Monday, November 30, 2015

The King's Challenge #121

TKC 121

I am reminded of Damin as I climb, seeing the tower stairs in Normur under my feet. We tried to warn people about the mud and water rising from below … and I found out about Alyssa.

My thoughts shy away … to Horin.

Always so understanding, dear Horin. Ever in the background, and yet he was our mother’s reason for going on after our father died. He was my reason for leaving Grenmassin in search of Damin; I desired to gift my baby brother a full life.

I will see him soon.

Employing that meeting as my inspiration, I continue upward. The lantern alone now lights my way. There are no random sources of illumination upon these otherworldly stairs.

Shadowy doorways appear as I go on, but I ignore all. Now is not the time for sight-seeing; I wish to reach the top as soon as possible.

Time passes I am unaware of. All I know is the agony in my legs. I do not stop, though, for I doubt I will be capable of renewed movement if I do. As my legs take fire, my mind numbs.

Finally, finally, another set of doors is before me. I stand heaving on a landing, clutching the rail, afraid I will fall backwards. Never have I been this depleted of everything.

Here there is dust. On the ancient stone underfoot, on the door knobs, even in the grooves of the carved wood before me. Why? Is this the wrong destination?

Shaking my head to dislodge uncomfortable thoughts, I grip the knobs. At first I do so merely for support. Inhaling deeply to slow my pounding heart, I stand as if otherwise frozen.

Then I turn the mechanisms under my fingers and shove the doors inward.

By the stars!

We have our tales of fictional scientific marvels, and I now thank them for gifting me something to compare what I see arrayed before me to.

This is the command centre of a spaceship.

Writer's mind: to say or not to say

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Nemesis Blade now in Paperback!

Yay, finally the print version is available :)

The King's Challenge #120

TKC 120

As I head forward, the lantern serves to animate other light sources, from amazing chandeliers overhead to twirling orbs at floor level. Clearly the lantern is a device and, while I am uncomfortable carrying a magical object, I hold on. I prefer the light to darkness, here.

After a time I realise I am in a circular space. The base of the Spire? Other than the imposing doors I entered through, I see no other means of egress. If this is the beginning of a narrowing tower into the clouds of Arc, how then do I ascend? Where is the exit leading to stairs?

Wandering, I note various friezes along the perimeter. All are of hands. A fist, a finger, splayed, waving, pointing. At first the purpose escapes me and then I understand the hands are captured in sorcery’s poses. A sombre sensation overcomes me. If someone adds a rendition of one of my hand’s here, will it reveal how it glows?

Exhausted, I sit on the ebony floor. I am stymied. Here there are no guides and my human eyes do not see how to continue. Ah. Understanding blossoms. I must use the other kind of sight.

Withdrawing my water from my pack, I think about it. Nothing in this place follows the usual rules; therefore I need to act outside of what is considered normal. Sipping, I sit in silence, keeping my eyes open. This is respite. I need to gather my wits before I employ the other sight.

Eventually the inactivity frustrates me. I stand, shove my water into its recess … and close my eyes.

Instantly a spiral stairway appears in the centre of the space. It appears made of cobwebs and I shudder. It vanishes into darkness above.

I set foot to this spidery device, clutching the lantern, my eyes closed. Feeling solidity underfoot, my eyes snap open. The cobwebs seen behind eyelids transform into bannisters and steps of real white stone.

I climb.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The King's Challenge #119

TKC 119

The door leaf closes behind me without my aid, and it frightens me. Is someone with me? Unseen in this darkness?

I release my breath when it occurs to me it is simply the pivot mechanism. This is utterly fantastic, this place, this duty, the past and present; no wonder my mind plays with me.

Where, though, is the light that accompanied me on the journey through the tunnels? I am not afraid of the dark, but here I need to see to go forward. Here, I am afraid of the dark.

My one hand is still glowing. It throws a tiny circle of light upon my breast as I hold it raised in preparation. Preparation for what? Staring at my fingers, I concentrate. Gradually the glow spreads and I see beyond my feet. A shiny floor greets my first step away from the doors. There is no dust. I expect dust in a space as old as this.

