Have you tried Canva for book covers?

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I made this for free with Canva.com. They have a really cool section with ALL book cover templates, even ones specified to Wattpad and it’s great quality text and whatnot for FREE! Look at that, 50,000 templates!

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Check out some of the Wattpad specific covers:

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Seriously, how cool is this? Have you used this tool. If you have, feel free to let me know and share a link with your cover. Happy cover making!

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Read my ongoing, NA urban fantasy story for free on Wattpad: CORYN OF BELLSFERRY: BLOOD THIEVES.

“With long snaking roads enshrouded by dense woodland and only smatters of clarity along the rolling hills, the beautiful countryside of Bellsferry was the perfect place for predators to stalk.”

Coryn knows fate when she’s pricked by it–she thinks.

In a world where American law has been overthrown, and wanna-be supernatural, self-made vampires exist–who by the way, are really creepy and demented and have started preying on the small town of Bellsferry–there also exists Coryn, a twenty-three-year-old single mother who’s just trying to survive through life–and give her daughter a somewhat decent one. But when Coryn is taken under her gunslinging neighbors’ wings and something…otherworldly happens, forget decent; she and her daughter’s lives are now even more dangerous than before. Sigh. That’s what happens when you accidentally become the only real nemesis to the deranged psychopaths who have iron-gripped your hometown.

Since before the demolition of law, Coryn grew up surviving through life, but now she has to protect not only herself and her seven-year-old daughter, but their entire town–doesn’t she?

 

Coryn of Bellsferry: Blood Thieves -Chapter 5: Unexpected Guests

Hunter aesthetic! 

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Coryn Aesthetic!

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Chapter 5 of Coryn of Bellsferry: Blood Thieves is here! Check it out on Wattpad!

“I shivered, despite the summer heat. What if something happened to me? What if the Blood Thieves got to me? What would that do to my daughter, losing the person closest to her? She barely knew Gunner and Dixie. She’d be devastated and scared, and the security and joy of her childhood bubble would burst and she’d be thrown into the dark, confusing maze of this dangerous world. Death was banging on all of our doors, especially mine and Krista’s, and who knew when it’d break through and seize its loot. It could happen tonight…”-from chapter 5

Chapter vibes:

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Coryn Aesthetic!

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SYNOPSIS TIME!

“With long snaking roads enshrouded by dense woodland and only smatters of clarity along the rolling hills, the beautiful countryside of Bellsferry was the perfect place for predators to stalk.” Coryn knows fate when she’s pricked by it–she thinks.

In a world where American law has been overthrown, and wanna-be supernatural, self-made vampires exist–who by the way, are really creepy and demented and have started preying on the small town of Bellsferry–there also exists Coryn, a twenty-three-year-old single mother who’s just trying to survive through life–and give her daughter a somewhat decent one. But when Coryn is taken under her gunslinging neighbors’ wings and something…otherworldly happens, forget decent; she and her daughter’s lives are now even more dangerous than before. Sigh. That’s what happens when you accidentally become the only real nemesis to the deranged psychopaths who have iron-gripped your hometown.

Since before the demolition of law, Coryn grew up surviving through life, but now she has to protect not only herself and her seven-year-old daughter, but their entire town–doesn’t she?

 

Have you been following along? If so, what are your thoughts so far? Got a WIP you’re working on? Are you on Wattpad? Let me know! Happy reading! -Natasha

What is it about a book’s first page that keeps you reading?

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I’m curious:

What is it about a book’s first page that keeps you flipping?

Are you able to share an example of a book whose first page just grabbed you and held on until the last page? I want to know what book did that for you and why. Then I can go Amazon-“Look inside”-stalk and see if I agree with you or not. 😉 Happy discussing!

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Killing Your Characters

So killing off characters in your story: is it fun for you, or torture?

I’ve been on both sides of this fence, and I can say that now, it’s leaning toward more fun. For me, there’s something about the shock of it, the later oh-so-hoped for justice, the real-ness it adds to the danger and the story in general, and of course, the emotions it stirs. But what say you? I wanna know your reasons as to why you enjoy killing characters in your story, or why you hate it. Let the discussion begin!

FANTASY FRIDAY: “Eldin’s Confession” – THROUGH ELISENA’S EYES PART 2, CHAPTER 5 (SHORT STORY)

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Read the previous chapters: Part 1, Chapters 1-2; Part 1, Chapters 3-4; Part 2, Chapter 1; Part 2, Chapter 2; Part 2, Chapter 3; Part 2, Chapter 4

The blare of trumpets harmonizing with rapid strings and jittery jingles overpowered the corridor leading to the Banquet Hall. With my umbrella open and ready to deflect, my anticlimactic purple dress, and my annoying older brother at my side, I wouldn’t fail to make a miserable entrance at the celebration. With my fate lately, I won’t be shocked to walk in and accidentally collide into Prince Nuelle, poking him in the eye with my umbrella.

