The uneducated rumbled Rube.

I’ll be honest – I had to look this daily prompt up and work out what it meant: Rube! It’s a word that I’ve never come across before. However, I have recently been writing a chapter where I think this is demonstrated…

The tower appeared on the road. Made from large grey stones, hewn from the local mountain side it was quickly lost in the canopy as they drew closer. It was a large square building with stables and cleared paddock beside it. A pair of bay horses looked up as they approached, tails shaking off the pestilence of summer flies. A large archway extended across from the side of the tower, over the road. Where the pillars of the arch ended, and on the far side of the tower, a stone wall extended. This was the border between Ipito and Staven.

They were forced to slow their horses, or charge through the guards who stood in the centre of the arch. Their helmets were rounded at the top and shone with polish. They were both tall, broad men wearing chain main beneath a tunic with the King’s crest emblazoned on the front. As Kit and Lyris approached, they levelled spears at the charging horses, the wooden butts pressed into the hard dirt and steadying the points. Kit’s pony was first to stop, skidding to a halt and twisting away. Kit turned her quickly and waved a greeting at the men.

Storm, always reluctant to obey anyone other than his own desires had run further and was forced to rear, kicking out at the spears. Lyris clung to his neck, praying that she wouldn’t fall off and break her neck, before they could rescue Arn. When the horse landed on his four feet again, huffing with fury, he danced on light feet and she remained, clinging to his main. Her legs and arms felt like water, flowing and trembling with every small movement. This was not the time to be afraid. The young woman forced herself to sit up. Sparrows were hopping between the pine trees and a hawk circled overhead, casting a shadow on the mottled ground.

‘Speak,’ the first guard demanded, ‘what is your business in Staven?’

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ The words tumbled free, breathless. Lyris had intended to introduce herself, thoughts of formal requests for help spinning through her mind. The young woman knew that she needed their assistance, and quick passage through the pass but despite the churning concern, the words came again before the guard could answer. Lyris steadied Storm with a hand against the tall horses’ neck.

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ She demanded, urgent.

The guard, affronted, glanced at his companion before, features stern. ‘Our question first, mistress.’

As Lyris opened her mouth to protest, he lifted a gloved hand from the spear and set the weapon on it’s end resting against his shoulder. The guard beside him copied his action and Lyris felt Storm release a breath of tension. Long legs quivering beneath her.

‘It’s our duty to stop and question all those who pass,’ confident that he had regained control the first man had settled into a slower speech and northern drawl. His a’s and r’s extending.

Kit had circled his pony again and drew level with his companion.

‘Sir,’ he bowed low across the front of the saddle, hand swept with dramatic gallantry to one side. The trader looked to Lyris, begging a moment of her patience before he continued. ‘We’re tracking a wagon that passed through these gates,’

The guards looked uninspired.

‘Has a wagon passed through?’

The young woman lifted her eyes to the heavens, the pale blue sky was starting to darken again. A natural rain was gathering at the peak of the mountain.  If they could move on with their journey, she could track Arn without draining her powers.

‘A lot of wagons’ pass through here, lad,’ the first guard lent on his spear, ‘but that doesn’t explain your business beyond the border.’

So this is more of an extract from the Poisoned Well and it’s the chapter responsible for slowing me down! The paragraphs from this section must have been written months apart but hopefully you can’t notice…

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Elves of Myst: Short Story

Midwinter was silent on the Isle of Myst.

The students knew better than to roam the corridors of the academy after hours, and the Myst themselves, masters of magical ability had retired to their beds. There was a rumour that professor Larkin’s home brew was more potent than expected. The faculty had been defeated by spiced rum and rich helpings of festive fruit cake. The scents of cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar and the bitter tang of alcohol still twisted through the corridors.

Mendlesohn the elf tilted his head back and drew in a lungful of the potent aroma, eyes closed with delight before a slap landed on the back of his ear. He spun around so quickly that his pointed green hat fell off and bounced along the cold stone floor.

Lia glared at him. All nine inches of the elf from pointed hat to toe, filled with barely contained impatience. One hand resting on her left hip, she gestured with fury towards the open door and the enormous evergreen tree behind it.

He stuck his tongue out at her, but before she could thwack him again, scampered towards the hallway. Elves had work to do on midwinter. On his back, Mendlesohn carried a sack three times his size. Confident that her partner wouldn’t be distracted, Lia bounded after him, her own sack bouncing along the corridor as they ran.

The tree was a beauty, coaxed in from snow outside and convinced to settle new roots in a gigantic yellow urn. It stretched far above their heads towards the ceiling, swaying a little with the weight of decorations already thrown upon it. There were garlands of brightly colour paper looped between the boughs. Shortbread biscuits in the shape of stars, flowers and the moon had ribbon threaded through and swung low from the branches.

Stood at the bottom, Mendlesohn watched the faint twinkling of fairies who sat on the branches, staring back with amusement. Lia prodded him in the back and he nodded, there was no time to stare at fairy lights, they had work to do.