A lantern squats on a square table directly before me, becoming visible as I take another step. As I close in, an arc of yellow sparks hurtles from my hand to the lantern … and it bursts into brilliance.

Heaving, I jerk my hand in, closing it into a fist. My fingers are cold, as if I have immersed my hand into ice water. After the heat, it is beyond agony. There is no glow either. I pray this does not signify that my talents are now in abeyance.

Gripping the lantern, I lift it high. More sparks fly. Arcs of light fizzle into the darkness beyond, of many colours, and every arc targets another source of brilliance. Wall sconces explode into fireless flame. Chandeliers overhead sparkle, throwing prism manipulation into a faraway ceiling. Everywhere light dances. Yellow, scarlet, sapphire, emerald and amber. Silver motes play together upon the polished floor.

What is this place?

A cathedral of light?

I am in awe.

As a writer, you get to play ...

Friday, November 27, 2015

The LORE books ...

... in one glance ...

92 000+!

Thank you for visiting!


The King's Challenge #118

TKC 118

Time has no meaning in an underground world. Without a sun as guide, there is no measurement.

How long I walk, I cannot say, but my aching feet tell the tale. As do the muscles in my thighs, for there are many stairs. Many. While tunnels branch off, I am led ever upward by the sighs on the edge of hearing. These infernal stairs seem eternal.

Eventually I am in what I can only describe as an antechamber. It is a large and level space I enter, with a flagged floor and decorated ceiling. The symbols carved into the rock above are all alien to me, however, if amazing in their intricacy. I study them for a time, hoping for insight, but there is nothing in the symbols even remotely familiar.

The bizarre rock glow is stronger here and it highlights the imposing set of double doors directly opposite the tunnel I entered from. It drew my attention immediately, of course, but I am wary of this entrance. This is akin to the crossroads; it is a matter of choice. I hoped for insight in the symbols …

Yes, my mind is a chaotic place right now.

I approach.

These doors lead to another world, a place of the others, of times long passed. I no longer wish to enter, and yet I am also aware of my duty. Inhaling and holding the breath, I reach out.

My hands begin to glow and heat rushes through me. My talents are taking control. The feeling is more familiar now, and thus I do not panic. I place a glowing hand on the right leaf … and push.

We may not enter here. Watch yourself, my lady.

Glancing over my shoulder, I smile at the nothingness there, knowing how populated the antechamber in fact is. “Thank you. Keep the faith.”

We await your return.

I enter the darkness beyond.

On compiling episodes of The King's Challenge

Hello! I have started compiling the King’s Challenge into a document for editing, episode after episode, and already I discovered a few bloopers! For those of you who are new to the posting process, I write the episodes daily without forward planning, allowing the story to go where it takes us.  I open Word, type the episode heading, and go. This means no editing, other than a quick once over for spelling and punctuation.

Having swiftly looked at what I’ve written to date as I inserted episodes … hmm. A plot hole or two. A spelling mistake overlooked. Point of view mess up in one of the episodes …

All will be fixed and tweaked before the final version is released! I suggest we go with the flow and allow the story to dictate direction, and at the end of it the rough edges will be smoothed away.

I am still having fun with this challenge! I hope you are enjoying the read! Forgive, therefore, inadvertent errors and simply come along with Lyra and Damin on this mission J

Uncover the plot of your story

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Justine's Journal now in book form!

Many of you followed Justine's weekly thoughts and know we intended to put it all into a book. Here it is! We are still working with a designer on the cover. Initially Justine and I thought to do everything ourselves, but cover design isn't exactly a skill either of us have. The one you see here is what we came up with, and both of us agree we need another! We particularly need help for the print wrap!!