“Nothing like a grand festivity to try and distract prodigies from the academy’s new threat.” Javin stalked beside me in muddy Servants’ attire.

“You’re being overdramatic.”

“Oh right, because the lunatic wall-burner only threatened Prince Nuelle so the rest of us are fine. Elly, this is the kind of person who clearly fears no one.”

As we reached the Banquet hall’s large, circular entry, I raised my voice over the loud music. “If this prodigy was so brave, why not make the threat to Prince Nuelle’s face?”

We stepped inside the crowded room with an array of both fancily

and casually dressed prodigies. A short, leather-dressed girl dodged my umbrella. “Good point! But my guess is that whoever this servant is, building up fear was the goal, you know like”—she deepened her voice and added some rasp—“‘I’m like a shadow ready to sneak up on you and attack when you least expect it.”

“See,” I said, “to me, that’s even more cowardly. If this vandal would opt for a surprise attack rather than an open duel, he’s weaker than his swelling words suggest.”

“He?” The girl glided beneath the covering of my umbrella and situated herself too close. “How do you know it isn’t a she?”

I eyed her while my heart-rate spiked. As Javin slowly wrapped his arm around my waist, I began tilting my umbrella. If I can read this strange girl’s heart, what would I discover? Could this unassuming shrub actually be the creep behind the treacherous message burned into the wall of the commons? My grip moistened on my umbrella stick. I planted my feet as firmly as I could to brace myself for the onslaught of emotions about to trample me.

Short-stuff broke into a shrill cackle. “I’m just yanking your umbrella, sweetcake. Enjoy the celebration!” She wiggled her hips as she weaved her way through the crowd in front of us.

Javin released my waist. “Fortunate for her. I was preparing myself to strike a lady for the first time.”

I straightened my umbrella as my heartbeat calmed slightly. “For once, I’m thankful for your overprotectiveness.”

“Be slow to speak, sister.” He quickly grabbed my waist again as Eldin approached from ahead. My heart jumped back into high gear. Wearing a gray, woolen cloak with silver clasp, opened at the right shoulder, neatly draped over a tightly fitted black tunic, and his brown hair brushed back, exposing more of his flawless daystar-kissed face, I was unsure if my heart raced because of his masculine beauty or because of what Thrine accused him of. 

He stopped in front of us, a shy smile on his thick lips. “Good to see you.” Smile evaporating, he looked at Javin. “And you.”

“I would say likewise, but that’d be a lie.” I gaped at my own words—though only seventy-five percent true.

As Eldin’s forehead creased and mouth frowned, Javin growled, “Whoa, whoa. Did this lump of graether dung do something to you?”

“Not to me.”

Eldin lifted his palms as if trying to ward off ever-increasing violent waves. “If you mean what happened with Thrine and I—”

“I’d rather not hear the details of your”—the words burned like acid in my throat—“intimate times so spare me.”

“What?” He and Javin echoed.

“I don’t want to talk to you. I just want to see Prince Nuelle.”

The music’s swift drumming hastened toward a climactic finale. Eldin’s voice loudened. “He hasn’t arrived yet.”

Javin shook his head. “Late to a celebration being held in his honor. What a high-headed weemutt.”

I frowned as I scanned the prodigies. Some danced merrily and others conversed with tight faces and nervous glances—no doubt confused by the unannounced royal arrival and concerned over the personal threat. And now he had yet to show to his celebration?

“Do you think he’s okay?” I asked Javin.

“Yeah, he probably isn’t gonna come because of embarrassment over the disrespectful display in the commons. Show us lowers he’s too good for us.”

I rubbed my sleek umbrella stick with a moist thumb. From what I’d read about him and the Supreme King, he didn’t seem like the type to render dishonor for dishonor. But maybe he was just unpacking still, or handling some sort of business with the Overseer.

“Can we please talk?” Eldin focused his gleaming purple eyes on me.

Javin moved his hand from my waist to my shoulder. “She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to chat with you so you’d better dance off.”

“You won’t at least hear my side? Come on, Elisena. You’ve only just met Thrine, but we’ve known each other for as long as we can remember.”

I pursed my lips. Holding his hypnotic stare weakened me. And his words were true…I got so riled over everything his romantic companion said, I didn’t think to consider he should also be heard before making my final verdict. I sighed. “Javin, can you excuse us?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Papa-twin.”

Slowly, Javin removed his arm from my shoulder and then pointed a finger beneath Eldin’s chin. “If you try anything—”

“You’ll tear me to pieces like a hungry Massadon, I get it.”

“Good.” Javin barked, but Eldin just eyed him as he marched away and disappeared behind a group of lanky brunettes.

