Posts tagged “Seeds of Autumn

Promotion!

Autumn 3D CoverWinter 3D Cover

Special Offer – Limited Time Only!

Hi folks. I hope January has treated you well and that those New Year’s Resolutions are sticking. Just in case one of those resolutions was “read more”, then here is a nice little offer:

For a limited time only, the first and second books in the Echoes of the Past series, Seeds of Autumn and Ghosts of Winter, are on offer on all major retailers for just 99p (99c in the US). So pick up your discounted copies today.

If you’d prefer to have a FREE copy of the first book, Seeds of Autumn, then click here.

I’m off to bake a birthday cake now for a very excited young man who turns four tomorrow!

Let me know in the comments if you have any book recommendations for me to read this year 😉

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Some of My Favourite Lines

halloween-moon

    It’s just 17 days now until Tides of Spring is published! I hope some of you are as excited as I am. (Plus it’s now October and I’m a tad excited about Halloween, hence the above picture!) I’m really proud of this book. It’s been a challenge and a joy to write and at a hefty 150,000 words, it’s quite a tome to get stuck into.
    I’d like to share some of my favourite lines from the book. Don’t worry, there are no major spoilers, but hopefully some intrigue for you that will leave you desperate to read more.

Favourite Quotes from Tides of Spring

‘We have endured winter, though it was not without loss. But spring approaches now and with it the threat of war. The Furies rise around us and are preparing themselves. The main assault could begin at any time.’

‘Did Red Scythe just try to unite the packs for war?’ Eyes asked.

She powered through the unclaimed territory, climbing up buildings, leaping across rooftops and vaulting fences with ease. Always chasing the elusive spirit that had led her to her true name.

His muscles were on fire with adrenaline and he felt his body start to change as the beast threatened to take over. He roared into the night air. ‘Bring the lightning!’ At his command, a fork of lightning tore down from the tumultuous clouds and struck the Alpha’s chest.

A shape rose up from the metal, seeming to separate itself from it and its heavy feet thudded as it moved around the throne to face them. The construct was made of plates of metal that ground against each other, showering the ground around it with friction sparks. Bits of the construct clunked and clanged about inside its cavernous body. It wasn’t humanoid, it took the form of a small tank on four lumbering limbs and its head bobbed slightly as it moved; its yellow lamp-like eyes shone with wisdom.

She didn’t want to think about it but she was going to have to confront the answer to one question, at least. What secret were they hiding in that bunker?

‘Wrong!’ bellowed the judge. ‘I may judge you.’

‘The last time the Blue Moon were here they shared their secrets too.’

‘Calm down,’ Stalker called out. ‘It’s okay, you’re safe.’ Everyone stood back in surprise as Hidden Voice convulsed violently and moaned in distress. His eyes met Stalker’s and for just a second she saw on his face as clear as words “No, I’m not”.

‘You have overstepped the line, Wind Talker.’ Eyes was puffing out his chest and bearing down on his pack mate now and Stalker watched, paralysed and unable to act.

‘I haven’t even begun to overstep the line!’

‘You have forgotten!’ Hands-and-Face roared.

There was a loud moaning sound and Eyes caught movement at the corner of his eye. His gaze flickered towards it and settled on something vast and monstrous lurching between the buildings. It was like something from a horror film, some sort of apocalyptic kaiju story, where a giant creature from the deep had surfaced and rampaged through a metropolis, destroying everything in its wake.

He was ready to put that event behind them, he had had his fill of repercussions, of echoes of the past.

‘Pointy, stabby! Bad fly!’

‘How dare you!’ she yelled. ‘How dare you risk the lives of everyone in this pack. You reckless, arrogant son of a bitch.’

They knew, they all knew, and never told her.

‘She’s hardly living her life. Living her death might be more accurate.’

The Knight leaned closer to Eyes. Cold poured off him and seeped under Eyes’ skin.