If you haven't followed Justine's journey, all her posts are linked to in 'Justine's Journal' in the sidebar - feel free to browse :)


Justine writes 500 words (or as near as), per week for 52 weeks, submitting her thoughts for anonymous posting, via her friend’s blog. At the end of the year they decide to create a book, hoping Justine’s thoughts will serve as inspiration to others.
Justine is real, although her real name doesn’t appear in this book. She prefers the anonymity, for it is easier to share when no one knows who you are.
Although believing a pattern will emerge from her words, one of self-knowledge, possibly of inspiration, it starts as a shared experiment. Initial doubts lead to a sense of excitement, as both writer and blogger feel the message coming through.
This experiment and the results are shared here. Justine’s Journal isn’t meant to teach the rules of feelings or behaviour. There are no rules; everyone is different. This is simply one woman’s journey, a courageous one.

Author’s Note: Justine asked me, her friend, to remain as author of this book (although I only play the role of editor and reader), and we agreed any proceeds will go to a charity of her choice.

The King's Challenge #117

TKC 117

I expected darkness. The lower the metal ladder takes me, the lighter it becomes, however. There is no light source other than the dwindling grey circle overhead and yet I am able to see. Perhaps it is a property of the ancient stone I now descend into.

My feet touch ground. A paved tunnel, faintly glowing. Somehow I find this stranger than anything that has gone before, for this reveals a past, a people with the ability to delve and dress rock.

Light beings did not do this. Their slaves did. How long has it been since the first sanctuary seekers vanished into obscurity in this place? Abruptly I feel time itself pressing down.

Shouldering my pack, I walk determinedly forward. I now wish I had not sent Hanna away; a companion will do much to lessen this burden.

My footfalls echo. My heartbeat thunders. My breath leaves me in great gasps. I am afraid. I make so much noise, I think even the dead will wake.

Go back …

Flinching, I halt.


Swallowing, I understand the voices are all around me. The dead are not only awake, but speaking.

“I have to do this,” I say, and my words rebound akin to hollow bells. “I know why you seek to delay me, but too many will die if I stop now.”

Tricks and traps await you. Go back.

The other death is the easier death.

They lied!

I close my eyes. A host swirls around me, all faceless. My eyes snap open. Thank the stars they have no faces. “My brother will release you from this prison of waiting, but he must survive in order to do so.”

Silence surrounds me. The host is listening.

“Horin is a warrior. He will stand between us and them, this I swear. Help me now, please. Show me what to do. Show me how to save my people and together we will save each other from the otherworld beings.”

I wait a long time, unmoving, and then, I hear these words. This way, my lady. Come this way.

Coming to you in December!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The King's Challenge #116

TKC 116

Hanna is stubborn. She does not agree with me. Thus, in the middle of the night, while she is in deep sleep, I slip away.

She is able to track me, but I am hoping this will make her think. I hope she will choose, in the morning, to go back.

As silent as I am able to do so, I lead Leaf away. A fair distance from our camp, I enter the river, hoping I am far enough away not to wake Hanna with our splashing sounds. Hoping also that the point of entry into the current is where she loses my trail.

By mid-morning I understand I am alone. Either Hanna lost me or she chose to return as asked.

Never have I felt this lonely. Thank the stars for Leaf. Her warmth gives me hope.

Together we travel without incident for days, and then the morning arrives when the peaks tower over us. Buried in clouds up there is a suggestion of a spike, a manufactured object. My destination. The Spire.

The ethereal Sassen said to search for a trapdoor. While I do not trust her motives, about the entry point I do not think she lied. I hope so. Much of what I now do is based on hope.

In the end, finding it is easier than I believed it would be. In a dark glade, for the mountain throws a deep shadow, I find it. Seeing it brings Damin to mind and other trapdoors we used back in Normur. Suddenly I miss him with an ache that causes my stomach to roil. How I wish he is with me.

This is where Leaf and I must part ways. I remove my pack and water, and then unsaddle her. There is certainly enough for her to eat and drink, but I pray she will be fine. She has been a good friend.

Thinking through our fingers

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TKC Collage 10

Another two weeks have passed! Time for a collage :)

The King's Challenge #115

TKC 115

Only birdsong and horse snuffles speak to the day thereafter. We are wordless; two women caught up in private thoughts … and fears.

As night approaches, I finally speak of what has grown in my mind during the day.


She glances at me. “Do you want to stop? There is light left.”

“I need to ask you to do something for me. For all of us.”