“Can we go out on the courtyard?” Eldin asked.

I squeezed my umbrella, slipping in my sweaty grasp. “Fine.”

He walked past and led me back out of the circular entryway. When we reached the commons, a hunched, white-haired caretaker stood in front of the cobblestone fireplace, sanding the burned markings above it with an iron flathead. The creepy message still shown deafeningly clear: Disappear like you brother, Supreme Prince. I shivered.

“After you.” Eldin held open the terrace door to the left.

I hurried outside into the silvery night. Round, basket-weaved couches littered a courtyard spattered with indigo blossoms and floating, wooden lanterns. As we meandered to a couch midway in, I boldly asked, “Where’s Thrine?”

“Last time I saw her, she was kissing a pasty boy with black hair by the buffet line.”

Something pinched my heart while we sat. She seemed like the vengeful type. I guess it’s safe to say their relationship is over. I peered at Eldin. “But how much of that was your fault?”

He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs. “I guess a decent amount.”

Thrine’s words taunted: Unlike Eldin, I’m not here to hurt you, I’m here to help you…By sharing with you what I wish one of Eldin’s victims shared with me before I let him become my suitor. I flinched.

Eldin quickly straightened. “What is it?”

I twirled my umbrella, wanting desperately to close it, both so I could read his heart and utilize it for self-defense if needed.

“What did she tell you?”

I hesitated, forcing myself not to scoot away from him in case it’d set him off. “That you bedded her, and had other victims.”

He coughed out a huff. “She’s always been an elaborate storyteller. Something I foolishly chose to overlook.”

“Why? Because she’s so beautiful you couldn’t keep your hands off of her?” I clenched my jaw as Eldin laid his gaze on me. 

The evening star’s glow shined off of his glassy eyes, hurt…disappointed. “It was our one year anniversary. I’d surprised her by coming to Athdonia to visit. She looked different. She used to have hair down to her hips, but she’d cropped it short and her attire was…more revealing.” He eased forward and set his elbows on his thighs again, staring out into the orange forest in the distance. “That’s when she told me to start calling her Thrine instead of Emmer. When I asked why, she gave me some story about this incredible group of people she’d befriended. How high their thoughts were. How they held these new ideas and views she’d never considered before and how it ‘enthralled’ her. Every time I asked if I could meet one of these new companions, she’d make up an excuse.” He shook his head. “I knew she was hiding them for a reason, but I didn’t want to disrespect her by pushing so I backed off. And then…”

I followed his gaze on the wood ahead and then casually tilted my umbrella to the right. The searing itch of regret radiating from him burned my skin. I bit my lip and focused hard on a dense darkwood whose curling vines swayed softly in the wind.

Eldin fidgeted and massaged his hands. “It was my fifth night there. For her father’s birthday her parents held a grand outdoor banquet in their crescent garden. I don’t drink, but Thrine insisted I have one. I didn’t know that one dragon brew would be as strong as it was. We danced a lot and Thrine got more and more…affectionate. It was another new side of her. At first I tried to evade her touches, offering to go for some dessert, but then she pulled me away from all the music and took me to her bedchamber.”

A heavy weight dropped onto my chest like a sack of stones, making me hunch as he continued his confession.

“It felt so wrong being there, but with the dragon brew fuming in my blood, every caress from her set me on fire and it became harder and harder to fight.” He sighed. “The next morning I just couldn’t do it again. Thrine got upset. She said she thought I loved her. And I did, and that’s why I didn’t want to continue. I stayed four more days and didn’t even kiss her. And that’s probably when she started loathing me.”

Leaning my umbrella back, I looked at him. “So you’re telling me you were never intimate again?”

“Correct.”

“And there weren’t other—”

“‘Victims’?” He chuckled sadly. “No.”

The soft warmth of truth rubbed my shoulders, though hurt’s heaviness continued weighing them down. I straightened my umbrella and exhaled as the weight lifted and searing stopped. “Thrine is an elaborate storyteller.”

Eldin sat upright. “You didn’t read her heart?”

“No, regretfully, though it was probably best. I got to hear the whole truth from you.”

He smiled, but it quickly faded. “But I still took a girl’s honor, Elisena. I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

I switched my umbrella to my left hand to give the right a rest. “I think you more…received it.” I managed to smile. “I’m just impressed you were able to resist her afterwards.”

“Ah, well, a sober mind and sour guilt will do that to you.”

“And love.” My heart hung in my chest. “You said because you loved her you wanted to stop. So then, you must have planned on marrying her someday.”

His eyes narrowed as he smirked. “You reading my heart?”

My cheeks warmed. “Not at the moment.”

“So you were reading it before?”

I readjusted my eyes to the forest.

“I knew I felt something in my chest,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to know the truth.”

“It’s okay. I would’ve probably done the same.”

