Short Story Tuesday: The Warlock Council

Below are the first 500 words from my book Rift in the Deep, available for e-book pre-order here. 

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Colin Redstone inched backwards over the smooth stone, the sound of his shuffling feet masked by the raucous shouts of the Warlock Council. How had it come to this? Yet he knew how, deep down inside. Briton the Brown made it clear as soon as he invaded the peace talks and demanded an audience with the Council.

Never had Colin seen such anger and animosity. Or fear. The Council shouted at the diminutive man in their midst. Briton’s flowing brown robes were the same hue as his skin and eyes. At first glance, nothing about him demanded attention. Colin knew who he was, but if he hadn’t, he would have thought he was a drake, wandering too far from his temple.

But he was no drake.

Hence the shouting and anger.

Colin stopped his slow escape from the Council chambers as one voice rose above them all, twisting his neck to observe the commotion.

“We demand you cease your perverted ways!” Spittle flew from High Councilor Radan’s mouth, specks glittering in the air. “You have embroiled all the Lands in your war, and have forced the warlocks into hiding, even from our own nations!”

“You cannot blame me for this.” In contrast to his small stature, Briton’s voice rang deep and commanding. Colin felt the impact, a burning desire to believe him burning in his chest. But no. Briton was a madman.

Colin paused and leaned in to hear what he had to say. The whole room stilled, silent. As if the other warlocks wanted to believe him, too. It wasn’t true, since Colin had many a discussion with the assembly about Briton, and the consensus was that he was a manipulator.

That must be part of Briton’s accessing power; the ability to turn men’s hearts to him. It was a dangerous, seductive thing. And probably part of the reason the Lands were now embroiled in war. Actually, not probably. Most certainly the reason.

“We most certainly can,” Councilmember Josiah said, his calm demeanor a direct contrast to Radan, who sat red-faced next to him. “This war must end, Briton. And you are the one who can end it.”

“Am I to blame that the common people are afraid of us?” Briton’s dark eyes swept the assembled warlocks, turning from the table where the Councilmembers sat to appraise the other warlocks present. The room was packed wall to wall, mostly standing room. Colin stood closest to the door. Wedged as he was, he had a good view of the men present, and their wide, inquiring eyes watching Briton the Brown’s every move.
No doubt, Briton would hold them in his grasp, only to wrench the rug out from under their feet in an instant. His silver tongue couldn’t talk its way out if this predicament. A shaft of fear, icy and cold, crept up Colin’s spine at the thought.
Briton had made his bed. Violence is never the answer. Surely he knew this.
All roads led to him. All Lands feared the warlocks because of him.

***

Want to know the rest of the story? You can, March 1st! And don’t forget to sign up for my email list and receive a free copy of Infraction by JE Purrazzi.

Rift in the Deep Cover Reveal

Thanks to the tireless work of Jill Purrazzi and Susie at Poole Publishing…the cover art and book design are DONE. Ready for publication on March 1, and pre-order on February 18th. I’m so excited!

Let me know what you think!

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Short Story Tuesday: To Trudge

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Trudge. To walk slowly or with heavy steps.

She glanced down at the downy head that came just to her chin, the black curls soft on her cheek. The child was strapped to her, his warm body the constant reminder of why she did what she did. For him.

She looked back up to the chain link fence that surrounded them, the compound bustling with activity. Children squealed and ran haphazardly through the tents while mothers scolded and fathers clumped together in circles, worried eyes scanning the horizon. She would have given the world twice over for her husband to be at her side. As she thought of him, her throat closed up. Tears threatened to escape their confines. Then the baby giggled and reached his chubby hands for her cheek. She caught his wandering fingers in her own and kissed them. She still had a reason to live. To fight. To…trudge. Even if that was all she could do, she would.

The line shifted, and she took a step forward. The woman in front of her smelled like dust and sweat, the once-colorful shawl around her shoulders now stained with dirt and grime. What was her story? Perhaps not much different than her own. Did she feel the same hope burning in her chest that this time, she would be given access to the world beyond the fence? She must, to some extent, otherwise she wouldn’t be back in line. Waiting for hours. Even days.

Another shift. Another step forward. The child reached for her again, and she kissed his curls. He squirmed and fussed, trying to escape. She knew the feeling. No human being was meant to live in confinement. Freedom and liberty was a God-given right. Yet here she was, wasn’t she? Confinement for freedom. There was irony there somewhere, but she had no desire to find any humor in it. Stale irony, then.

