 NaNoWriMo adventure, I wrote a prequel explaining Para Sedi and all her idiosyncrasies. I even began outlining Mun’s introductory novel, which would also include how he and Para first met.

The subject of this weekly serial will be Para & Mun’s story from their utter beginning.


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-Recruit-

“Just leave?” Para tightened her hand upon the satchel. How could she vanish without Phillip thinking the worst? Mostly the fact she hadn’t heard or seen him for so many days made her worry he might have thought she was gone or in trouble. She checked in with him almost every day. “But my friend—”

“Your friend travels his own path and you yours.” Shaeren shot her another look. “If he is your friend, he will know what you would say.”

Para wasn’t so certain, but as she regarded the lady ranger beside her, she could tell there would be no persuading a change of heart. “How does one become a ‘ranger lord’?” It sounded better than her goal of “guard captain”, definitely.

“We excel.”

Para’s eyebrow twitched upward. “Excel at what?”

“Everything.”

“Oh.” Maybe what she knew about archery and sword play wasn’t as awe-inspiring as she thought? “Have you been a ranger lord for a long time?”

“Long enough to become known.”

Confusion dipped her brows. “Known? To whom?”

“Those that matter.”

Para began to suspect that conversations with Ranger Lord Shaeren might prove even more difficult than conversations with Elena.

Shaeren met Para’s sidelong scrutiny, and that hard gaze sent any other questions straight from her head. “Questions will be asked and answered once we are on our way.”

Each word felt as if it were knocked into her head. Para nodded and smiled, scolding herself for successfully navigating her way to the hunter’s bad side. Did she want to be eaten the first night? No. So, she settled herself into the same brisk, long strides as the ranger lord hunter while trying to imitate just how she stepped in hopes she would learn how to walk so silently. She didn’t even make a crunch when stepping on loose pebbles.

How did one do that?

The closer they got to the city’s outer gates, the more often Para cast a quick glance over her shoulder for the other hunter–and for any sign of Phillip or one of his boys. Instead of Phillip, short and lanky Freddy with the white-blond hair and the eyes that saw without seeming like he saw anything faded in and out of her view. He was one of the best at slipping in and out of people’s blind side’s without effort. And even though he didn’t ever quite look in her direction, she still made the sign, palm down at her side, to let him know she was fine but leaving.

But Phillip was nowhere to be seen. It made her stomach feel like she got clobbered with a fencepost. In the past, Phillip always seemed to know when to show up at the right–or wrong–time to help her out of–or into–a bad situation. No, this wasn’t a “bad” situation, but she needed–or wanted–him to show up. Of course, if he did, he might get irritated that she was leaving and not giving him the details as to why and where and for how long—

Para pulled at her braid a couple of times to try and get her brain to quit going in circles. It didn’t help matters at all. What had Ranger Lord Shaeren said? If he were her friend, he would know what she would say? It was certainly better than the other possibility.

Near the gates, Shaeren slipped through the main crowd and came to a sudden halt. Para felt hard-pressed to keep from colliding with her.

She turned on her heel, her features taut and her eyes relentless. “From the mansion to where we now stand, what did you see?”

Familiarity invited a smile and a sense of ease–finally. Phillip and she played this game each day in the market square. Phillip called it “urban survival” for some reason. All she knew was that she wasn’t too bad at this game.

“There was a man in a crimson jacket and black pantaloons who is trying to make people think he still has coin to his name. His clothes aren’t as bright as they should have been, and the velvet is worn at the elbow. One of the guards in the market square has a new sword and scabbard, so he probably had a good night gambling this past week. Might have been last night, since he was clean shaven from the bath house.

“A new weapon smith opened up shop in the market square since last I saw, and the butcher shop is under new management–he changed the store sign. The jeweler was robbed recently because he hired a couple of mercenaries to stand guard, but they might have been the ones who robbed him in the first place because they’re in better weapons and armor than what they should be for mercenaries, and one of them wore a brooch on his cloak that I saw in the man’s store last month. I’m shocked he didn’t notice, the jeweler I mean.”

Shaeren held up her hand. “Good.”

“And?”

Para squeaked in surprise, clutching at the front of her leather vest as Wendall Longsight appeared from the shadows leading three, pale-brown horses. “How di—I mean, where did you come from?” And how did he get horses to walk like the shadows themselves?

Wendall offered Shaeren the reins of two of the three horses. The hunter Shaeren accepted, both ignoring Para’s question and almost pointedly disregarding her presence. “Observant. Instinctual.”

“You can build on that. Are the skills better than you first thought?”

“For a noble’s ward, yes, and evidently trained by a central-market thief.”

Both Shaeren and Wendall focused their attention to her for an almost painful moment. “Shadowleaf,” the said in unison.

Para could feel the word strike like a pellet from Alric’s favorite sling-shot. “Are you talking about me?”