From my peripherals, I could see him staring at me. Willingly yet unwillingly, I turned my head and held his consuming gaze.

“Thrine was no longer the woman I fell in love with. I waited and prayed every night for another year because I wanted to make it work, to fight for her, but it seemed the more I did, the worse she became. She wouldn’t respect my boundaries and never gave up trying to be intimate with me again. It’s why I chose to stay away for as long as I could. But I knew I’d have to face her at the academy and after getting here, I finally had enough.”

I lowered my gaze as guilt pricked my own heart. “The things you said to me during Courtship…in front of her…”

He nodded. “I’d just had an argument with her after I told her I didn’t want to be with her anymore and she brushed it aside, insisting we speak about it later. So I let my anger get the better of me, and I apologize for that.”

Now a sharp pang slashed my chest. “So then you didn’t mean it?”

His eyes widened. “Yes, I mean no, no I did.”

I blinked at him, not sure if I followed correctly. 

“I did mean what I said, even though it was the wrong time to say it.”

Hot waves rushed over my heart as it banged against my skin, making

my head light. So then Eldin does like me? I only dreamed of this kind of reality, but never imagined it’d actually come true one day. He wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, but his heart was so pure, so noble. Eldin Lightsmith would be the dream husband I’d be beyond blessed to have, but…I peered over my shoulder at the Servants’ Lodge where somewhere within, the Supreme King’s son roamed. History was made today: as far as I know, no one of royalty ever attended the academy. And this wasn’t one of the five princes of the lesser kingdoms, this was one of the greater princes. It was only his first day and already, he’d made an enemy. And here I’ve been seeking my purpose in life, wondering why King Nifal made me and gave me this bizarre gift, and then I receive his invitation to this institution. My gaze returned to Eldin, still watching me closely, studying me. My heart leaned toward him, but the academy tugged it back.

Tears filled my eyes. “Before I came to this place, you were the most I ever wanted. But now that I’m here, I think there’s something I want more.”

He spoke with a gentle strength. “Everything in me still wants to fight for you…Should I?”

“I don’t know.” 

As he continued to peer at me, my heart tore in half. The pain rained down on me like hail; cold, rapid, and hard. Unable to bear witnessing his hurt any longer and layered atop mine, I rose from the couch. “Farewell, Eldin.” I turned as fast as I could and jogged across the courtyard, carrying the pain and leaving the love of my life behind me.

Fantasy Friday! “Welcome to Knight’s Elect Academy” – Through Elisena’s Eyes Part 2, Ch 1 (Short Story)

Click here to read Part 1 if you haven’t already!

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Chapter One

 

Just close your eyes, breathe, and shut out their hearts.

My hands trembled as I stood in the mass of prodigies walking toward the Servants’ Lodge entryway. The daystar rose above the orange forest surrounding me and Javin’s new home, exposing the happy, excited demeanors of my peers, but not their innermost feelings—fear, awe, uncertainty. Every heart’s true emotions scratched against my skin like an old rope.

I reached for the umbrella clipped to my back by my waist-belt while Javin gave me an understanding nod, a few pink feathers falling from his matted tresses. Besides his leather Servant’s tunic and pants, he appeared more like a lost nomad rather than a fellow prodigy at Knights’ Elect Academy. I smiled as I opened my umbrella. Maybe next to him I won’t look so odd. 

An elegant red-head and her identical twin sized me up before whispering to one another and laughing. Well, at least they notice me.

“Elisena!”

Oh no. Even though my umbrella’s invisible force-field blocked out all the feelings and thoughts streaming from the surrounding prodigies, it couldn’t stop my own heart from jolting, stopping, and then racing seemingly all at once.

Eldin walked toward me, a smile on his perfect lips. Nearly every girl he passed trailed him with their eyes. He stopped in front of me and then glanced at Javin. “Hi.”

Javin growled like a graether and then wrapped his arm around me.

I shrugged it off. “Hi.”

“What are you doing here?”

“What are we doing here.” Javin hugged me again.

I glared at him. “If you don’t take your arm off me, I’ll tell that pretty blonde you were staring at a few minutes ago exactly what you were thinking about her.”

Now Javin glowered as he released me.

Eldin’s purple eyes widened slightly. “So that’s your prodigious gift? You can…read minds?”

I slowly twirled my umbrella. “Not minds…”

His olive skin paled. “Well, uh, I have to get going, you know, eat, figure out where my first lesson is and all of that. Fair day.” He turned around and strode toward the lodge’s crumbling steps.

My cheeks burned. I wish I didn’t have my umbrella open. As Eldin walked through the open door and disappeared, I bowed my head. Or maybe I do.