‘A fine young spine you have there,’ the demon sighed.

~~~

cover

I hope these little offerings tempt you to click the “buy now” button on the 17th October.

If you need to catch up on the series so far, than click here for your free copy of the first book, Seeds of Autumn.

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Blue Moon Giveaway!

blue moon

For one day only, to honour today’s Blue Moon, new subscribers to my mailing list will receive a free digital copy of Seeds of Autumn. Grab your copy today, Friday 31st July 2015!

There is also still time to contribute to my crowdfunder, which finishes tonight! So for more fab swag, check out my campaign page and make a contribution. You could get signed print copies of all three books, a signed print of the cover or even a short story written just for you! Check it out on Pubslush here.


Inspired By Ravens

I’ve always been fascinated by shamanism, which is probably why it wove its way into Echoes of the Past almost without my realising. As a teenager I would meditate for hours, searching for my spirit guide and longing to traverse the astral plain. Now I’m writing a series that features a magnificent plain of pure crystal that the shape shifting protagonists can travel to, and ritual magic that is sometimes performed in trance-like states. It’s not difficult to trace the inspiration!

Raven

Image courtesy of Willow C. Winsham

Norse mythology has also been hugely inspirational and has some wonderful examples of shamanism. Odin, the Allfather, highest of the gods, is depicted as a shaman in various primary sources of Norse mythology. He undergoes a great trial and loses an eye in order to receive the knowledge of the entire universe, he then spends most of his time in a trance, observing life in the other eight realms. He has two helpers in this task, two ravens called Hunin (thought) and Munin (desire), who fly out into the world to be his eyes. The idea of spirit familiars, or a shaman projecting their consciousness into an animal is common in mythologies from around the world. It is unclear from the original texts whether Hunin and Munin are animal familiars or Odin’s own consciousness. Either way, he uses them as his messengers throughout the nine realms.

Another example of shamanism in Norse myth are the berserkers, fierce warriors thought to channel the spirits of wolves, bears and dogs on the battlefield.

Archaeologist Neil Price has this to say:

They run howling and foaming through the groups of fighting men. Some of them wear animal skins, some are naked, and some have thrown away shields and armour to rely on their consuming frenzy alone. Perhaps some of the greatest warriors do not take the field at all, but remain behind in their tents, their minds nevertheless focused on the combat. As huge animals their spirit forms wade through the battle, wreaking destruction.

– Price, Neil S. 2002. The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia. p. 394. As referenced here: http://norse-mythology.org/concepts/shamanism/

The Berserkers in Echoes of the Past are based heavily on these accounts, and are able to channel “Odin’s fire”, or ecstasy to propel them to great feats of strength and ferocity in battle, as well as rapid healing. This of course is linked to the phenomenon of adrenaline enabling humans to display apparently superhuman speed and strength.

I have connected these two elements of Norse mythology, and so ravens feature heavily in Echoes of the Past. These enormous, black birds come and go as messengers for Odin’s Warriors, and are often seen observing Ariana and her fellow Berserkers. The symbol of the city of Caerton is a raven, and the oldest pack, The Watch, have it as their identifying mark. The shifters of the city have long had a close connection to Odin, and that is reflected in their traditions, their allies and their rituals. Readers will see far more about this history, pack symbols and the pecking order of power between packs in the forthcoming third book in the series, Tides of Spring. Ariana also begins to explore her ancestry, where she came from, and what makes her so different from other shifters.

It’s interesting that ravens have evoked similar feelings in different cultures, being linked to similar themes in mythology. In Celtic mythology they are thought to be messengers and protectors of warriors. Irish Celts believed that the Morrigan would take the form of a raven and fly over a battle, protecting warriors. The god Lludd was also said to have two ravens, like Odin. Ravens are also associated with wisdom, another of Odin’s attributes.

Image via Duncan @ Creative Commons

Image via Duncan @ Creative Commons

Ravens are heavily associated with the Tower of London, being a permanent feature of the historical landmark. It is believed that if the six ravens of the tower leave then the kingdom will fall. When the site was bombed during WWII and the ravens disappeared, Winston Churchill ordered them replaced immediately, fearing the superstition. Today there are seven ravens kept at the tower, the minimum six, and a spare!

It’s fair to say that ravens have inspired many people to incorporate them into their beliefs, so it’s no surprise that authors would draw on the strong associations and feature them in fiction.

If you would like to see how I have been inspired by these magnificent birds, and the shamanism associated with them, then do please check out my books, Seeds of Autumn and Ghosts of Winter!

Don’t forget, you can still nominate Ghosts of Winter for the BooksGoSocial Book Awards. For more info, see my previous post.

