BOOK TITLE: Sydney and Vicky Dine Around the World
GENRE: Children’s Picture Book Age 3-7 (information based
PUBLISHER: Currently seeking a publisher
tell us about yourself.Kristin Halligan is a second grade teacher at
an International School in Northern Thailand. She holds a B.A. in
Sociology and a Masters degree in International Education. Kristin is a
self proclaimed cultural anthropologist and travel enthusiast. She is
fluent in Thai and loves to explore culture through linguistics.
Alana loves travel and has been exploring Asia
while teaching English for the past two years. Alana holds a B.A. in
Philosophy and a B.F.A. in Drama. She is a member of SCBWI.
Please tell us
your latest news.We have now completed two books in our Around the World
series; Sydney and Vicky Dine Around the World and Sydney and Vicky
Celebrate Around the World. Other titles are in progress. We are actively seeking
the perfect publisher for our series.
you to write your first book?I was working as a kindergarten teacher in an
international environment.In this
position, I ate lunch with my students. I was disgusted by a child’s lack of table manners.My initial reaction was “How can I
teach him to use a fork and knife?”Then it occurred to me, maybe the dining etiquette in his culture is
different than mine. This led me
to the idea for a book that showed children that something as simple as eating
is different in many cultures.- Alana
What was the
toughest criticism given to you? After our initial
meeting with an editor, she told us we needed a hook.She said that our book did not have enough substance for a
child or parent to want to read.At this point our book was nonfiction. We took her advice and introduced
two likeable characters and a subplot which gave our book depth and brought our
vision to life. – Alana and Kristin
What was the
biggest compliment?- My mom has always been my
toughest critic and she loved the book. –Alana
Do you ever have
writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?Writing as a team is a great way
to avoid writer’s block.Usually
if one of us is feeling less inspired than the other, we bounce ideas off each
other and get in a creative zone.-Kristin
Did you learn
anything from writing your book, and what was it?I learned about a particularly
interesting eating practice in Ethiopia.I also learned a lot about meter, stressed and unstressed syllables, as
the body of our book is written in iambs. –Kristin
What do you plan
for the future?We are currently building a website in order to develop
our web presence.We have two
picture books in the works.
Tell us about
the current book you’re promoting.When Sydney and Vicky have lunch together at
their school cafeteria, Sydney is disgusted with his carefree friend’s
horrifying table manners. This sparks the beginning of the seven year old friend’s
magical journey; exploring dining customs in various countries throughout the
world. “Sydney and Vicky Dine Around the World” is an information-based
adventure book, exploring table manners around the world.There are two main characters in
“Sydney and Vicky Dine around the World”. They are in second grade and
are best friends. Sydney is a seven year old boy, who is a bookworm, and loves
to acquire knowledge. Vicky is a happy go-lucky, carefree girl who is also
seven years old. Vicky has horrible table manners. She also possesses a special
power. Vicky can fold a piece of paper into something magical that enables her
and her friend to journey around the world seeking information. –Alana and Kristin
What genre do
you write in and why?This series fits into the genre of information based
fictional picture books.We
decided that this was the best way to deliver the message of the series in an
entertaining and fun way.- Alana and Kristin
is your experience working or being around children or teens?I am a second grade school teacher and a mom.I am around children all the time. I
know how they act and react to situations, what they like and I find it really
easy to relate to them. –Kristin
What do you hope
your readers will take away from this book?This book is a unique way for
children to discover that there is not just one “right” way to do things.
We want children to realize that table manners, which are culturally
acceptable in one country may not be in another. This book is the first
in a series that will educate children to accept and celebrate differences. We
also believe that young children love to explore and our series is a fun and
interesting way for them to do so. This series will awaken an awareness
of the expansiveness of the world.
What was the
hardest part of writing your book? Grammar.- Kristin
Do you outline
before you write?If not, what’s
your initial process?Yes, and then we conduct preliminary research and adjust
our outline accordingly. Alana and Kristin
first: the plot or characters?Both, because they are intertwined and cannot be
What do you do
when you’re not writing?I practice yoga, eat, and search markets for exotic
fruits.I like to travel and make
my friends laugh.-Alana
anything, bugs you when you read a novel?Grammatical errors.- Kristin
that I cannot relate to. –Alana
What book are
you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?The
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.I really like it because it is nonfiction that is
in an interesting and readable way.-Kristin
writing space.Skype and Google Documents.We don’t live in the same country so these modern
conveniences are extremely helpful.