Her lips tighten. She knows me well enough now to understand she will not like what I am going to ask of her.

“Go back,” I say. When her eyes widen, I state, “You must keep the marchers on the rim, Hanna. If the asteroid does not hit, they can go back immediately and none of what awaits here will happen to them.”

“Go back to what, Lyra?” she blurts. “Even if that rock goes on its merry way, we have all burned our bridges.”

“That will be easier to bear than slavery.”

Hanna stares at me. “You had a protected upbringing, girl. If we go back, we will be slaves anyway. There is nothing to return to, do you not understand that yet?”

She is right. I close my eyes as the truth of her words settle into my heart and soul. “Then the best we can hope for is to remain on the outer edges of this trap. Go back and tell them to stay close. To penetrate this place will mean losing their souls.”

“And you?”

I gesture at the peaks we attempt to reach. “I go on.”

Hanna shakes her head. “You will not make it in time without my guidance.”

Bringing Leaf to a halt, I say, “I will get there. You must do this. Keep them there, but send Horin to me. If what I suspect about him is true, he will make it safe for all of us.”

Writing: As close as we get

Monday, November 23, 2015

The King's Challenge (mini omnibus)

112 / 113 / 114

“Lyra, we are here because we follow the old ones. Why doubt now?” Hanna demands.

Sitting on a boulder, I sip at my water. Nearby our horses take the opportunity to graze a while.

“Arc exists, despite the fact it took someone like Mirlin, a man from the west, to tell me about it. An old legend is thus real, and Joseph confirmed it for us via his map. But that only tells us that there was a before, Hanna; it does not mean the people from that before were benevolent. We have been hasty in trusting to an old story to save us.”

“Fine, I follow your reasoning.” Hanna retrieves her water from Pretty and sits on the grass. “Yet we did trust. Why is it different now?”

“Sassen got me to thinking. A being of light? She was the last to succeed, and she threw up this ring of mountains? Fantastic, but let’s place it in perspective. She cannot be from our world, for nature here is not her normality.” After setting my water down, I stare at the river. “She created the fortification, I believe that. Maybe with others, maybe alone, who knows? But she did it to keep her kind in, safe from the influences of the locals.”

“They came from elsewhere and needed a place to hide,” Hanna breathed.

“Yes! I cannot say what they needed to flee from, the event that drove them from their spaces, but here they hid.”

Hanna lifts a finger into the air. “The locals would not have been able harm beings of light, though. More than likely, they wouldn’t even have seen them. There are many isolated places on Massin; why create a sanctuary?”

I now stare into Hanna’s inner self, hoping she will hear me. “They had no free will. The locals then did as they pleased and that kind of freedom would be dangerous, would it not? We used it. Hanna, despite the restrictions of our society. When the situation demanded it of us, we used our free will to walk away that society. We may die, but we still choose to try. I bet folk back in the early times had fewer restrictions. Can you imagine what would happen to a strict society if such freedom is seen and felt?”

“How do you know?”

I wave at the air around us. “I saw them. I heard them. I felt them. They are not ghosts; they are beings of steadily dimming light. The laws of their kind keep them here. All they needed to do was float over the peaks, but they never tried. It is an assailable barrier for them, because they cannot think for themselves. They warn that we will be similarly trapped. To survive at first, we will follow the resident directives, and one day we won’t know any different. All who have sought haven here could not leave again … and they are still here. Every human seeking sanctuary in this place became a being of light in death, for that is the barrier. Death. Death ends residual freedom and it strengthens the barrier.”

Leaf and Pretty amble down to the river. I stand to follow, but Hanna’s next statement roots me.

“The voices we are meant to ignore in the Spire are of our ancestors.”

Blinking, I nod. “Yes. I had not realised that yet. They will warn us and Sassen desires that we ignore them.”

Hanna stands arms akimbo. “Yet we need a place to escape the fireball. And we also need to try and deflect the rock. It seems to me we have quite the conundrum here. Stay out there and we are dead. Stay in here and we are … what? What would we be, Lyra? Seems to me we will be, at the very least, alive.”