If you like what you read here, subscribe to my mailing list to be among the first to hear all the latest news about my books and for special offers. If you subscribe today you get a free copy of my short story The Storm Riders’ Vigil.


Metamorphosis

I am fascinated by amazing transformations. This spring, me and my boys have been growing caterpillars and watching their incredible life cycle. We now have four butterflies. Their journey from caterpillar to butterfly is something most adults take for granted, but seeing it happen right in front of us has given me the chance to reflect on the process.

IMG_6571I was talking to my six year old about it this morning, about how incredible it is and musing on what the tiny creatures know and understand about their existence. A female butterfly lays her eggs and flies away, she doesn’t stick around to nurture her young. When the tiny caterpillar hatches from its egg, all it knows is its current form. It has no idea, I presume, of where it came from. It sees the butterflies in the hedgerow, but does it comprehend that they are the same species? Does it have any clue what lies in store? When it diligently enters its chrysalis phase, does it have the slightest idea why it is doing it or what will happen?

IMG_9164Inside the little shell, the caterpillar decomposes and is rebuilt from the liquid, becoming, arguably, an entirely new life form, with nothing in common with the caterpillar that came before it. When the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, is it in awe of its own transformation? Or does it simply accept itself?

I can well imagine it confused by its new body. They don’t fly immediately, they crawl around their habitat, adjusting to the enormous wings on their backs. They are also very still for the better part of a day. It must be hard work, totally breaking down and then rebuilding itself in the short space of a couple of weeks! They seem to be resting on emergence, with no interest in food or exploration. They cling close to their shed chrysalis and wait for their wings to harden.

IMG_9174The butterfly is the ultimate example of a creature fulfilling its potential. Whether the caterpillar knows it or not, it is destined to transform from tiny crawling eating machine, to glorious, colourful nectar gatherer! Nature is packed with these examples, of course, but how often do we stop to consider them with child-like wonder?

Humans don’t undergo anything quite so dramatic, but then, am I just taking our own life cycle for granted? I have sometimes wondered what it might be like for a human foetus. All they know is the uterus, for all they know, birth is death. The point at which they must be expelled from their mother’s body may seem like the end, when to those of us waiting eagerly skin-side, it is just the beginning.

As a maternity care campaigner and birth trauma peer supporter, I have dedicated countless hours to researching birth, and literally held women who have been crushed by their birth experiences. My own traumatic birth was over six years ago now and I am finally coming to appreciate that it was my metamorphosis. Before it I was just potential. If I had the amazing and empowering birth experience that I dreamed of, and was able to have the second time around, then I would not have been on the incredible journey that I was led on as a result of that first birth.

Would I take a life without trauma? Probably, yes! But given that I cannot undo what happened, I have to frame it in a way that I can live with. As a result of that experience, I have become so much more educated, I have made some incredible friends, and I have been a part of making birth better for other women. It also meant that I had a truly incredible second birth, that paved the way for some serious improvements for others. I’m a totally different person to the one who went into labour 6 years ago, and a vastly better one!

Do caterpillars/butterflies find their metamorphosis traumatic, I wonder?

Echoes of the Past is about shape shifters, who often live as normal humans until their radical transformation. My beloved Stalker is totally unprepared for what happens to her and she is certainly left shocked by the change when it happens. Seeds of Autumn explores this metamorphosis and the emotional aftermath. Ariana/Stalker must try to work out how to integrate her new life into her old one, something she doesn’t master in the one book, even by the end of the third book this is an ongoing struggle for her. No longer able to live a human life, she now knows that lurking beneath her skin is a terrifying beast, and that everything prior to her first change was just potential, she was always meant to be a shifter.

I don’t expect anyone reading this to have discovered such a literal inner demon, but if you have undergone a transformative life event, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to my mailing list to keep up to date with all the latest book news. Sign up today and receive a free digital copy of my short story, The Storm Riders’ Vigil.


Sewing Seeds

It’s been a busy week since Ghosts of Winter went on sale. I’d like to thank everyone who has bought the book so far, your support means everything to me.

I’ve been working on book three, but became a bit distracted by a character nagging me to write about his history. So I took a little detour, ten years into the past. The series isn’t called Echoes of the Past for nothing. There are seeds there, just waiting to blossom, and I love weaving the story through those shoots.