My first three poetry books each had a definite theme
(unemployment, cancer, and a return to “ordinary” days). I hope those books help
others who are going through difficult times, but I wanted this book to be more
free-flowing. Her House and Other Poems
is based on my observations of nature, relationships, intimacy, the joys and
challenges of growing older… It’s a deeper look at, and appreciation of, the
people and things we encounter every day and I hope it speaks to everyone on
Are you a
full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Once upon a time I was a full-time writer, but financial necessity
has forced me into a day job, particularly for the health benefits. True for
many writers, I suppose. I’m lucky, though, that my job requires no after-hours
work, so my nights and weekends are free for writing or promoting (something we
all have to do more of these days) or reading (a huge part of being a writer).
And, since I work in a school, I am incredibly fortunate to have summers to
delve into projects.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first poem when I was eight, but no one ever told
me I could be a writer until I was in college, and even then I didn’t know how
to go about it. So, I taught school for 14 years, worked several years as an
editor, and published magazine articles, columns, etc., before I had enough courage
to submit my poetry as a book manuscript.
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope readers will find a bit of themselves in my work.
John Keats said, “Poetry…should strike the reader as a
wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance.” Each
poem should mean something different to different readers. I don’t believe
there is any one way to interpret any poem by any writer. If readers smile or
cry or just enjoy a poem without knowing why, I’ll be quite content!
Why are you drawn to poetry?
It’s a passion, a love, something that has been part of me
for as long as I can recall. Poetry has a way of touching the heart.
Would you say poetry is easier or harder to write than
fiction and why?
For me, it’s harder. I struggle to find the right line, the
right phrase, the right word. And I frequently shred poems that just aren’t
coming together. For every poem I write, I probably toss half a dozen. Even
after Her House was accepted for
publication, my editor narrowed down the 100 poems I’d submitted to 56 of the
strongest. You have to be willing to look at your work objectively and have
your editor/publisher do the same.
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do
you get past it?
The toughest part is knowing that despite pouring all your
emotions and hard work into your writing, realistically, few people beyond
family and friends will ever see it unless you’re a big name. Still, I keep
going because I can’t imagine NOT writing.
Is there anything in your poetry based upon a real life
event? If so, tell me about it.
I think most poetry is based on real events. The first poem
in this book is about washing dishes with my grandmother, to whom the book is
dedicated. I write about past memories, current situations, and try to examine
how connections are made between people, between people and the
environment—even the connections we make with our own hearts, minds, and souls.
We can never stop discovering who we are and where we “fit” in this world.
What about your poetry makes it special?
I suppose I think it’s special because readers may nod in
recognition as they read certain poems. It’s accessible, not abstract.
What is your marketing plan?
My marketing plan is to get the word out in as many ways as
I can (with as little money as I can!). I send out review copies, do blog
interviews (THANK you, Penny!), promote on social media sites, and so on. I
also create a promotional item for each book. For this book, I had coasters
made with the title and website. In addition to putting them out at poetry
readings, I left them at bars and liquor stores to be given away, along with
flyers that advertised the book’s launch and signing, which was in June. And, I
finally jumped on the book trailer wagon and invested in having someone create
one for me. I am SO glad I did. Please, please take a look (it’s a little over
a minute long—part of the key is to make it short): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG4nC3HVUdA
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Here is the first part of a poem called “For My Daughters.”
I have loved you since before you were born
There is not one thing you could do or say
to make me walk away
You are my rays of sun
opening to dawn’s light
shooting across sky
dancing through waves
Any tips for new writers hoping to write poetry?
Read, read, read. And not just poetry, but many genres.
Observe, observe, observe. Keep your eyes and ears open and see and hear things
as if for the first time. Feel the
wonder in that sensation and acknowledge it with your words.
Her House and Other Poems is a culmination of observation, reflecting on those details that so often pass by undetected, yet play an enormous part in our lives. Along the way we examine our fragile bargain with nature—and how close we are to chaos when nature reminds us just who is in charge. Long countryside walks, a good glass of wine, family and friends, growing older… all these Merritt celebrates with gratitude.