“Slaves,” I whisper. “Living slaves.”

Hanna stamps her foot. “Why do they need to keep us in?”

Inhaling sharply over the rush of clarity that shivers through me, I say, “They are dying. They need new souls.” Sinking to my knees, I claw at the grit. “I don’t know how, but the life essence we carry gifts them time. They are waiting for something and need time.” My head jerks up. “The host around us were human once. Light beings now, but dimmer. The originals feed off them. At first they needed to keep others out, now they need to keep others in.”

Shaking her head, Hanna moves to the horses. “Too complicated for me. You contradict yourself with every word.”

I am aware how contradictory I sound, but the tale comes to me in snatches of clarity. I stand shakily. If we stay here, we are doomed. Yet Hanna is right; if we remain out there beyond these mountains, we will die. By the stars, I need a guide. I need someone to tell me what to do.

The answer comes to me then, although only dimly perceived. It is not an answer, really; more a means to a solution. My guide is coming. He will also be my shield. Our shield. He will stand between us and them. I must deflect the asteroid from the Spire and trust he will lead us out again when the time of renewal blossoms beyond these mountains.

“Lyra!” Hanna shouts, falling to her knees beside me, shaking me. “You collapsed. You are burning.”

I stare at her. “My brother is coming.” Sobs overtake me then. Horin, sweet boy, you do not deserve this fate.

TKC Update

Hi, everyone! Due to circumstances this weekend I was unable to write. I hope to catch up this afternoon. Expect a small 'omnibus' of episodes 112, 113 and 114!

Around my corner

The magic around the corner where I live :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The King's Challenge #111

TKC 111

I do not move. Hanna will know to do the same, merely by looking at me. I do not open my eyes. I concentrate on the host I see behind my eyelids.

They are ghostly in appearance. The silence is unnerving, as is their motionless state. But they are watching … and waiting. For what? They have weight in the tangible world, for ghosts cannot mark paths as these have. Do they wait for us to leave, in order to assume form once more and continue walking? To where? Forest or river, ceaselessly? None of this has logic, and I am at a loss.

A part of me thinks they wait for the Healer in me to send them onwards. To release them from this eternal wandering. Yet it is true Hanna and I would have continued on our way without stopping, had not the trampled crossroads garnered our attention. I would thus not have known to close my eyes to see them.

We did stop, however. We did notice the crossroads. I have seen them.


This is about the crossroads.

This is about choice.

The moment I make the connection, the horde of pale apparitions wafts upwards as smoke, and they vanish.

I open my eyes.

“I get the feeling we were in the company of many until a moment ago,” Hanna says.

“A host, yes.” I step into the very centre of the crossroads. “We have a choice before us, Hanna.”

She pinches her chin. “A hard one, I assume?”

“Maybe not,” I respond absently. I hunker, but gaze towards the peaks instead of the ground. “They were warning me about the Spire, I think. To continue may be to the downfall of all.”

“Now you are not making sense, Lyra. Surely the goal is to deflect that rock in the sky? How else, but with the help of the old ones’.”

I shift my gaze to the Messenger. “The old ones cannot be trusted.”

Review - The Love of the Dead

Seriously, I could not put this down! This has so many elements – ghosts, supernatural, murder, broken people – that it captured me from the first word. Add in a fast pace, some serious soul-searching, a terrifying serial killer, surprising twists, and I promise you that you will be as enthralled. Grab a copy right now!!

The Gathering of Crows

Thursday, November 19, 2015

91 000+!

Thank you for visiting!


The King's Challenge #110

TKC 110

We come to a crossroads. While there are no formal paths here, animals have blazed trails, and these we follow. Here, at this place, hordes of creatures must have crossed ways in order to create something this visible.

It is between the treeline and the river we see ahead. Clearly large animals paused here to choose between water and shade, coming from both east and west to this point of choice. As many chose water, clearly, as those choosing shade. There is no sight of animals now, but the evidence overwhelms us.

It gets worse when Hanna says, “What if we only think animals did this?”

“What else can it be?” I burst out, sending her a look.