The elf opened the worn hessian sack he’d carried across the island and pulled out a small gift. A wooden flute wrapped with a ribbon. He turned it over between his hands examining the name inscribed on the instrument itself. It was then that he bounded, leaping onto one of the long tables that stretched across the room. On either side of the table chairs were set, as though ready for dinner. In the front of each chair was a neatly written name on a piece of parchment.

Mendlesohn whizzed across the tabletop before skidding to a halt. He checked the name on the gift, before examining the name on the parchment. Satisfied that he’d found the correct recipient: Wesley, the elf set the flute down with the smallest thump and sprinted back to his sack at the base of the tree.

The elves rushed back and forth from the tree to the table places, tiny hands always full as they distributed the gifts entrusted to them. Still, the island was silent as their footsteps made barely a whisper as they ran.

Finished at last, with the first grey light appearing on the horizon, they collected their sacks and prepared their retreat. It was Lia that paused on their return to the underground, beckoning Mendlesohn to follow her into a small room with soft chairs and stacks of paper in disarray. On top of a table someone had left a plate with two minute slices of fruitcake and a thimbleful of Larkin’s home-brew balanced in the centre. The elves exchanged a grin. Dawn was approaching, but there was time to celebrate before the magicians awoke.

****

My response to today’s daily prompt of Meager I just couldn’t resist!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this festive little story from the Isle of Myst! There’s more to come from Myst in the Poisoned well!

Feel free to leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Wisps of smog spun around her

Two days to go!!!

In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Snippet please find a little taster from Burning Embers below. I’m trying not hard to reveal spoilers and ruin the story, so it’s just a little teaser really and I hope that you enjoy it! Remember to comment below!

TWO DAYS TO GO! ARGH

The study was cosy in the approach to winter. Behind the High Priestess’ gilt chair was an arched window where the sun shone through, fracturing on the panes and scattering across the room. The perfume scent was thicker and Feia saw an incense holder in the shape of a sun, perched on the large desk that dominated the space. The fire was stoked to a roaring blaze and wisps of smog spun around her. The sounds of Temple life stirred beyond the door as it closed.

High Priestess Fraelyn was seated behind her desk. She was slender, her skin the parched porcelain colour of someone who rarely ventured outside, and her hair was tightly bound. Feia couldn’t help that think that if anyone looked like a ghost, it was the High Priestess. She struggled to keep the thought in check. She’d heard too many rumours that the Priestess would hear stray thoughts, that she had been a Seeker for the Champions of Light. That respect for this woman was the only thing that prevented the Knights from visiting the Temple.

Fraelyn stroked the edge of her desk with an absent gesture. The sun broke over the high back of her chair and washed her in a golden glow.

‘You know why you are here?’ It wasn’t really a question.

Feia nodded. The fireplace flickered beside her.

Remember – that there is a full short story from Arenith available on Instafreebie, make sure you get your copy of The Last Charter.

Happy Reading!

Fibi xx

Weaving Networks

I’m a left-handed dyslexic and I cannot Knit. I love to sew, paint, draw and I’ve even turned my hand to crochet and lucette; but I cannot knit. I’ve watched friends and family knitting, and they always ask why I’m frowning at them. I’m usually not, but I am glaring at the whirr of wool between their hands because it just doesn’t make sense. I’m sorry, I know it’s a terrible confession to make, but I can’t get my head around the way the knot on the needle joins with the other one-and-why-doesn’t-it-all-just-fall-off?!

Knitting, I just have to admit, is a skill I do not have.  This is also not due to a lack of kindly (and very patient) tutors. I’ve had to make my peace with knitting, and continue to observe it as a strange, wool-based-ritual that I may not join. What I remind myself – is that it’s okay that the tangle of wool has eluded me because I have other talents.

Now, in my head is a Thunderbirds countdown of Five, Four, Three, Two, One – lift off! This is because Burning Embers is released on Friday. ARGH! That’s right, Friday!!! For everyone that has pre-ordered a copy online, it should be downloaded to your screen of choice or posted to you on the 1st of December – ARRRRGH! Time for me to hide under the desk!

It’s funny how this has come about though, this book. It’s been in the pipeline for so long, but it’s the way my writing interlinks with the rest of my life which has pushed it to the forefront now. Expecting our first little one in the New Year, meant that I was determined to pull this project to an end. So the decision was made to self-publish. All these choices are carefully interwoven, like fine threads that tug and pull on each other.

Having decided to self-publish, I realised that I had done all of my research…and that I still didn’t know enough to give Burning Embers the best shot at life, out there in the big world. So I joined a few groups of facebook, and the wealth of experience and advice has been astonishing.

