WIP Chapter 1: Fallen Eagle

Black Eagle Rising, Writing

new world 1_2

“Finally!”
The sound of a voice managed to penetrate the cloud of gray depression surrounding Nika Finmoralyn. She opened her eyes.
“You are alive, right? And an officer?”
The voice belonged to a man in the uniform of the Eagle Guard, Clerical Division. Nika nodded and struggled to her feet, trying to shake off the bleakness. The best she could do was push it aside a bit, enough to let her speak.
“Lieutenant-General Nika Finmoralyn. What do you need?”
The man, wearing insignia that marked him a Captain of his Division, sighed with relief. “You’re in charge now, aren’t you. Good. Tell me what in blackened hell I’m supposed to do with the payroll! Please.”
The despair came back, and Nika sagged back onto the bench. It overlooked the garden in front of the barracks, which had once been a pleasant, refreshing sight. Now the plants were straggly, untrimmed, with weeds sprouting all through the flower beds.
“Do whatever you want with it,” Nika said. “I don’t care. There’s no one left to pay.”
“What are you saying?”
Nika made herself look at the payroll officer. “The Eagle has fallen.”
The man shook his head in denial. “The Dominion is forever!”
“No.” Nika shook her own head slowly. “No, it isn’t. There is no more Dominion. I… I was assigned to complete a survey, a census, of the city and surroundings. Nine out of every ten people from the last report have died. The Blue Death has destroyed the Dominion.”
“But there are still people living! We can recover from this.”
“No.” She shook her head again, more emphatically. “I returned this morning, just in time to witness the death of the last Shining One. The Eagle has fallen. The Dominion is no more.”
“The Shining Ones… are gone?”
That news broke through to the payroll officer, and he sagged into a crouch, head hanging.
Nika felt the same. The Shining Ones had led the Dominion ever since the beginning. Without them, the Golden Eagle Dominion was nothing, a name without a meaning. Nothing but a rapidly dimming memory, doomed to fade into the dust of history.
“Right,” the man said, lifting  his head. His face looked decades older than it had moments ago, haggard with sadness and despair. “The Shining Ones are gone. But we’re alive, you and I, and there’s a future ahead. It may not look like the future we’d expected, but I’m not going to lay down and give up. That’s not the Dominion way. Are you?”
Nika started to say yes. What did this world hold for her? Death. Everywhere. The city had suffered the worst, true, with nine out of every ten residents lost. But the Blue Death had chewed through the entire Dominion, nearly the whole known world, with a viciousness that left maybe a third of the world’s population alive, and it hadn’t finished yet. Who knew when the illness would run its course and leave humanity, whatever was left of it, to recover. The future looked unrelentingly bleak, and horrid. What point to living, when the force she stood second in command over had shrunk to less than a full division? She could take command, yes, because the true leader had fallen a week and more ago. But what was the point?
But then something stubborn, some little spark of life, flared up and Nika lifted her head higher. Officers in the elite Shining Home Division never gave up.
“Fine. No. I’m not going to lay down and die. But the Dominion is ended. I can see no future here, without the Shining Ones.”
“Good. Here’s what I propose. We can split the payroll between us, and use it to fund a future life. Go where you will, it won’t matter. I’ll record it properly in the books, no one will come hunting you as a thief. Is that a good plan for you?”
Nika shrugged. “Fine. I don’t care. Money is good.”
She followed the man out of the garden to a back gate into the Palace. A solidly built wagon stood there, drawn by a team of eight heavy draft horses. It held ten iron-bound lockboxes.
That’s the payroll?” Nika said, incredulity beating out depression for a moment. She even felt a tiny spark of greed, having decided to live.
“Yes. Drawn from the vaults just this morning, that’s the normal amount to pay the entire Eagle Guard, from the Shining Home to the farthest-flung shock troops.”
“Mother of Eagles. And you offered me half?”
The man nodded.
“It’s too much,” Nika decided, despite the spark of greed. “If I’m to head away and start a new life, I mean to really head away. Out of the Dominion. Leave the past behind.”
“Fine. I’ll wager you can still carry more than enough to succeed. Here, look.”
The payroll officer hopped onto the tailgate of the wagon and opened one of the boxes with a key from his belt pouch. Nika tried to see, discovered the wagon sides were too high. So she scrambled onto the wagon beside the man.
“Mother of Eagles,” she said again. The box contained eight bags made from scaly ogroid skin, one of the strongest leathers known to humankind. “How much is in there?”
“Each bag holds a hundred thousand tarkins.”
Nika could scarcely imagine that much wealth all in one place, even while looking at it. Her own generous pay amounted to two tarkins a month, and she was the second in command of the whole damned army! “A hundred… Damn! I never knew there was so much money in the entire Dominion.”
“There is,” the man nodded, pulling one of the bags free with a grunt. “Here.”
Nika took it. Heavy, seriously heavy. Right at the edge of her ability to lift. “That’ll do,” she said quickly, catching his arm before he could pull out another. She had to set the bag down before she could move.
“You sure? I mean,” and he gestured at the other bags, the unopened boxes. “There’s more than enough to share. And just think, this is only three months’ worth. There’s a whole lot more where this came from.”
A hundred thousand tarkins. She opened the bag, looked inside at the fat gold coins. “This is plenty. Thanks.”
“Suit yourself,” the payroll officer shrugged, closing and locking the box. “Anybody left alive inside?”
“About half a dozen from the Shining Home Guard. The rest have deserted, or been sent out to various places throughout the Dominion, to see if they can help before they die.”
“Think I’ll share some of this out, then. Out of your half.”
He grinned, and Nika smiled back. “Go right ahead. And good luck in your new life.”
“Same to you.”
Nika picked up the bag and slung it over her shoulder. Why not, it didn’t weigh as much as a fallen comrade would, not that she’d been in the field recently. She staggered a little, shifted the load for balance, then started towards the stables at a slow, steady pace.
Started being the key word. She had to rest five times between the wagon and the stables. Not only was the bag beastly heavy, but the air was still thick with the smells of smoke and death, along with more ordinary stinks from garbage left uncollected and horseshit left to pile up on the streets. There was even a pyre out in front of the Shining Home Palace itself, watched over by a single gray-robed monk.
Yes, the Golden Eagle had truly fallen.