Another shuffle forward. The future at the end of the line taunted. Was it bright and beckoning? Would she find their freedom? She didn’t know what she would do if failure met her there, instead. Anxiety clawed at her chest, even as the baby hugged her tight and babbled incoherently. What a stark contrast he was to her own inner desperation. She would be strong. For him. She must be.

Her turn had come. Another shuffle, and then…”Name?” She gave it. “Papers?” She gave them. The eyes that looked up at her had no compassion. They were dead eyes. They belonged to a wax figure in a museum.

“I’m sorry. Not this month.”

****

The refugee crisis continues. 24 displaced people flee for safety every minute. Yes, you read that right. To get involved, go here.

Writing as Catharsis: My Year Part 2

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I wrote last week about a conversation I had with my husband that opened up a floodgate, and I entered into the world of mental health illnesses and all that comes with it. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

Last August I had major knee surgery and was bed bound for 12 weeks, with a three and two year old. I’m sure you can imagine how fun that was. My body was already in a state of recovery, and my emotional instability didn’t help. Depression set in, and I knew that unless I kept my mind sharp and active, I might not ever claw out of the slump I found myself in.

Then the question popped into my mind: Why not finish writing that book I started as a teenager? The idea sprang forth like a shoot from a seed. Yes. That could keep my mind engaged while I languished on my bed, waiting for my knee to heal.

It was the best decision I could have made. I wrote four manuscripts in eight months. I’m set to release Rift in the Deep on March 1st, the first in a series called The Steward Saga. Here is the blurb. I won’t say that writing “saved me” but I will say that it helped save my sanity. While God healed my body and helped me sort through the feelings that came with it, writing became my outlet for those emotions and creativity that had been building up inside. If you are a writer, you know what I mean, right? It’s cathartic.

Writing serves several purpose, and being a creative outlet is just one of them. I’ll tackle more reasons at another time. But for now, and how it interacts with the suffering and trials I’ve experienced this last year, you could say that God has used it to show me that the path He has laid out isn’t only filled with darkness. There are shafts of light that burst forth to illuminate his goodness in the midst of pain. It provides an anchor, so that when I’m tempted to wonder if He really does love me and have my best at heart, I write. And His promises come flooding back.

Something is Coming

You GUYS. The impressive, illustrious Jill Purrazzi has done the cover art for my book coming out March 1. Rift in the Deep, in case you forgot.

Poole Publishing has done the actual cover…and I will reveal it next week. NEXT WEEK. Did you hear me!? NNNNEEEEEEEXXXT WEEEEEEEEEK.

So stay tuned.

My Year Part 1

“Do you think you have ADD?”

The feeling of relief that washed over me was palpable. A living thing. “You think that, too?”

Eric nodded. “I’ve thought so for a while now.”

We were sitting in Chuy’s on a date night, and as soon as he said the words, I felt a release of emotions. Relief. Affirmation. Dread. For years I had wondered and kept silent, fearful that I was imagining it all. Afraid of the ramifications of a diagnosis, and all the stuff that comes with it. Mostly, afraid it was somehow my fault. That I should try harder. Do better. Force myself to pay attention. Not be so anxious all the time.

This opened up a floodgate, and I opened up about my anxiety, as well. We decided I should pursue a clinical approach along with the counseling approach I had been taking. Counseling had been incredibly helpful, for sure. But if the issue was in my brain wiring, it would take more than just wishing it away.

Why was I so hesitant, you would probably ask. Anyone who has what would be termed “mental health issues” would laugh. The stigma follows you, but not only that, your own fears and stigmas do as well. We are our worst critics.

I’ve already addressed here about finding freedom in the midst of mental illness. It doesn’t define me, or you, if you have similar struggles. But how do we wrestle with the fact that there is an element of who we are that could be rejected by our society? A society that tells us we need to keep ourselves bottled up, and only show what it deems beautiful? Being real and genuine requires opening up parts of ourselves that others might despise. That is the fear that haunts most of us who have diagnosable mental problems.

So when my husband asked me that question, a Pandora’s box exploded open. And we both walked through it together. He wasn’t going to reject me, or despise me, for something that was a part of me that couldn’t be medicated away. And as I took baby steps to talking about it, seeking help, and embracing how I was made, that Pandora’s box became insignificant. Not in the way most people would think: it was still a big learning curve. It’s still a struggle to talk about. But to the people who matter most to me, they love me not just in spite of my ADD and anxiety, but because of it. And THAT is what makes the difference.

If you, too, struggle with mental health problems, let me beg you to surround yourself with people who will embrace you. Get medical and counseling help. Find a community, church, or organization that will walk through it with you. There is freedom to be who you were made to be.