“I don’t know what you see in him.” Javin extended his arm, a mossy scent emanating from him. As a twirlwing swirled down like a green cyclone and landed atop his hand, its big eyes incongruent with its tiny beak, Javin looked at me. “Actually, what do you see in him?”

“That is none of your concern.” I marched forward, gripping my umbrella while more of my peers whispered and laughed—mostly at me, but some at Javin. I came to the academy to discover my purpose, but instead, I find my past.

“It is my concern.” Javin strode beside me. “Especially without Father around. But, I’ll let it go…for now.” He set the fluffy-feathered twirlwing atop his head, adding more colorful feathers to his messy hair, and then opened his satchel and removed a scroll. After unraveling it he said, “I have Wisdom for first lesson. Third floor, Hall of Sage. What do you have?”

“I don’t know.” I walked up the dilapidated steps to the porch and then onward through the open doorway. Prodigies stepped aside to make room for me and my umbrella. An auburn haired boy tried to poke it. Javin hissed at him, and the twirlwing spun off Javin’s head and in front of the boy’s face. He recoiled and ran off.

The wide Main Hall opened up to a commons crowded with barrels of pink water and roughly patched couches. A wall-high cobblestone and wood fireplace stood against the center wall, three gray stone platforms on either side of it. I veered to the right where all the other prodigies traversed into a circular entryway leading into a banquet hall.

As Javin followed me inside, the aroma of fresh-baked bread greeted me. Prodigies/Servants sat at multiple darkwood tables beneath the blue light of a massive chandelier. To the left, more prodigies stood in a line before floating platforms with apron-wearing women behind them, serving loaves of bread and stew. My stomach rumbled.

“I hope that stew is meatless,” Javin said. “I can eat like a vegetarian graether right now.”

“You do that.” I scurried to one of the only empty tables remaining, near a large risen platform in the back, and hurried into a chair. Mugs of water sat on the table. I grabbed one and guzzled, hoping it’d somewhat fill the void in my gut. Hopefully Javin wouldn’t hound me for skipping morning meal.

A green-haired girl carrying a tray with a bread loaf and steaming stew sat beside me. Her yellow eyes shined and she held her chest high. “Waiting on anyone?”

I shook my head, though Javin would probably pop up soon, and looked away.

“Nice umbrella. Not exactly a good choice if you’re trying to be invisible. Though I don’t think you really want to be, do you?”

My grip tightened on my umbrella’s bronze stick. Did she have a similar gift to mine, or was it just a discerning guess?

“Come on.” She smiled. “No one really wants to be alone. But I get it. You’re picky about the company you keep. That makes two of us.” She reached her hand out. “My name is Thrine.”

I shook it. “I’m—”

“Elisena.”

“So you can read minds or just know people when you see them?”

“No. Eldin Lightsmith told me about you.”

My stomach lurched. Thank Sovereignty she didn’t have a prophetic gift. “Oh. How do you know Eldin?”

“We met at the annual Royal Garden Gala two years ago. We’ve kept in touch ever since.”

“That’s a beautiful celebration.” I feigned casualty. “What did he say about me?”

“That he worked for your father.” She spooned a mouthful of stew, its savory scent making my hollow stomach ache. “And that you were the oddest person he’d ever known.”

I lifted my mug to my mouth and chugged. The oddest person he’d ever known? That explained the bewilderment ever-flowing from his heart whenever he was around me. But the last time he peered at me in Father’s barn it had changed to curiosity. Maybe he meant ‘odd’ in a good way. Unlike most people, he never avoided me. Well, not until today.

Emmer.” Eldin neared our table, carrying a tray of food. My heart hammered as he stood between me and the girl.

Thrine rose. “You mean—”

“Thrine, right. I apologize. I’m still getting used to it.”

“You will soon enough.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

I set my mug down with a trembling hand, my empty stomach twisting. Eldin glanced at me. He grasped Thrine’s wrists and removed them, breaking away from her kiss. She watched him as he set his tray down on the other side of her chair and sat. “So I see you met Elisena.”

Thrine eased into her seat. “She just so happened to sit at the table I told you to meet me at.”

“Small academy.” He bit into his bread.

Thrine scratched his back. “I’ve missed you. Can you believe it’s been eleven months since we last saw each other?”

He nodded. “It seems a lot has changed since then.”

She stopped scratching his back. Her narrowing eyes landed on me. “I hate to ask, but can you excuse us?”

“Uh, certainly.” I rushed to my feet.

“Welcome, Servants!” A silver-haired man with a protruding chin, wearing a cotton robe, stood on the risen platform beside a giant woman with black braids.

She wore a tunic dress with two calve-splits. “May everyone please take their seats.”

I looked around. Javin stood by a table near the entryway, brown liquid oozing down either side of his mouth as he waved me over. The pretty blonde occupied a seat next to him, while prodigies filled the others. Not a single seat remained. Torn between thankfulness and growing discomfort, I slowly sat beside Thrine again. She crossed her arms as the man continued. “My name is Overseer Enri, and this is the Assistant Overseer, Lady Bridie.”