A Note About Black Eagle Rising:

Writing

I’m working on a project combining both writing and art called Black Eagle Rising. It’s a work in progress in more ways than one. Not only is the text subject to editing and revision, but so are the images, and even the format, because I’ve got no clue what I’m doing. I only know that I’ve been wanting to combine text and images together somehow, but I don’t want to do a graphic novel (I suck horribly at those), and I don’t want to do a traditional illustrated story. I’ve wanted to do this for years now, and finally decided to just do it, and figure it out as I go.

So there you have it. This story will be available here and on deviantArt. And as far as I know, it’ll remain online, and free. And one tiny word of warning: it starts out in a pretty bleak place, and I already know some of the story will be a bit dark. But not too horrible, because come on, I’m still me. 🙂

 

New Releases! …sort of.

Promo, Writing

Now that I’m healthy again, and have an epic amount of time off work, I’ve been shifting all my writings over to Amazon and their Kindle Unlimited thing. Today, I was exceptionally productive, and managed to re-release three short stories. Ghost Rider, Rescue, and Seeking Veritas are now all available for free through KU. Or, if you want, you can buy ’em. I don’t mind a bit.

Now Available on Kindle Unlimited: ME!

Writing

Okay, so it’s been four months since I switched over to putting my stuff on KU, and I’m only just getting around to telling people about it. What can I say? (See the last post I made if you’re really curious, called Not Dead Yet.) Better late than never, right?

I currently have eleven of the little buggers–er, I mean, eleven novels–available through Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. No, I still don’t care for their terms, and feel mildly grumpy when I think about it. But honestly, it really is worth a shot, especially since that’s where a whole heck of a lot of readers have gone.

There will be more coming available… sometime. I noticed some of the covers are pissing me off again, so I’ll have to make new ones.

So here’s the obligatory link, of course:

Marie Brown’s Books

Promo: Elizabeth Coldwell, Guest Author

Promo, Writing

Casting A Love Spell

by Elizabeth Coldwell

 

At the heart of Careful What You Wish For, my story in the Myths, Moons and Mayhem anthology, is a love spell. I don’t remember how the idea first came to me (it’s been a while since I wrote the original version of the story) but it arrived pretty much fully formed, and I knew that I had to create a convincing-sounding spell for Josh, the narrator of the story, to recite.