She shrugs. “People, Lyra, how else?”

I do not want to think about that. Until now I have been quite happy to believe that Arc is uninhabited … except for the ethereal Sassen. Think about it I must, though. “Fine, maybe. This is your talent, Hanna; how long since someone or something walked here?”

Hanna slides off Pretty and bends to the trail. Moving in both directions, she studies the trampled earth, finally squatting to stare fixedly.

“Well?” I demand.

She is thoughtful. “No footprints that suggest people, but no prints to suggest animals either. It’s odd, does not make sense.”

I clamber from Leaf’s back and join her. “Can you at least tell when?”

Hanna looks up at me. “A thousand years … and this morning.”

Breath deserts me for a moment. “What do you mean?”

“This place is both ancient and new, Lyra, and well-travelled, but who or what walks here? Your guess is as good as mine.”

I glance over my shoulder at the trees. Nothing there. No one comes along the exposed paths either. The river’s edge is unattended. We are alone, as we believed. I close my eyes.

Yes, there it is. My inner senses tell me we are, in fact, surrounded.

Reading and writing

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review - Dark Places

The King's Challenge #109

TKC 109

The light in the clearing vanishes as swiftly as it appeared. Night sounds return, but Hanna and I are caught in darkness.

Stumbling, we climb the rise to our camp. I have no doubt daylight will reveal a host of bruises and scratches on my legs, arms and hands.

Without speaking, we pack up in the dark and take to the path again. We will not find sleep now; our minds are too busy.

As the sun rides the eastern peaks, Hanna says, “I don’t like it. There are too many ifs in this thing.”

“Sorcery is the main ingredient,” I murmur. “Belief in self is all well, but it takes a bit more than that to deploy the frequency needed to stop an asteroid. A woman made of light? That’s magic. Voices of those who failed? That’s magic, too. A Spire able to defend? Smacks of great feats.”

Hanna is looking at me. She says not a word.

I gaze ahead. “I now know I have abilities. I have seen and felt. Does that make me a witch? I do not think so, for those talents are of the natural world. Am I a sorceress? Does that term even exist? It implies years of practice, of knowing, and therefore cannot describe me. What am I, Hanna, and can I do this?”

Hanna too gazes ahead. “Joseph is the reader. He tells of the Rainmakers, the Healers and the Sages. All are part of who you are, talent-wise, and they are accepted in an underground manner by the more knowledgeable of Massin’s highlanders. The Elemental side, though, is where it gets tricky. There is the ability to employ frequency and to determine truth. A true Elemental is also a healer, sage and is able to summon rain.”

“I am an Elemental? Hanna, I have not summoned rain.”

“Yet,’ she grins.

Everyday sort of magic

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The King's Challenge #108

TKC 108

The night’s surprises are not over. As I am about to ask how to enter the Spire, the ethereal woman leans forward.

“Lyra,” she says. “Belief is frequency. Faith is frequency. If you doubt, you will fail. If you trust yourself, you will succeed.”

I draw a breath. That has always been my understanding in all life’s conundrums. “I hear you, Sassen, but a little practical help will go a long way in easing my mind.”

She smiles wide. “Women are more practical, aren’t we?” Her smile vanishes immediately. “If you succeed, Lyra, I may move on, for you will be the lore keeper then. Please make it happen; I am weary of waiting.”

“Do I then become an apparition?” I gasp. The notion does not sit well. I then choose to fail, rather than wait as a ghost until the next catastrophe brings another to take my place.

Sassen lifts a hand. “No, this isn’t my form of waiting. This is me. I am a being of light.”

Both Hanna and I gape.

“There were and are many beings, my friends. In the current era you are simply more tangible than we were. Now,” and Sassen slaps at her thighs, “let us be practical. There is a trapdoor you need to find. Look along the lower ridges, and enter there. This will save you a climb to the peaks, for there is no door to enter the spire from the outside. The entrance is inside the mountain. Next; beware of the voices. There is no one inside, and the voices cannot physically harm you, but they will attempt to waylay and distract you from your goal. They are the leftovers from other wanderers, those who failed.”