“Here we have an eye open to the world, that poem by poem brings that world into view for all to see, and to be nurtured by.” ~David Kherdian, Author of Living in Quiet: New and Selected Poems
“Her House is filled with delicious morsels for the poetic palate.” ~Dave Morrison, Author of Fail
Please tell us
about yourself.My heart is full being a wife and a mother of two busy
boys.I have been teaching
elementary school for 15 years, and my latest endeavor of becoming an
author.I grew up in the beautiful
mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado and directly from graduating from college,
I accepted a job in Southern California, where I still reside.
Are you a
full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?I am
happily kept busy with my husband and two young sons, and being a full-time
elementary teacher.But, there is
always time to write.I like to
get up early when everything is quiet except for the story in my head.My family knows how writing is
important to me, and they let me sneak away every now and again to write.I couldn’t have written my book without
their love and support!
you to write your first book? After years of telling
this story to my students, I finally decided to follow through with the notion
that “someday” I’ll write this as a children’s book.When that day arrived, the words came from my heart, and my
memories, of how a simple birdhouse helped shape the person I would become.The message of The Perfect Birdhouse is for anyone who sets out on a journey, and
lands at an unexpected destination.There is beauty in all of life’s experiences, even if it’s not what you
were hoping it would be.
What do you do
when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?We are a
big baseball family. Both boys play baseball, my husband coaches, and I’m their
biggest fan!We go to the
mountains as much as possible, and we can all agree that fishing is a great way
to spend time together.
Do you ever have
writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?For me, writer’s block seems to
creep in when I start self-doubting my work.I’ve found the best way to break through is to just start
writing…anything!I can always go
back and revisit and revise.
What gave you
the idea for this particular book? The events that
inspired The Perfect Birdhouse taught
me a valuable lesson that I’ve carried with me my entire life.My hope was that others could
appreciate the message and it could help them when things don’t always go as
planned.I wrote this book for
children and adults, as we all face adversity.There is value in all of life’s experiences.
What do you hope
readers will take away from your book? I had always
dreamed of holding my story in my hands.I found a wonderful illustrator, worked hard, and learned a lot about
self-publishing to make that dream a reality.I want readers to know that they have the power to make
their dream, whatever it may be, come true.Do not give up, learn what steps you need to take, and then
do it!I sign all my books,“May you always follow your dreams.”
What about your
book makes it special?My book is a true story that took place when I was eight
years old.But what is very
special, is that the story continued 30 years later, when something happened
that I thought was impossible.I
had to add to my book to rewrite the ending, and added a photograph to show
that what I thought was impossible, was indeed possible!
Are the characters in your story
based on real people? Yes!All the characters are actual people~my
little brother, parents, and of course, my little birds, George and Ann.
What has been the most challenging
part of writing? There have
been a lot of challenges~but good ones that have taught me a lot.There is so much more that goes into a
writing a book than I ever imagined.But one of the biggest challenges is being patient.It's hard to do when there are so many
steps in the process, but I've tried not to get over anxious and do everything
the best I can, and not rush through it.
What has surprised you about
writing? The most
unexpected surprise for me was the friendship that I formed with my
illustrator, Vicky Bowes.She and
I did not know each other when this started, and to this day, we've never
met.But, one of the greatest
gifts I have received is gaining a new friend and knowing someone as
extraordinary as Vicky.
Do you have plans for other books in
the future?That's the
beautiful thing about writing!It
seems like a new idea comes almost every day for a new book! I do have another
children's book in mind, but I'll have to wait until summer vacation until I
can start it.For now, I'm
enjoying the ride of The Perfect Birdhouse!
Where can your book be
purchased?It's available at Amazon, and right now, it's on sale at a
GIVEAWAY: ARC…for Love’s Eternal Fire Be sure to leave contact information in the comment section to be considered for giveaway
Tell me a little about your book.
Love’s Eternal Fire is an erotic historical romance that takes place on the coast of Ireland. The year is 872.AD in the midst of all the Viking raids and a group of Vikings come ashore and invade the lands of a young widow. It’s an erotic romance my genre because the sex scenes are graphic and frequent.
