Free Fiction Friday: Winter Tales

Curl up by the fire with these Fantastic Tales

These bestselling authors have teamed up to offer a delightful selection of new books. Available for free for a limited time.

Giveaway ends January 2nd.

 

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Weekly writing check-in: novella into novel

Quick check-in and a day late. Not a lot of progress this past week, but I did have a major revelation. The novella, which was supposed to be a giveaway for signing up for my mail list, is now going to be a novel. To be precise, the second book in the series.

The story contains a crucial thread for the overall series. And yes, I could weave that into the series, I feel it’s better if I simply expand the novella into an actual novel.

Once I made this decision, half a dozen plot threads popped into my mind. It’s not only doable, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

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Free Fiction Friday: Winter Wastelands Giveaway

Frozen tundras, hostile environments, dangerous predators—they’re fun to think about, but not so much to experience. Curl up somewhere cozy this winter and simply read about desolate wastelands instead!

Bundle up and hurry on over to the Winter Wastelands giveaway for something free to read.

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Weekly writing check-in: weaving a tangled web

Bowker is up and running again, and I have a new block of ISBNs. I’ve started the process of getting the large print versions of Coffee and Ghosts into the system. The interiors are done, but I need to adjust the covers because more pages = larger spine.

This week, I worked on the revision to The Trouble with Necromancers. I made a chart with all the main and secondary characters and then went through and detailed how each character interacted with Poppy (the main characters) and each other, along with other details–what nefarious plans they have, where they’re going (or think they’re going), any ties between them.

I have somehow come up with a story that, while contemporary, has a number of threads that start in the past. I need a chart to keep this all straight.

I also read somewhere that the protagonist’s journey should be strong enough that it prompts a change in the other characters in the story. I don’t think this needs to be heavy-handed. But I think it’s something to keep in mind, especially for a series.

That’s it for this week. Now, back to charting.

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Free Fiction Friday: Keeping Time

Keeping Time was first published by Kazka Press in 2013 and in audio at The Centropic Oracle earlier this year. You can listen to the lovely audio version here.

The mantel clock kept its own time. It was fussy, too, in the way old clocks sometimes are, refusing to work when wound in a way it found unacceptable. Because of this, in each generation, the task fell to either the youngest or oldest member of the household.

Maisey was five when her grandmother showed her how to wind the clock. She bounced on the balls of her feet, her fingers itching for their turn. She’d warm the brass key in her palm, the way her grandmother did. Every evening they’d clean the old clock with a soft cloth and lemon-scented polish.

“Pay attention,” her grandmother would say. “It will soon be your turn.”

“When, Grandma, when?”

Her grandmother chuckled. “Not soon enough for your father.”

But when Maisey’s turn finally came her feet no longer bounced. After the funeral, she dragged a chair through the gathering, cutting off words about her grandmother–some soft, some less so–and clambered up to reach the clock on the mantel.

“Maisey!” Her mother’s voice cracked, its edges so sharp, if it were a real thing, you could cut someone with it.

“I promised Grandma,” Maisey said.

In the middle of murmured condolences and her mother’s sobs, she pulled out the key and wound the clock.

When her father retired, Maisey offered the key to him. But he had too many golf games–and then, too many back problems–to bother with an old clock. Her mother spent so much time canning tomatoes (which no one ever ate) and volunteering (which gave her a headache) to remember the old timepiece gathering dust on the mantel.

So Maisey dug out a chain from her jewelry box and hung the key around her neck. The clock ticked on, grateful for the gentle touch of Maisey’s fingers. When she packed the car for college, she placed the clock in last, belting it into the front passenger seat.

She went through three roommates until the campus housing department found one who didn’t mind the faux mantelpiece taking up half their dorm room. After one too many broken hearts Maisey let each perspective boyfriend wind the clock at least once. In the end, she picked the man with the lightest touch and most nimble fingers. She learned there were advantages to this well beyond winding clocks. When she graduated, she took him, the faux mantelpiece, and the clock.

Together, they built a life.

When at last her granddaughter was born, a girl whose eyes shined each time she heard the clock tick, Maisey knew her own time was drawing near. These days, she polished the clock more often, fussed over its placement on the mantel.

“We need to spruce you up,” she’d say. “Can’t have you looking your years–not like me.”

The wood casing gleamed in the light. When little Tessa pressed a finger against its side, she gave Maisey a delighted smile.

“Oh, Grandma! It’s warm.”

It always was, this old clock, warm and constant.

“You have always been my loyal companion,” she told it on the day she loosened the chain from around her neck.

Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” But what if, for the briefest moment, she could defy that rule–and even Einstein himself–by passing on the key before passing on herself? When Tessa turned five, Maisey presented the key to her, chain and all, and hovered while the little girl wound the clock for the first time.

And yes, there it was, her life, all of it, from her own grandmother’s death, the scrape of the chair across the floor, sharp braces against her lips, the whisper of taffeta prom dresses, textbooks weighing down her arms. Timothy on bended knee, the mantel and clock behind her, as if peering over her shoulder. On it went, in one great wash through her blood–all of time, all her life, all at once.

“What now, Grandma?” Tessa asked.

“Keep it well, my dear,” Maisey said, “keep it well.”

That night, the clock stopped ticking.

The afternoon of her grandmother’s funeral, Tessa dragged a chair across the floor and scrambled up to the mantel. She turned the key once, twice. Tessa inhaled lemon-scented dust, then held her breath. Behind her the air shook. She turned, saw her mother, whose body trembled with sobs. Tessa jumped from the chair and threw her arms around her mother.

From the mantel, something shifted inside the clock. A single tock shuddered through its wood casing. Then, once again, the old clock started keeping its own time.

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Weekly writing check-in: large print and switching gears

Tea & Sorcery in 2019

So, this week, I formatted all the Coffee & Ghosts books for large print. And if not for that incident at Bowker, I’d have a block of ISBNs, and the titles would already be available for purchase rather than sitting on my hard drive.

I consolidated my notes on the manuscript revision, wrote out questions I need to answer, and now I’m banking it for later. Why?

Well, I’ve gone as far as I can for the moment. Also? It’s been exactly three months since I finished the second draft of The Trouble with Necromancers. It’s time to start again and get this new series out the door.

That’s right, 2019. I’m looking at you.

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(Almost) Free Fiction Friday: The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath

And the military-themed streak continues! This week, you can download my young adult novel, The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath, for just 99 cents.

But hurry! It’s only going to be 99 cents for a few more days.

Secrets—like war—have their own casualties.

MacKenna’s mother died when MacKenna was a baby, a casualty of the first Gulf War. Now seventeen, MacKenna has spent her life navigating the minefield of her dad’s moods, certain of one thing: she is destined to follow in her mother’s combat boots. But when she pursues an ROTC scholarship, she finds herself at war before even enlisting.

Her father forbids her from joining the military, inexplicable considering he’d raised her to be a “warrior princess.” MacKenna turns to her grandmother—who arms her with an ammo crate containing her mother’s personal effects from the war. Hidden in the crate’s false bottom is a journal, one her mom stashed there hours before her death.

While MacKenna untangles the secrets of her parents’ tragic love story, her own life unravels. Dad’s behavior becomes erratic, her best friend grows distant and even hostile, and a boy from her past returns—with a life-threatening secret of his own.

If ever a girl needed her mother, it’s now.

The pen might be mightier than the sword, but are a mother’s words strong enough to slice through years of hidden pain? Can those words reach through the battlefields of the past to change MacKenna’s future?

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