“Where is the mechanism of control once we are inside?” Hanna asks.

“In Lyra’s mind,” Sassen murmurs.

The touch of the Bard

Monday, November 16, 2015

Elaina's Notes on Reviewing

As stated before, I do believe our books deserve reviews. That is the author part of me talking, of course, but knowing how I feel, I therefore do leave reviews - as a reader. Reviews are how we tell others what we thought about a book and perhaps we then encourage other readers … and we encourage our authors to keep writing.

Yet it is a fact that reviews are subjective. What I enjoy reading, you may not. Something I find less than interesting, you may enjoy. This is how we are; we are all different, and I love that we are all different. From a review point of view, though, maybe you question how I rate reviews I do post.

I don’t review everything I read. Some books do not in any manner create a spark of interest for me. Others are written, well, badly, and I simply abandon the book. I will not leave a terrible review; this is just how I am. If a book, in my opinion, does not merit three stars or more, it will not receive a review. I know how much work goes into writing a novel, series, short story, poem or novella, and to trash the writer’s years of work just doesn’t feel right.

I therefore post reviews of books that did in some way speak to me.

Now you ask, but how can you give a contemporary or horror novel 5 stars and then the next day a fantasy or crime novel also receives those 5 stars? These reads are completely different from each other, are they not?

The answer is that my rating isn’t about genre. I read all kinds (although my favourite is Fantasy) and every genre has a different way to tell a story and therefore elicits reactions that will be different also. I base my rating on my reactions.

A sweet romance may cause me to sob into my pillow, while an epic fantasy may have me swinging swords in my dreams. Reaction. Emotion. Therefore both deserve five stars.

Thus, don’t judge what I read when looking at my rating; use the stars to judge my reactions to the story. Now you know J

Review - The Fool's Journey

This is a meandering tale about a woman who sees ghosts and falls in love after leaving her formal life in the city and moving to Wales.

I found it easy to read and interesting, although I wished for more scene breaks in the narrative. Sometimes we are here, then there, and there is no break between. Other than that, a lovely read.

3 Stars

The King's Challenge #107

TKC 107

Gradually the ethereal Sassen moves to sit and as she does so a small glowing stool appears. She sits and smiles at us. “I am weary of always standing.”

I do not know what to think. “What do you mean the others failed? Failed at what?”

She peers at me through the veil. “The Spire, of course.”

I too sit. Leaves puddle around me. “There were others before?”

“Yes. This isn’t the first time our world has faced disaster. In the past, when it was most desperate as it is for you now, others realised there is a haven here. Naturally you cannot simply survive in Arc, not at first. With time you may grow food and build shelters, but initially you are able to die swiftly. The Spire is succour for some, defence for others, a weapon for yet others. It depends on what you need. Using the Spire requires certain talents, however, and I was the last to succeed.” Sassen sighs then. “Many died in failure.”

I swallow, for now fear of failure becomes real to me. “Tell me about the Spire.”

She spreads her hands. “It is a tower older than this world. It was brought here from another place, but that history is now forgotten. It is about frequency. Find the right resonance and you find what is most needed.”

“What did you need?” Hanna whispers, coming to sit beside me.

“We needed a siege wall. There was a war and we faced extinction. Desperate times, indeed.” Sassen points up. “The ring of mountains? That is the siege wall I created with the aid of the Spire.” Her arm falls back. “It worked, but we were too few and eventually all those who came here passed into dust and beyond memory.”

“How does frequency prevent an asteroid’s annihilation?” I ask.

Sassen smiles sadly. “That is your task to discover. I hope you succeed.”


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The King's Challenge #106

TKC 106

I look at Hanna and her shock is evident in the whiteness surrounding us. I am as astonished.

How is it possible? How does a woman appear as light in the darkness, if not by magic? This is high talent, though, and I have never heard tell of it, not even in the most obscure legends.

Gazing down, I have the clearest impression the woman waits for us. She is unmoving, but there is about her a sense of expectation.