What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Over twenty five years ago I started a manuscript with this title. I look at it now, it’s a train wreck compared to how I write now.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write full time only because I have retired and I am bringing up one of my granddaughters.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I learned to read and write.
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Enjoyment, relaxation, titillation, arousement and for some perhaps, looking at their partners in a different light, that being desire.
Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
First genre is erotic romance, and subgenre paranormal erotic romance. I love being an erotic romance writer and adore the paranormal. Yet I can write any genre when my muses appear.
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Edits and you never get past it. You are constantly learning and improving.
Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Yes Remembrance is based on my family. My father-in-law was a New York City policeman and so is my son. The time frames is days before 9-11-2001.
Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I don’t like violence….but highly sexual scenes are my specialty and my genre.
Chains of Lust After Dark
Suzzana C. Ryan
eighteen-eighty-eight London and a young woman is searching for her runaway
sister who left to become an actress. In the midst of it all, a serial killer
coined Jack the Ripper is murdering whores in the Whitechapel district. Vanessa
finds herself in Soho and on Broad Street, the heart of the notoriousRed Light Districtof London.
She’d hit yet another dead end in her quest.
Tired and hungry, she’s chased down an alley and her encounter is frightening
when she realizes her life hangs by a slender thread.Out of the mist and debris emerges a man whom
she’s convinced will end her days on earth. This dark, ominous yet handsome
stranger takes her body and teaches her the joys of pain and pleasure.
She becomes his addiction and he takes her soul then the blood that runs
through her veins. He’s Nosferatu, a vampire ages old and he’s found his mate
and the love of a lifetime. His name is Knight. This immortal creature has had his cold
black heart cracked, allowing him to love the gorgeous human. Together they’ll
search the streets for her sister and encounter the evil, killing young
prostitutes. Even Knight can’t stop him. Their search will end with a love so profound
yet doomed because of her humanity.Vanessa must decide life or death. Will the
truth of her love free her soul or damn it for all eternity?
GIVEAWAY: An autographed copy of the Paperback version of the novel sent directly
to anywhere within the USA and Canada. As a way to advertise Twitter,
I'll also offer to write a customized Twitter Biography for one commenter. That
person will need to provide me with a little information about themselves and
the name of their Twitter account in order to allow me to "get to know them".Be sure to leave contact information in your
comment to be considered for giveaways.
Please tell us about yourself.
Perhaps the most
important thing about me, is that I’m not who I seem to be.You see, C.G.Ayling is long since
deceased – while I’m obviously alive.I chose to write under a pseudonym for many reasons, some of which are
detailed on my blog, but one of which I is not, and which I’ve never before
mentioned.I am a contrary soul –
I have a natural tendency to never accept anything at first glance, or at face
value. While reading an article by an influential journalist, whose name is
long forgotten, I came across a line that stated something like this, “There
is never any good reason to write under a pseudonym.”Never, is an absolute and I don’t
subscribe to absolutes. Indeed, I immediately found myself thinking of “good”
reasons to write under a pseudonym. The first, and most powerful, was to cast
honor on someone other than myself.Bang, decision made. I knew exactly the person I’d like to honor – my
Godfather, Charles Gilbert Ayling, of whom you can read more if you so
choose.Now, in revealing this
about myself, you might have learnt something else about me – this might be
that I’m long winded, or downright deceptive in a truthful way – after all,
look at the length of this paragraph and then realize that I’ve actually told
you almost nothing about myself…
Are you a full-time writer or part-time,
and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m very much a
part-time writer. Would I like to be a full-time writer? I don’t know that I
would like to be a full-time anything – other than available to my family
should they ever need me, which most don’t since they’re all pretty independent
souls!Finding time to write isn’t
as much a problem as finding the energy – I have a more than full time job and
I really need my sleep. Add onto that home maintenance, week-long 24 hour duty
cycles every few weeks, and my energy levels are pretty much done for.
When and why did you begin writing?
For the first
twenty years of my career I was a full-time computer programmer. For the next
ten I designed and configured computer networks, and watched my
life-satisfaction levels erode.I
eventually concluded I needed a creative outlet to replace programming.