seeds_coverIn honour of those seeds, I’m offering book one of the series, Seeds of Autumn free on Kindle for five days, starting tomorrow, on 1st December. Please feel free to share this promotion, and don’t forget, reviews are like oxygen to writers, so if you read and enjoy my books do please leave a review on Amazon.

I’ll be getting my new short story out to readers soon, but in the mean time, my previous short story, The Storm Riders’ Vigil is also on Kindle. Caerton is a rich and diverse city, there are many shifters who chatter noisily in my mind and their stories demand to be told, almost as much as Stalker’s.

I love hearing from you. If there are seeds you’d like to know more about leave a comment below to help me learn which characters and plot threads might make for popular short stories in the future.


There Are No Coincidences

iStock_000016905197SmallHappy Monday, folks. I wanted to kick start today by writing a little bit about the research and development process that has been such a huge part of writing Echoes of the Past. I have turned up some really fascinating facts and stumbled upon some rather striking coincidences. But as the title above suggests, perhaps there are no coincidences. Is it fate?

Echoes is not set in any particular year, I have deliberately kept it vague, but the entirety of Seeds of Autumn is a countdown to an epic event and the phases of the moon are significant, so I did use a real lunar calendar for a previous year to refer to in order to keep the dates and moon phases in sync. Long after the main events of the entire series were loosely plotted and in fact after I had completed Seeds of Autumn, I discovered that the day after the last day in that book in the year that I was using as a reference was a blue moon. One definition of a blue moon is the third full moon in a season that contains four full moons, which is relatively unusual as most seasons only contain three. For those who haven’t yet read the book, the main characters call themselves The Blue Moon. The enormity of this struck me and I couldn’t ignore it, so there is a reference to it in the second book, Ghosts of Winter (coming soon).

Photo by Sebastian Dario, courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo by Sebastian Dario, courtesy of Creative Commons

The series features animism and deities from various pantheons, so I do a lot of research into the world’s mythologies and do a lot of investigation to find fitting character names. The second rather large coincidence that I stumbled upon was also related to the Blue Moon. Echoes is set in the fictional city of Caerton. I can’t actually claim credit for this name, as a dear friend came up with it and gave me permission to use it. It’s origins are Welsh, the word caer means castle or fortress and the history of the city is richly detailed from the very first caer built in its location, which may or may not be in or close to Wales 😉

Now, the Roman pantheon features in the series, with one deity in particular as a rival to their Greek counterpart and so I sometimes find myself translating things into Latin. One of these translations was The Blue Moon. Google Translate gave me a couple of options, but one of them leapt out at me: Caeruleum Lunulam. I was stunned at the appearance of caer, the etymology is utterly unrelated but the coincidence was enormous. Readers will have to wait until book three to be rewarded with this particular morsel.

Two huge coincidences, or perhaps fate. Either way, too significant to ignore.

I love hearing from you, what curious coincidences have you stumbled upon? If you’re a writer or artist, how have you incorporated those into your work?


Work-In-Progress Blog Challenge

I’ve been nominated by the ever-lovely Willow C. Winsham to complete the WIP Blog Challenge. Willow is a friend of mine from (shock horror) real life, who is currently writing her debut series of novels, entitled The Virginia Dewhurst Trilogy. I gather it is a hard sci-fi series set in the post-apocalyptic near-future and features alien robots who take over the earth…. no wait, that’s not right… Run over to Willow’s blog and check out her fantastic writing and historical research into witchcraft and other such fascinating topics: http://winsham.blogspot.co.uk/

Work-in-Progress Blog ChallengeHere are the rules:
Provide the link back to the post by the person who nominated you (see above).
Write a little about your work-in-progress.
Give the first sentences of the first three chapters of your current WIP.
Nominate four other writers for the challenge.

My WIP is the urban fantasy series Echoes of the Past. Book one, Seeds of Autumn, is available now on Kindle and in print from FeedARead (links on right). The series follows Ariana, a feisty young woman with special shape-shifting abilities as she battles dangerous demons, deceitful shifters and her own inner-beast. The series is set in the fictional city of Caerton, which is almost as real to me now after working on this project for so many years, as some of the places I have called home.

The second book, Ghosts of Winter, is very close to completion, having been through several sets of revisions already and cover art about to be undertaken but still technically a WIP (I can’t seem to stop tinkering!). But for extra fun and games, I’ve decided to do this challenge twice, because the third book is well under way (nearly 50,000 words!) and has almost all of my excitement at present.

Let’s start with Ghosts.

Chapter One (technically a prologue):

Eyes strode into the shop.

Chapter Two:

Stalker looked around at her pack mates, three savage-looking shifters in their Agrius forms, seven feet tall and covered in thick fur of varying hues.

Chapter Three:

Eyes checked every room in the little house, there wasn’t much to see.

Wohoo! So, there you have it. Could there be some point of view shifting in this book? I’ll leave that thought with you.

A quick note for the glossary: Agrius refers to the beast-like form that my shifters can take. It is their most savage form, fantastic for combat, not so hot at light conversation. The name comes from the Greek myth of Agrius and Oreius, in which a woman is cursed by Aphrodite to mate with a bear. The result is the twins Agrius and Oreius who are half man and half bear. In the myth, Artemis despises the woman and her offspring, finding them offensive and the twins shun the gods. In the end, Ares and Hermes turn the twins into a vulture and an eagle owl. What that may imply for Caerton’s shifters, who believe they were created by Artemis, I will leave to you to ponder.

Okay, so for the bonus round, here are the opening sentences from the first three chapters of book three, which has a title but I’m not revealing it yet. I might give out a prize for the closest guess.

Chapter One (also a prologue):

She pulled her long, blond hair back and tied it in a sloppy pony tail.

Chapter Two:

Stalker watched him sleeping.

Chapter Three:

‘Welcome to the Danegeld.’

I debated what to put for the last quote as the first sentence of chapter three is currently a bit of a spoiler. So this little morsel of dialogue is actually the last sentence of chapter two, but hey, it’s a WIP, so it’s subject to change anyway.

So, I know that the prologue is pretty much DEAD these days, but I like them. They are a fun way for me to sneak an alternative viewpoint into my books, to give the reader additional information and lay breadcrumbs for the big overall story arc of the series. The prologue for book three came to me while working in a coffee shop one, rare, child-free morning and it was an absolute epiphany. I had been struggling with how to start the book, when I went into my notes about what the core plot of the series and that book in particular was it suddenly became clear to me how it must start. I am thoroughly anticipating the shock when people read it for the first time, I can’t wait!

So that’s it for now. All that remains is for me to nominate four more writers for the challenge.

Janna Kaixer at http://jkaixer.wordpress.com/ an exciting up and coming writer whose work I cannot wait to read.

D. M. Cain at http://www.dmcain.co.uk/ author of the Light and Shadow Chronicles.

Carol Phipps at http://www.niarg.com/ lovely fantasy author and Tweeter-extraordinaire.

Paul Cude at http://www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk/ author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon series.


Tides

blue moonI had a realisation today, so please indulge me in this short post about how I write.

I am currently drafting the third book of Echoes of the Past, entitled Tides of Spring. About two weeks ago I wrote a pivotal moment in the series, a game changer and key bit of character development for one of my protagonists. It was very emotional to write and I very much hope that my readers feel moved by it too. After writing this, and other previous “big” moments in the series, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted and have hardly been able to write a word since.

Today I realised that I tend to work in tides, high and low. I’ll be extremely prolific for a couple of weeks, churning out 20,000 words or more but then I need a rest, sometimes just a few days but after a significant emotional expenditure like this one I sometimes need a few weeks.

The second element of this realisation was that I noticed it was a new moon yesterday, and a solar eclipse early this morning (I missed seeing it but woke to a notification about it on my phone). This means that I wrote the epic chapter around the full moon. It got me thinking and looking back at these tides and I do believe they are connected to the phases of the moon, which is somewhat fitting as my series is so intimately connected with our silver satellite and the goddesses associates with it. During the waxing moon, as it moves from new to full, I am motivated and prolific. During a waning moon, as it moves from full to new again, I sometimes have a lull in output. This isn’t strictly true all of the time, if I am on a roll then a prolific period can last several weeks or a month or more. The waning moon seems to slow me down only when I reach a super dramatic moment in the series and need that emotional breather afterwards.

People have long connected behaviour with the moon, usually the full moon, which is credited with inducing erratic and even crazed behaviour in people, hence the terms “lunacy” and “lunatic”. Many also believe the moon influences birth, though I can’t say this has been my experience. I wonder what more subtle influences it may have? Does it effect our motivation? Energy levels? Moods? Do those who follow a fitness regime struggle to meet their goals at certain times of the month? Then there are other celestial events, such as eclipses, solstices and equinoxes, and of course a blue moon*. I know that for a week or so around each equinox I feel very unsettled and emotional.

*A blue moon is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. Seasons normally only have three full moons.

I would love to hear from you. Have you ever noticed any of these influences in your life?