Shaeren turned for the city gates. “Come along. We have much to do.”

Para didn’t hesitate to follow. Eagerness beat in her chest. “Mr. Longsight?”

“Ranger Lord Longsight,” Shaeren corrected.

“Ranger Lord Longsight?”

“Yes, Recruit Sedi?”

“Lord Henry said something about a fist. What is a fist?”

Ranger Lord Longsight’s eyebrow twitched, though Para couldn’t understand the reason for it. “You might consider a Fist a tribe or clan. Each region is home to a single Fist. Before you ask, I am Ranger Lord of the Fist residing near Albervalley. Meaning, I am the Fist Lord.”

“So, you’re like Lord Henry, but of your Fist?”

“Correct.”

“Interesting—”

Shaeren and Wendall brought her to a halt as the trio guided their horses from the city gates, completely ignoring the guards on each side.

He gripped Shaeren’s forearm and mounted his horse. “Good hunting.” Then he simply rode away.

Para blinked after him, trying not to admit she felt a little unsure at being alone with Ranger Lord Swiftfeet. She tried not to gulp when she noticed the lady hunter focused only on her and not on Ranger Lord Longsight’s exodus. “Yes, ma’am?”

“Ranger Lord Swiftfeet.”

“Ranger Lord Swiftfeet,” Para repeated.

She offered forward the reins. “We will walk and you will tell me what you see. Tonight, you will help make camp, by my instruction, and you will memorize the rules of your training.”

The only rule she had to remember when Phillip trained her was to not say anything stupid. “Yes, Ranger Lord Swiftfeet.”

Shaeren pulled a worn, hard leather book from one of her saddlebags. Her hold upon it paused before she shifted her focus and presented the book toward Para. “This was mine when I knew little or nothing. You know less, so you will study this each evening and morning. Beginning tomorrow, you will write your own book.”

Para accepted the token of knowledge, wide-eyed, fingers tracing the scars of use and runes of wisdom. “Yes, Ranger Lord Swiftfeet.”

Ranger Lord Swiftfeet covered the book with her hand, the long fingers enveloping Para’s with little effort. “Do not allow attachment. One day this will return to me, its rightful owner and, as I said, you will write your own.”

Crimson stained Para’s cheeks as she stammered and slipped the book carefully into her satchel. She would write her own book? The concept seemed more foreign than even the idea of becoming a hunter. “Where are we going?”

Shaeren gestured ahead, the slight motion encompassing the entire road leading from the city gates. When Para waited for more detail, she was met with silence. It hadn’t seemed a stupid question at the time. Para tugged her braid to keep from repeating the question with different words.

_____________________________________

To be continued. For BACK EPISODES, navigate to the “book page” here: The Soul Cycle: Para.

This series is now being serialized on JukePop Serials, a free site. You can follow updates from any browser, or use their free app and receive updates in real-time. Also, each time you continue to the next episode, this story receives a “+vote” and you support me as a JukePop Serial author!

___________________________________________________

Author’s Note: The Soul Cycle started way back in November 2008 (for my first National Novel Writing Month venture) when I took one of my husband’s adventure module outlines–complete with maps and descriptions–and wrote life into Para and Mun, a pair of adventurers who had been traveling together for more than three years. The title: To Save A Soul.

The following year I wrote the continuation of that adventure, Silver and Iron, although it remains unfinished, and continued to brainstorm further adventures for my beloved Para and Mun. For the 2012 NaNoWriMo adventure, I wrote a prequel explaining Para Sedi and all her idiosyncrasies. I even began outlining Mun’s introductory novel, which would also include how he and Para first met.

The subject of this weekly serial will be Para & Mun’s story from their utter beginning.


read more

With as often as I’ve moved over the last four years, one would hope I had it down to a science. Not so much as you would think, but almost. The thing is that I feel as if I’m stuck between two people fighting for control–over something you can’t control!

One part of me wants this whole moving endeavor to be done. Fin. Finito. And could you blame me? Of course not. All the packing and the stress and the coordinating and extra bills really does a job on a writer’s muse, to say nothing about the lack of writing space, the distracting chaos, and who knows what else.

The other part of me is the more rational and logical one. The one who sees the work left to be done and relishes the breadth of time before the deadline. It’s easier on my back, easier on my sanity, and–even though the Muse is not happy–it’s even easier on the already stressed Muse.

Getting out of the chaos of the partially-packed house has truly been a saving grace. Yes, it means getting up at 4:45 instead of 6:30, but I get more than an hour of writing time in at a quiet Starbucks near my work. That simple fact erases the potential stress of needing to find the time to get writing/editing done once I get home from work, eat, pack… and try not to cry.

After all is said and done there will be things to learn, things to praise, and things to hope never to do again…such as MOVE! But, even that, has another whisper in the future.

web-sig


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