What inspired you to write your first
Since my dissatisfaction
with the world in which we reside has continued to increase with each passing
year (and I’ve now seen over fifty of those nasty little things), I decided to
write about a better world, philosophically speaking.Obviously, my contrary nature demanded I make this better
world seem like a terrible place – thus the birth of Malmaxa, literally my
What do you do when you’re not
writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I allow snippets
of thought to flow from my mind, through my heart, and into my computer
keyboard, which magically transforms them into little things call “tweets”,
which in turn are the components of a massive social network called Twitter.
What are your thoughts about promotion?
Honestly, I hate
promotion.Every time I think
about posting a self-serving tweet guilt wracks me.Pretty much the only time I can make myself do so is when a
subject comes up in my timeline that prompts a memory about Malmaxa.Fortunately, that happens a lot as
Malmaxa is really a philosophical work more than a Fantasy – see what I mean
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so,
how do you get through it?
Sometimes I wish
I had writer’s block. I almost never find myself at a loss for words, or
without multiple ideas to utilize in my writing.That said, I often find my perceptions of social injustice
render me unable to write – perhaps distress is a catalyst for some, I fear for
me it may be the opposite.I
generally overcome these depressing episodes with sops to my conscience, in the
form of tweets.
What are your current projects?
working on an apocalyptic thriller titled “Blind Sight”.Naturally it has elements of the things
that motivate me (aka philosophy) in the story, this time carefully disguised
as fiction which I hope will be thrilling.
What do you plan for the future?
magnum-opus, Malmaxa. It is a very long story, and very far from complete – but
then again, humanity is all of those things as well.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook,
Twitter, blog, etc.?
I have a blog
bearing the easy name of cgayling.com
– on which you can find random thoughts, samples of my work and links to where
you can purchase my novels.
I am active on
Twitter, where you can find me as @CGAyling
– Twitter is the place to get my attention.
I have a Facebook author page, but I
adamantly refuse to buy into that medium and don’t interact on it at all –
however it does carry a rather nice feed of my tweets, with all the extraneous
What genre do you write in and why?
Beltamar’s War, the first novel in the series Malmaxa,
is categorized as Epic Fantasy – but by now, I’m confident you realize my
choice of that category is more complex than at first meets the eye.What fictional novel is not
Fantasy?Fictional works are all
from the thoughts and dreams, and therefore the fantasies, of their authors.Is Malmaxa really “fantasy” as the
current definition of that genre indicates? What you’re going to find is a story
about character, and a story about a world utterly different from that within
which we dwell.Malmaxa is a world
where many of the things we hold in high esteem don’t even exist.Malmaxa is world devoid of the concepts
that have so badly damaged humanity – in short you’re going to find a world in
which the things that are missing are as telling as the things that are present.I know I should never dissuade readers
from reading, but if you’re looking for fireballs, princes, goblins, and trolls,
neatly set on a stage where monstrous evil fights purest good – then look
elsewhere, you’re not going to find a single one of those things in
Do you outline before you write?If not, what’s your initial process?
This is a very
difficult question as the true answer is both yes, and no.Long before I begin working on the
actual writing, I literally dream the story – if the dream is compelling enough
then I record elements about it on a voice recorder.If the voice recorder ends up holding enough information
about the storyline when it comes time to clear space so I can record more
ramblings, then I transcribe the elements into my computer.That is the “yes” part of the
answer.The “no” part is that when
I actually start writing I let the storyline and the characters develop as they
will.I know it sounds cliché –
however I’m confident many authors will sympathize with me when I say the
characters are in charge of telling their tales.Regarding the question of “initial process” – well, I think
I’ve covered that quite nicely with my answers to the outlining question.
What comes first: the plot or characters?
interesting question. To me, both are equally important.However, I think most readers are going
to believe I favor character over plot.The reason I think that is because Malmaxa does not have an obvious,
overriding plot.It has multiple
sub-plots, each of which tells the tale from the perspective of each of its
main characters – and the cast of main characters is substantial.Those sub-plots are each threads in the
overall plot, which I can summarize in a single word – namely “Why?”Why, has many answers and leads to
other single word questions like “Who”, “When”, and “Where”.