The woman raised a large hand. “Fair day, prodigies.”

“Firstly, we would like to thank all of you for choosing to be apprentices here at King Nifal’s Knights’ Elect Academy. Each of you has been invited because of the prodigious gift you’ve been given by our Supreme King through your lineage.” He removed a small, silver tube from his robe pocket and spoke into it, his voice now amplified. “The foundation of knighthood is service. Throughout your first year, you will learn the principles of servanthood, along with basic combat and preservation. If you succeed, next year, you will move on to become Squires, and in your final year, you will be trained as Warriors and leave the academy as knights of the kingdom you’ve selected to serve and protect.” He handed Lady Bridie the tube.

“Now onto Ground Rules. The only time you are permitted to leave the grounds is for your end of the year three-month visit. Curfew is at the twenty-second hour. Common respect to your preceptors and peers is expected of you, and there is a guide of those expectations and the punishments for disobedience in your General Knight’s Guide found in your designated dormitory.”

I snuck a glance at Eldin. He quietly ate his meal, his stare fixed ahead on Lady Bridie. She handed the tube back to Overseer Enri.

“If you need assistance, my office is on the first floor in the Hall of Enri, and Lady Bridie’s is in the adjacent corridor, the Hall of Bridie. Again, welcome to Knights’ Elect Academy. We look forward to seeing you grow.” He slipped the tube back into his robe pocket and sped off of the platform, Lady Bridie running to keep up with him.

Thrine uncrossed her arms. “You can excuse yourself again.”

Eldin put his bread down. “You can be more respectful, Em—Thrine.”

“I apologize.” She spoke slowly and high-pitched. “Elisena, can you be so kind as to once again remove yourself from our table so that I may hold a private conversation with my suitor?”

Tears blurring my sight, I stood with my open umbrella and scurried to the circular entryway, ignoring the stares and laughs from my fellow prodigies. Eldin Lightsmith, the young man I’ve known since infancy, the one I grew to love and often prayed to someday have the honor of marrying is courting another girl.

Can this day get any more heart shattering?


Click here to read the next chapter!

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Fantasy Friday! “He Peered At Me” – Through Elisena’s Eyes (Short Story) : Part 1, Ch. 3-4

*Click here to read chapters 1-2 if you haven’t already.

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He Peered at Me

6th of the Days of Warmth

Distractions are harder to dust off than I’d previously planned. Especially when they are a handsome, hard-working, six-day-a-week presence. And when I’ve given so much thought and attention to them for so long. Too long.

Eldin was here today, working on the farm with Father and Javin as always. However, today was different. Very different. From the outside, no one would notice the change. But being able to see inside, changes happen more often than you think. Some for the better, others for the worst. Today, it was both.

Father prepared to collect chump—chewed grass made savory and nutritious by the saliva of gurns—from our oldest gurn, Magenta. She had apparently swallowed more than she could chew because before Father could grab the pail to catch the chump, Magenta vomited grass the size of her head onto his lap. He called in Eldin to catch whatever chump remained, then Father went inside to clean off.

Did I mention Father had me brush leakers from Magenta’s fur? I tried desperately to ignore Eldin’s heart by overly concentrating on scraping off a giant, oozing leaker from Magenta’s rear, but then the change happened.

The usual loyalty, diligence, joy, kindness, and compassion poured from Eldin’s heart in warm waves that ignited my mind with thoughts of King Nifal, but I realized the horrible feeling of pity wasn’t prickling my skin. Sadness hung, heavy in the air. But bewilderment changed to curiosity. And then reality slapped me in the back like a pleased Gavrailian. Eldin hadn’t attempted to chat with me as he always did. He sat as quiet as I’d been since he replaced Father in chump-collecting.

I removed my stare from the stubborn leaker and looked over at Eldin, seated on the stool, pail in hand, catching chump. But he wasn’t just catching chump. He was peering at me, observing me as if I were some mysterious artifact.

My skin tingled. My stomach flopped. I never held gazes with his shimmering, deep purple eyes. They infiltrated my soul, making my knees weak, and heart pound.

I scraped so hard, brown leaker-insides splattered onto my face. I dropped the brush, my cheeks burning.

Eldin jumped to his feet and removed a handkerchief from his back pocket. He tried handing it to me, but I was so embarrassed, I just scurried out of the barn as Javin was entering with a pail of water. I crashed into him, drenching us both.

“Elly!” Javin grabbed me by the shoulders, his eyes lilac, mirroring the concern and anger consuming his heart. “What happened?”

“Nothing I—”

“What did you do to her?” Javin released me and strode toward Eldin. “Did you touch her?”