Despite my disquiet, I make my way down to the clearing below. Hanna hisses at me to stay put, but I understand nothing will change until we deal with this phenomenon. The apparition will wait into eternity and we will be bound to the hilltop. Maybe that is fanciful, but it is how I feel.

I hear Hanna behind me. Twigs snap and leaves rustle.

The waterfall is ethereal also. Perhaps it is the energy that allows the woman to maintain presence.

“Hello?’ I venture, coming to rest a few paces away.

A smile erupts. “Hello! Thank you for coming to talk to me.”

Hanna and I glance at each other. I clear my throat. “Who are you?”

“I am Sassen, the lore keeper of Arc. Who are you?”

Her voice is real. How strange. “I am Lyra.”

Ethereal hands clasp together. “Lyra? Oh, finally! I have been waiting for you.”

By the stars, this is eerie. “You have been waiting?”

“Yes! The names of all are written in the book. Those who came before and those who came after.”

“Before and after what?” Hanna demands.

“Me!” the woman laughs. “Sassen is my name and after me there is …” She ticks off on her fingers. “… eight names, and then Lyra. The others failed, though.” She grimaces and then stares directly at me. “My hope is that you succeed.”

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The King's Challenge #105

TKC 105

Hanna has experience with reading the land for the best direction and path in search of destination. While it appears we should head northwest, we head directly north. It feels strange after the journeys we undertook ever in a southerly vein.

“There are too many hills to the west. It will take more time than we have to negotiate them,” Hanna says.

I follow her lead.

By mid-morning we have made good time. Wherever possible, we push our mounts. By mid-afternoon the peaks we seek appear larger. We go on, stopping only to water the horses. By nightfall we have ascended a forested hill. There we debate whether to go down into the valley below or make camp where we are.

The advantages of height win out.

“How long?” I ask Hanna.

She peers into the darkness. “Six, seven days, I estimate.”

We still have time for the spire itself if her timing is correct. I am content with the pace. In the darkest hours I dream of Damin, Horin and Siri. I see them walking together across the plain. I see Horin throwing light into the atmosphere, green light … and sit up heaving. Horin? What is my brother doing?

The night is too silent, I notice. This kind of quiet usually heralds a predator. Goosebumps shiver and the hairs on my arms become as spikes of torture. I reach across to Hanna, shaking her gently … then firmly.

She bolts up, but sees the finger I have over my lips. The fire is embers, but it does throw the slightest glow. Hanna nods and tosses sand over the embers.

We sit in absolute darkness, listening.

The sound of cascading water suddenly fills the void. And then the brightest white light pierces the night, blinding us.

An ethereal woman descends into the clearing below.

Anointed by nature

Friday, November 13, 2015

The King's Challenge #104

TKC 104

As we lie near the fire to sleep, I give thought to something Hanna said.

“We all have secrets, Lyra. If Damin holds something back from you, he has his reasons. I doubt it is to hurt you.”

Damin has hurt her, though. First by leaving Grenmassin and then in not sending word for five years. After asking for her hand, he vanishes. What was she supposed to think? She felt abandoned. Damin explained why, but it does not erase the years of waiting and wondering. Then she learned about Alyssa. It rankles still. It hurts.

She trusts Damin … but maybe not entirely with her heart anymore.

Lyra flips over to ease an aching hip. It does not at this point matter, however. There are graver and greater issues to deal with, such as the spire marked on Joseph’s map.

She closes her eyes. Every time she does so, she sees it before her, as clear as in the initial vision on the road to Porlese. A needle on a peak. It has no colour, but that may be a facet of time. Is she seeing it in daylight or at night? Or is she seeing something from the past transposed onto the present? Colour will be there only when she stands at the foot of the needle … hopefully. She sees her hands on glowing orbs, each with a strange symbol etched into a curve. One of those, or a combination of orbs, is able to protect against the asteroid.

A shield to bounce it away? A pulse to nudge trajectory? A weapon to blast it into tiny pieces?

She has no idea, and the uncertainty of the approaching choices no doubt has her questioning the motives of those around her, near and far.

“You think too much, Lyra,” Hanna murmurs from the other side of their fire.

I probably do, yes.

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