Which of your characters do you
love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
I love that
question!The answer to all of
those words is a single character – the antagonist, a Warrior named Adelmar (I
hope you’ll note my choice of words).I love Adelmar because he is incredibly fun to write – it is liberating
to take all our socially acceptable norms, throw them in the trash, and write
the primal character that results.I hate Adelmar because he is precisely how I define evil – utterly
selfishness.I fear Adelmar
because he wreaks havoc on the other characters I love, and he is also more
than a little of me.I pity
Adelmar because he is doomed to derision – most readers will feel little or no
sympathy for him.Adelmar is a
victim of more than we realize, his circumstances (and a particularly cruel
author) have shaped him into something we might find monstrous.When readers consider Adelmar, I hope
they overcome their righteous disgust and realize there are elements of him in
every one of us.
Did your book require a lot of research?
If so, what kind?
work is ostensibly Fantasy, where, by definition, things are imaginary, Malmaxa
takes a surprising amount of research.I’ve been described as a nitpicker, and quite rightly so.To me the tiny little details are very
important – perhaps because I’ve come to realize that we can control the
smaller things in our lives far easier than the larger.Because of this character trait
seemingly irrelevant details like character names and apparently “made up”
words are crucially important to me.I choose the names of every character with great care, readers
interested enough to research them will find clues embedded within them.By the way, I include a full Glossary,
which I encourage readers to refer to if they find themselves confused.One of the words unique to Malmaxa is “jumenta”,
again this is a clue – in Latin “jumentum” means beast of burden, and it might
point toward the story’s origin.Another apparently manufactured word is “Chukrah”, once again the word
has a human origin – derived it from the Hindu “Chakra”.The same goes for the names of the
days, and so on – in Malmaxa, the devil really is in the tiny details.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
What every sane
man does – I blindly obey my wife’s every whim!Do I wish I was joking?Not really, my wife puts up with a lot of nonsense from me,
so it seems I should at least make an effort to please her.All jokes aside, I generally work on
our house or on the property, where I do the heavy lifting.Isn’t it strange how when you’re
renting a home, you never have to work on it, yet when you own one the
maintenance never stops… I wonder why that is?
What, if anything, bugs you when you read
inconsistencies – I find I’m more willing to disregard the big things than I am
the small, nit-picking details.Something else that destroys my enjoyment is when an element pops up out
of nowhere – you know, those scenes that have nothing to do with the storyline
and everything to do with satisfying some editor’s need for action or political
What seven words would you use to
The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 11, Section 3,
Titled Victory’s Retreat.
Timeline: Late Afternoon, Thorsday, 2nd sixday, 9th Luna,
The groth, its razor tipped claws gouging for purchase on
the hardened scale shields, darted over the phalanx.Somehow, it avoided all spear thrusts and, with a final
bound and a hissing yowl of victory, it leapt down – to land directly in front
of Faroene.It faced the artisans,
completely unaware of her, and immediately began advancing toward them, slowly and
carefully, anticipating its allies’ arrival.
Brutally, Faroene struck the beast with her shield, hoping
to distract it from the artisans – easy prey for any groth.The groth, instantly on the attack,
spun to face her.Razor sharp
fangs snapping, claws scratching, it focused its full attention on her.
Catching Ripkira’s command to retreat, Faroene dashed past
the beast’s left side, keeping her shield between them.
Pivoting, the groth followed – intent on her destruction.
At the cry, ‘Beltamar falls’, Faroene’s heart and throat
clenched tight in shock.Distracted by this terrible news, she moved backwards as the retreat
progressed.Sorely distressed and
badly shaken, she moved by rote alone.Hard pressed to hold off the groth’s constant assaults, in no mental
condition for combat, she held her shield low to the ground between their
bodies.Arresting its every
attack, albeit barely.
With each thwarted thrust, the groth grew more incensed.
As no further word of Beltamar came, Faroene grew more
At an eerie wail, the rest of the pack turned tail and
fled.Only this lone groth had
traversed the phalanx alive.Perceiving its master’s horn blown summons, it instantly pivoted to obey
– only to find itself trapped, stuck behind the phalanx.With a vicious hiss, it spun about,
fixed its amber eyes on Faroene, and resumed the attack.
Still with no word of Beltamar…
Faroene’s distress turned to anger.
Anger, blossomed to rage.