I bustled after my hot-hearted brother. “Javin, he didn’t do anything.”

“Really, Javin?” Eldin set his pail on the ground. “You think I would ever harm Elisena?”

“That’s ‘your sister’ to you,” Javin said.

Eldin smiled, yet anger kindled in his heart. “Elisena is much more than just ‘your sister.’”

Javin stepped close to him. “Maybe to our family, but not to you. So don’t you dare even think of—”

“Of what? Being her friend?” Eldin stepped forward as my heart ached at the mere friend response, while every inch of me cringed at the swelling anger in him and big-mouthed Javin.

Eldin continued. “You aren’t her father so you should stop acting like one.”

Javin shoved him. Eldin staggered, knocking over the pail of chump. Javin swung his fist. Eldin dodged and then rammed into him, sending them both tumbling to the ground.

Eldin raised his fist.

“Please stop!” I screamed. And cried. Eldin peered at me again. Remorse.

He lowered his arm, rose to his feet, and walked out of the barn.

I have a feeling more distractions are on their way.

for blogs incentive

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Did My Calling Just Knock?

11th of the Days of Warmth

Eldin hasn’t been back. It’s going on day four of his absence at our farm. Father said, “It’s best to give the boy space to forgive.”

Meanwhile, I am needing my own space to forgive Javin. Papa-twin is banned from roto-flying and has twice more work to do until Eldin returns—if—Eldin returns.

I pray Javin would at least attempt to work on his trust issues. He and Father are two unhealthy extremes in the trust arena. Despite all he’s been through, Father is quite trusting. Whereas Javin is the complete opposite. He doesn’t even trust Father because of how trusting Father is. It’s a deep-rooted heart issue that began when we were seven.

Father and Javin sat outside shearing the new purple fur that had grown on our youngest furth, while Mother brushed my hair in the cottage fore-room. I used to enjoy going on adventures around the farm. We own a few acres, and Ollander and his wife always let me venture into their land.

They have two big slinkpaws; a fluffy black male and an orange-spotted female. Rina, the female, loved to play with me. I’d hide and she’d come skulking. With a playful growl she’d pounce and we’d roll around in the grass. That day we actually rolled down a hill. My adventures always left a tangled mess of brown curls, but because of the hill-smashing, the knots were worse, and Mother had to untwine sticks and grass.

The brush caught on a knot. Mother cussed and yanked. Anger speared from her heart like a dagger into mine. She yanked again. More cussing. I started to cry.

“Well if you didn’t act like an animal and play with those beasts, you wouldn’t have this ugly, wretched hair!” She pulled so hard the brush broke.

I wailed. Mother threw the brush on the floor, strode to the closet, and shoved the curtain aside. Rage, disappointment, and something even more horrible suffocated the air. She snatched her satchel off a hanger and stormed out of the cottage, leaving the door open. She screamed at Father. I ran to the entryway and peered outside.

Mother stood across from him while he held back Javin with one hand, the other grasping Mother’s. “Lillian, please. Let’s go inside and talk about this.”

“Oh, now you want to talk!” She shook her hand free. “You’ve had years to get to know your own wife, but you put this farm before me.”

“I work for you, for our children.”

“Stop. Just stop it. It’s too late. You’re too late.” She turned to the right. Alongside the cottage, three sibling rotos and their mother drank from a water tray. She marched in their direction.

Father released Javin and trailed Mother.

“Mama!” I jumped off our wrap-around porch and raced to her, Javin following suit.

Anger, disappointment, and self-pity bombarded my seven-year-old frame, poisoning my thoughts. Good for nothing. How could he? I want nothing to do with him. 

Mother hopped onto the mother roto. She screeched and flapped her red wings.

I reached up and clasped Mother’s calve. “Mama, where are you going?”

Javin gripped the roto’s feathers. “Stay, Mama! Stay.”

Father’s voice trembled. “Lillian, don’t do this. Please. We need you.”

Grasping the reins, she looked down at Father, and something I didn’t understand then consumed her heart. “You need me. What about love?”

A crushing weight of defeat and jealousy shrouded Father’s broken heart. Tears spilled from his purple eyes. “Clearly, you know nothing of love.”

She kicked the roto’s side. She leapt into the air and they soared away.

From that day forward, Javin never trusted anyone, but me. We were the victims. We were the ones abandoned. Our own mother traded us for what she believed was love and chased that fantasy to another town. Word traveled fast about her adulterous relationship with a married man of seven children.

Father couldn’t protect us from that betrayal, but Javin believes he can spare us from another. And so he behaves accordingly, keeping people at a distance or pushing them away. He certainly shoved Eldin hard. I guess it was an answered prayer. No distractions now. Which reminds me…

Today is Invitation Day. All the gifted in Zephoris who have been chosen to attend Knight’s Elect Academy will receive a letter of acceptance and invitation. No one gets to apply to the academy. They have only to wait for the letter and choose to accept or reject it.