Josh is trying to conjure up his ideal man, and while the kind of online site offering to provide a love spell that will work immediately wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of those who are serious about paganism and wicca, their examples worked for my purposes. As well as the right words, Josh needs certain items to make the spell work – two red roses and a lock of his own hair, tied with red ribbon. Most importantly, he has to perform the ritual “skyclad”, or naked. This isn’t a prerequisite for all magical rituals, but when you’re writing an erotic story, it’s always good to find an excuse for your characters to strip off.

The spell I came up with for Josh is:

A perfect man I summon here
Bringing love to hold so dear
Make our brother see the light
Bring to him his Mr. Right

To his surprise, and that of his roommate Aaron, who’s suggested casting the spell, it brings his dream lover to life. Of course, something like that wouldn’t work in the real world – unless you know better…

MMM Blog Tour Graphic

Excerpt from “Careful What You Wish For” by Elizabeth Coldwell in Myths, Moons, and Mayhem

About “Careful What You Wish For”: Josh dreams of meeting Mr. Right, so his roommate offers help with a love spell. Neither man is prepared for what happens when the spell begins to work.

“Okay, now we’re going to need a lock of your hair,” Aaron said.

“Are you sure about this?” I asked, thinking back to stories I’d read about zombie curses and voodoo dolls. Didn’t you need the hair of the victim for making something like that? Suddenly everything was getting a little too serious for my liking.

“It’s just a bit of harmless fun. Nothing’s going to go wrong, I promise, Josh.”

He’d told me to trust him, and I knew I had to, if we were going to have any success at all. Aaron handed me the scissors and I snipped off a little of my dirty-blond hair, taking it from a spot close to the nape of my neck where it wouldn’t be noticed. Aaron produced a length of red ribbon and tied it round the lock of hair, then placed it in the circle, next to the roses.

“Is that it?” I said.

He shook his head. “One last thing before we start. You have to undress.”

 

About Elizabeth Coldwell

Elizabeth Coldwell is a multi-published author and the former editor of the UK edition of Forum magazine. She was the launch editor of Erotic Stories magazine and one of the co-founders of the Guild of Erotic Authors. She is now an editor at Xcite Books. Find her online at The (Really) Naughty Corner.

 

Promo: Myths, Moons, & Mayhem

Promo, Writing

Myths, Moons & Mayhem

Blog tour and giveaway, Oct 13–Oct. 31

MythsMoonsMayhem-ebookcover_opt copy

Title: Myths, Moons & Mayhem
Editor: Dale Cameron Lowry
Authors: Rebecca Buchanan, Elizabeth Coldwell, Rhidian Brenig Jones, Morgan Elektra, Greg Kosebjorn, Clare London, Dale Cameron Lowry, Carl Redlum, Rob Rosen
Publisher: Sexy Little Pages
Genres: anthology, paranormal, menage, LGBT, MMM romance, MMM erotica
Date of Publication: Oct. 13
Length: 194 pages
ISBN: 9781386972891 (ebook); 978-1977763518 (print)
ASIN: B07654NZQ2
Universal ebook Link: https://books2read.com/mythsmoons
Amazon universal link (paperback): http://getBook.at/mmm
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36368999-myths-moons-and-mayhem
More information: https://dalecameronlowry.com/books/myths-moons-mayhem/

Myths, moons, and mayhem make the perfect threesome—and so do the men in this anthology.
Enjoy nine erotic stories of paranormal ménages a trois fueled by lust and magic, where mystical forces collide with the everyday world and even monsters have their own demons to conquer.
A werewolf gets a lust-fueled lesson on fitting in with the pack, a professor unlocks ancient secrets and two men’s hearts, and a pair of supernaturals find themselves at the erotic mercy of a remarkable human. Ghosts, fairies, aliens, and mere mortals test the boundaries of their desires, creating magic of their own.
Penned by favorite authors such as Rob Rosen and Clare London, as well as by newcomers to the genre, Myths, Moons & Mayhem is an eclectic mix of paranormal lust and polymythic beings that will spark your fantasies and fuel your bonfires.