Each pulsing, fiery surge of her fully ignited Chukrah
infused Faroene with energy and battle expertise.Her body hummed with power, every nerve alive, every sense
heightened.The world and
everything within it slowed as she embraced her fury, switching from defensive
retreat, into luring attack.Through her detached mind the disembodied thought floated, ‘Hounds are
no match for groth, foolish to call groth, “hounds”.’Immediately, replying to the silent thought, she grunted,
“But I am no hound, groth!”
Stepping back, Faroene felt her right foot striking a
A normal person would have tripped, and crashed to the
Faroene was no normal person.She was a warrior, Chukrah matched, and infused with Chukrah
Instantly, her foot’s motion switched, from backward to
Through her boot heel, Faroene felt the brush of the rock,
as clearly as if barefoot.As it
cleared the boulder’s top, three hands high, she switched her foot’s motion to
a smooth, backward sweep.The
boulder’s coarse surface caressed her sole.Its resistance to her heel told her it was solidly
embedded.Her heel informed her
when her foot cleared it, and her sole, when her foot hovered over it.
Changing her leg’s motion to a powerful, downward thrust,
Faroene rose, lifting as easily as if walking backwards up a smooth
incline.As her body elevated, she
raised her shield, extending her sword wide as counterweight.Her body supported entirely on her
right leg, balanced perfectly atop the boulder.
The bottom edge of her shield was now high off the ground,
where a moment before it was less than a hand.Her sword, outstretched, no longer targeted the groth.
Needing no more opportunity than this, the beast surged
forward beneath Faroene’s shield.Its serpentine-hinged jaws opened wider than any hounds could.Needle tipped fangs, exposed.
Her body lifted into the air as she reversed the upward
momentum of her shield, bringing it down on the creature.The copper bound shield edge crashed
into the groth’s back, just behind the neck, slowing the beast’s forward
momentum.Her sword, melded to
arm, slashed to her left.With a
decapitation kill impossible due to her shield’s position, she did not attempt
such.She simply let the blade –
an extension of her arm – chose its own path.
Her sword struck as high as was feasible, neatly severing
the beast’s front legs – just below its shoulders.Razor edge unimpeded, the blade flowed onward, in a smooth
arc.Her shield, still driving
downward, slammed the groth’s legless torso into the ground.
Even with its front legs lost, the groth remained a
formidable opponent, and far from dead.Unable to roll its eyes sufficiently to see its tormenter, it twisted
its head left, fixing her with a single eye.
Filled with malice, was that gaze.
Jaws spreading wide, rear claws digging for traction, it
started to lunge.Intent on
Looking at the groth, Faroene’s battle heightened senses
noted the slit-pupil, within its amber iris, its forked tongue, the razor sharp
fangs, the heavy scales adorning its shoulders.
Almost casually, leaning her full weight on her shield, she
held the frantic groth fast to the earth.Her sword reached completion of its forward swing.With a powerful twist of her wrist, she
aimed its tip at the monstrosity’s neck, released the weapon and grasped it
overhand.Reversing her arm’s
motion, she stabbed downward through the groth’s neck, driving her sword on,
deep into the earth.
Her blade now held the beast.
Doubly pinned by shield and sword, immovable on the ground
Filled to bursting with a choking mix of rage and despair,
Faroene’s mind gradually cleared.With every sense sharpened, she missed nothing… felt her heart contract,
felt blood’s surge through her vessels, felt sweat’s trickle on her brow, felt
her eyelid’s drooping in a blink.
Eternity passed in that motion.
Memories of joy, anticipation of pain.
Unbearable love, and its loss.
Filled with unutterable torment, Faroene stood a
moment.A statue balanced on a
boulder, frozen by sorrow’s chill breath.
Beltamar’s loss settled on her soul, clasping her spirit
within its cold embrace.
“For Beltamar!”No other outlet for her anguish, than her scream.
With a brutal twist, she wrenched her sword free of the
Heart’s blood – bright in the falling sun’s orange glow –
fountained into the air.Jaws
convulsively snapping, the reptilian hound’s head sagged to the ground.
With her shield, Faroene held it there, and watched it die.
That death brought no relief.
Tears welled in Faroene’s eyes, their mist obscuring her vision.Her body quivered, knees suddenly weak
as her Chukrah released her.