With all the thoughts of slapping Javin or pushing him into roto waste, I hadn’t thought about this day. Well, I somewhat forced it from my mind. How could my gift be used to serve the people of Zephoris? Knights are strong and intimidating. I’m short, somewhat hefty, and shy.

It’s hard to imagine King Nifal would want me to become a knight. I’m clumsy with a sword at best and downright hazardous at worst. Ask Javin. The scar at the end of his eyebrow and descending his cheek is a consequence of my terrible swordsmanship. After that epic failure, he and Father never let me lift a sword again.

One moment.

Hmm. Javin’s anxiety level is tearing through the walls of my bedroom and prickling my entire body. Even Father’s nerves are leaking in. Now intense anger from papa-twin. He’s yelling at Father. I’ll be back.

Back.

Javin received an invitation to Knight’s Elect Academy.

And so did I.


Click HERE to read part 2!

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Here’s a Great Resource to Get Free Book Reviews & Publicity!

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All right fellow authors, have you heard of M.C. Frank’s the Book Robin Hoods book community? There’s a number of fiction-loving readers on there who have either a book review blog, Goodreads account, Instagram (some with thousands of followers!), or all three! It’s simple, the site gives out these reader/reviwers’ emails, and you can query them, asking if they’d like to receive an eBook copy (or print if you can afford to), of your novel in exchange for an honest review.

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I’ve received several reviews from these readers, and even snagged some Amazon ones (and we all know Amazon reviews are gold). So, what are you waiting for, author? Check it out!

Happy helping!

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Love Triangles: Hate ’em or Love ’em?

Some love love-triangles, others despise them. For me, they sometimes work and other times they fail miserably. What I think makes them work and why is simple enough. There’s something about a challenge that ignites us, especially when it involves someone we care about–let alone two people we care about. So when a couple faces a test of their love, our interest is piqued, and what better test than the temptation to love someone else? We also like to see when love fights and doesn’t give up easily.

But it’s kinda like a double-edged sword, isn’t it? At least it can be for me. I get pretty upset when a gal has clearly proved her love through sacrifice and commitment, only to then face the threat of being dumped by her guy for some chick who likely hasn’t shown the same level of sacrificial devotion. When the temptation is superficial–enter someone really attractive and mysterious or confident–that’s a fail for me. If that person’s a threat then either it’s not very believable, or the guy is a shallow jerk who I then end up not liking anymore because he dared entertain the idea of leaving his girl for lust. That’s annoying and makes me lose respect for the guy. Or the super typical obvious bad-girl/guy whose just trying to mess things up for the characters who are in a relationship. Those are never believable because you always know the character being hit on isn’t gonna fall for it and that the villain/villainess is gonna get found-out.

But then there’s those really likable other romantic interests; someone you can maybe root for whose relationship with the main character is a lot more complex, has more depth and history; like a long-lost-love, or a close companion whose also always been there for the character; or someone who even seems like a better match for said character. *Spoiler alert for the two of you who have yet to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi* I felt that way about Rose and Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I actually really liked Rose and felt like she and Finn were a better pair than Finn and Rey (even though it’s still not that official with Rose and Finn, it’s certainly more official than him and Rey).

So, how do you feel about the infamous love-triangle? Have you read/watched one that you really enjoyed? Feel free to share your thoughts in a comment.

Happy helping!

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Introducing Characters the Right Way

Ever meet a new character in a book and not think much of her? Her introduction was quite normal, mundane, lackluster. New characters should pique our interest. There should be something about them that causes us to want to know more. Sometimes, they don’t even have to say a word, but rather, it’s something this character does that sets him apart, makes him weird, unique, noble, horrible, awkward, funny, something other than normal (even though we all know no one’s completely normal; we all have our corks and “normal” is often subjective, but there’s pretty normal and then there’s really not normal or different).

What makes this new character different from previously introduced characters? What can be shown about this guy that hasn’t been seen in anyone else, or maybe has been seen, but not quite in the same way? Pick a word that you think would cause you to wonder about a person you’ve just met: mysterious, spiteful, cautious, nervous, brave, creative? Now consider a unique way one of those characteristics can be displayed. Think outside of the box because there certainly is one and you don’t want your character–even if he’s just a side one–to be typical.

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I know it’s easy to get lazy with side characters–I’ve been guilty of not always giving them too much thought–but they’re apart of your story, apart of the world, and they either build it in a way that makes it cooler, richer, more believable, frightening, wonderful, or they don’t add anything to it and that’s a wasted opportunity.

What side characters have you read recently and loved? Feel free to share your thoughts in a comment.

Happy helping!

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