Inside Man by Clare London—At a London pub, a tear in the veil between the dead and living opens up new possibilities for a ghost who could only ever watch the men he desired, but never touch.
The Secret of the Golden Cup by Rebecca Buchanan—A classics professor finds himself at the center of a magical war. With an unfairly attractive student and a campus janitor as his only allies, can he stave off the forces of evil?
When The Big Moon Shines by Carl Redlum—A college student is intent on hunting down the man who turned him into a werewolf. But his mouthwatering neighbors keep getting in the way.
Careful What You Wish For by Elizabeth Coldwell—Josh dreams of meeting Mr. Right, so his roommate offers help with a love spell. Neither man is prepared for what happens when the spell begins to work.
The Cave by Dale Cameron Lowry—Losing sleep to the sounds of his tent-neighbors’ nightly lovemaking has nature photographer Ethan at his wit’s end. What kind of magic can convince the two men he should join them?
The Endless Knot by Morgan Elektra—The fiery romance between a vampire and a werewolf threatens to burn itself to the ground until a human teaches them to temper the flame.
Squatchin’ by Greg Kosebjorn—Two Bigfoot hunters get more than they bargained for when they set out on an overnight camping trip to trail the legendary beast.
Celyn’s Tale by Rhidian Brenig Jones—A young Welsh farmer is haunted by visions of his future lover, only to discover that the lover is not one, but two—and not exactly human, either.
Close Encounter of the Three-way Kind by Rob Rosen—In this quirky comedy, aliens arrive from another galaxy, but they’re more interested in consensual exploration than invasion. Alien probing never felt so good!

Giveaway

mmmgiveaway4

To celebrate the release of the paranormal gay ménage anthology Myths, Moons & Mayhem, Dale Cameron Lowry is giving away a bunch of paranormal and ménage ebooks for your reading pleasure. Prizes include:

  • Chance & Possibility: Seven Fantastical Tales of Gay Desire, an eclectic selection of Dale’s previously published paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi stories. Chance & Possibility isn’t available to buy anywhere.
  • Pacific Rimming, a contemporary novelette about a middle-aged gay married couple who fall in love with a younger man while vacationing on Canada’s Vancouver Island
  • Love Unmasked, the story of a gay man who’s unlucky in love because, once in a blue moon, he turns into a raccoon.

Enter to win here. (https://dalecameronlowry.com/mmm-giveaway/)

About the Editor

Dale Cameron Lowry’s number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies. Find out more at dalecameronlowry.com .

A New Project Is Coming

Writing

As if I don’t have enough stuff going on in my life.

Some of you may have read my free short story, Love Revisited. Some of you may also have cussed, hollered, and flipped me the bird when the story ended abruptly and I wrote a note saying I’d ended it there because the story’s about to take a turn for the weirder and I wanted to give people who like plain old Earthly fiction a safe jumping off point before all the science-fictiony weirdness began.

Now, I’ve known all along the next several scenes of the story, and the ending, and had a pretty good idea what’s going to happen to get to the end scene. There’ll be lots of explody goodness. But I couldn’t figure out whether or not the story fit into a larger universe.

Well, it does.

And thanks to everything finally coming together in my head, I’m going to start a new project, one that will incorporate that older short story as a bit of itself.

Some people may even cuss at me more, now, because the scifi/fantasy/mundane stories in this new project aren’t going to be free. Sorry. But while it’s true I’m not likely to become a billionaire off my ebook sales, it’s also true that I’m not getting any closer to retirement by giving away thousands of copies of my stories for free.

Anyway, anybody that follows me on Facebook already knows this, but I’ll say it again. The new project will involve:

  • Aliens!
  • Science fiction!
  • Magic!
  • Contemporary, distant past, and future Earth!
  • Time and dimensional travel!
  • and a whole lot of insanity, ’cause it’s me.

So wish me luck. I’m hoping to get started soon, but realistically, I’m still having a fight to the death with Firestorm. (Did I mention the blasted thing has become a three book series now? No? Well, it has.) The real, actual plan involves finishing that monster sequel-turned-series, setting it loose in the world, then seriously buckling down on the new project for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. It will be a definite change for me, involving linked short stories and novellas, rather than the epic huge novel-monsters I’ve been writing lately.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled weekend chaos.

Worldbuilding 101: The Basics

Writing

Worldbuilding. It’s an enormous topic, and there’s no way any blog, course, book, lecture, or anything else can ever cover all of it. But I’ve wanted to take the subject on for a while now, so come on. Join me. Let’s do this. Let’s create some worlds.

There is no single way to build a world. No right, no wrong, no absolute guidelines guaranteed to give you a perfect world that everyone will love.

There are, however, assorted tricks and techniques that can help. And I’ve noticed that I do it differently from a lot of writers out there, so I figured what the heck, I might as well share some of my techniques in case there’s other people who can do things my way.

So. Here we are. There’s nothing yet, no story, not even a genre. Just an idea: I want to make a new world to play in. 

When I start making a world, the first thing I do is kick back and relax. Put my feet up. Close my eyes. Check to make sure no cats are on my keyboard, then close my eyes again.

Now, world.

I’m getting a sci-fi sort of feeling, so there’s my start. Sci-fi. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll make it a standalone, apart from any of my pre-existing stuff.

It has pretty colors. Okay, there’s a detail I can work with. This world has an advanced, tech-based society, and… they love nature, because this particular planet has–oh, my, where’d that come from? It has sprawling, silvery blue forests, and huge, dramatic, pastel cliffs.

See? That’s easy, isn’t it?

Worldbuilding used to be my biggest weakness. Now I enjoy the hell out of it. See why? Sit back and relax for a minute or two, and suddenly there’s a framework to build on.

And it has five moons.

So. I promised tips and tricks. I just gave you a brief glimpse of how I generate worlds, at least from scratch. The ones that come after the story or characters appear develop differently.

My first tip: don’t limit yourself. If you have a stupid idea, try giving it a shot anyway. Doing things my way, by brainstorming and daydreaming, can transform a stupid idea into something cool.

Once you’ve got your world, it’s time to get busy on the details. But I’m saving those for later, ’cause there’s tons of them. Lots more blog posts, just waiting to happen.

Huh. Guess this world has dramatic weather events, and the architecture people build reflects that.

There’s another tip for you: let your subconscious have fun. If you start getting stressed out, relax, quit worrying about it. This isn’t half so hard as you think. You have endless capacity for world generation. So let ’em out to play!

Anybody got the seed of a world now? Want to share it in the comments? I’d love to see what you come up with!

PS: This world is much larger than Earth, spins faster but still has a longer day, and has a small ring system.

Okay, brain. That’s enough for now. Save it for next week.

Oh, That Muse…

Random, Writing

A lot of creative people have a muse. Dictionary.com defines muse as the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like. Pretty fair definition, I’d say.

Some people are lucky enough to have a real person as their muse, but I’m not. Some people find inspiration in a photo, or a piece of art, or a place, or even a cat. I don’t.

Of course not. I can’t possibly be normal, have something so mundane as a muse I could look at, talk to, interact with. Nope. Not happening.

Instead, I get a nebulous and temperamental voice in my head. Well, sort of a voice. That’s the easiest way to think of it, even though it makes me sound completely insane. Sometimes this ephemeral muse is kind to me and showers me with ideas. Other times, like in recent months, my muse shuts the hell up and won’t say anything at all, even under threat of violence. Which, let me tell you, makes me feel real adult and rational, threatening to kick the shit out of something that doesn’t even exist.

I’ve been thinking about this temperamental muse of mine a lot lately, wondering what its problem is. (His problem? The bugger’s cranky enough to be a male.) And… it keeps coming back to the same thing: the real world.

See, my muse went on a long hiatus once before. It began on September 11, 2001, and lasted for a really long time. I went from writing and creating 3D art all the time, pretty much non-stop, to just barely creating anything at all. Because after what happened, writing smutty, slashy fanfiction just seemed so unimportant and trivial, it wasn’t even worth it.

But a good muse won’t be kept down, and mine eventually recovered. It started presenting me with idea after idea–you should see my WIP file–and helping me fill my online galleries with art.

And then… political bullshit happened.

Leaving my muse all sorts of pouty and unhappy, barely willing to toss out a half-hearted idea every now and again.

Idiots running my country, bills growing larger than my income can support, bigots and assholes partying in the streets… What place for creativity in all that? Why bother? Why not go crawl under a rock and hide, don’t worry about writing queer fiction or blog posts, don’t bother producing pretty pictures in a world full of ugly…

Yeah, whatever. That’s a line of crap I’m not going to buy into. Because I’m not going to let this stupid world get me down. I will feed my muse with Dr. Pepper (the real sugar kind) and pizza until it cheers up, and I will keep right on writing and making 3D art.

It’s harder now than it should be, yeah. But it feels like not writing is letting the jerks of the world win, somehow. Like allowing the stupidity of others to keep me from creating art or writing is just giving up and letting “them” win.

So screw “them.”

If nothing else, at least I can create beautiful worlds where bigots and assholes get run over by steam-powered freight trains or blown up by colossal fireballs. That’s the beauty of being a writer, after all.