When fellow indie authors are posting about how they’re selling 500 paperbacks a month, and how can they increase this? I just about fall of my chair in a scramble to grab the computer and shout ‘tell me all of your secrets!’ I feel like I’ve made connections with lovely people, who are all stitching together their books and projects with the same passion and enthusiasm I commit to my own work. It’s a beautiful community. Join us!

I’m compiling information and experimenting across the internet and I fully intend to share my findings with me.

However, in this final run up to the release of Burning Embers wish me luck (and positive reviews!)

Remember you can still pre-order a copy of the paperback and the e-book online, and for a short story from the world of Arenith, The Last Charter is available through instafreebie. Nearly 100 copies have been snatched up already, so make sure that you don’t miss out!

Happy Reading!

Let me know what you goals for this week are!

Fibi

A little flash-fiction to start the day…

I stumbled across a competition at Carrot Ranch, I’m feeling suitably autumnal this morning and so here is my response.

November 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story a chair on a porch. Why is it there, and what might it mean? Think about using it as a prop or the main thrust of your story.

chair.jpg

They put it out in the spring with the white-wash still drying on its arms and legs. Shoots of grass sneaking through the gaps in the porch.

She spent long summer nights watching stars fall from a sapphire sky. Propped up with floral cushions that sank between thin spindles.

Gold leaves gathered at the feet. A pumpkin perched on the seat and scowled at passers-by. Until it started to rot, and the nose caved in and the lid fell down.

Frost coated the peeling flecks of paint; silent and still.

The chair was brushed, painted and set out again.

 

If anyone else wants to enter then all of the rules are: here

Are you attempting Nanowrimo this year? I won’t be but I’m always happy to cheer you on!

Happy Writing,

Fibi

xx

 

YA Fiction for you…

As a lover of YA Fantasy, I’m always on the lookout for a new book to read. I’m eagerly awaiting the newest release from Tamora Pierce (February 2018 folks! It’s pre-ordered!) but February is still a long way off!

Now, if like me you’re waiting for the next book to add to your collection have a look at Dorothy Dreyer. All of the tantalizing information about her forthcoming release is below…

PD 99 cent promo

Who must she become in order to survive?

Since the outbreak of the phoenix fever in Drothidia, Tori Kagari has already lost one family member to the fatal disease. Now, with the fever threatening to wipe out her entire family, she must go against everything she believes in order to save them—even if that means making a deal with the enemy.

When Tori agrees to join forces with the unscrupulous Khadulians, she must take on a false identity in order to infiltrate the queendom of Avarell and fulfill her part of the bargain, all while under the watchful eye of the unforgiving Queen’s Guard. But time is running out, and every lie, theft, and abduction she is forced to carry out may not be enough to free her family or herself from death.
Dorothy Dreyer is an author of young adult and new adult books:
ENTANGLED SOULS out April 18, 2017
FRAGMENTS OF DARKNESS out Sept 13, 2017
PHOENIX DESCENDING out Nov 28, 2017

I’m sorry, but the cover is just gorgeous! I love the delicate scrolling and the story is intriguing.

Now, this is going to be added onto my reading list. However, my lovely blog-followers, would you be interested in further YA fantasy recommendations from me? I’m working on a monthly newsletter with the most exciting new YA releases to be included.

Please comment below, if this is something you would like to hear more about!

Happy Reading,

Fibi

xx

Don’t see me

He peered through the window that was greyed with dust. His fingers gnarled on the frame, nails catching in the curls of leftover paint. It had been blue once, the colour of a crisp autumn sky. Blue windows and shutters as eyes on a crisp pale house. That had been long before last winter or even the winter before. The shutters had peeled back, copper hinges warped and bent. The heavy wooden panels beat against the painted walls, and the fragile glass shivered.

His nose pressed against the cool glass, smudged the surface. He would not breathe. The fine hairs tickled his face, because the dust moved. It smelt like damp coal; dark, earthy and trapped inside for far too long. No one came here anymore. Except him. Except her. Eyes lashes flickered and he blinked fast.

She visited the house every year, with the turning of the seasons. A tall woman with broad shoulders and inky hair. She wasn’t like the other women he saw in the marketplace, or moving through the town. Bold women who were loud, or joyous or sad or angry. Women who wore their hearts on their sleeves, or hid them. There were women who hid in shadows and cringed away from passers by. There were girls with long hair flowing down their backs as they skipped and taunted their classmates. There were older women, hands curled with aged and features haunted by wisdom. There was no like her though. The woman with hair cut with razor precision to her chin. She was bundled up in furs and kept her hands hidden beneath her long coat. Her dark eyes were narrowed as she came and stared, and studied.

His legs, bent beneath him, started to cramp. He was older now, and it wasn’t comfortable to bend beneath the window to watch. Every year he wondered, if he should come back and every year he decided no. Then the season would change and he would find himself, slipping through the shadows towards the broken house. He’d break the old lock on the back door and set the rusted chain to one side. He’d crawl along the dirty floor and he would wait, perched like a crow beneath the frame. He always worried that she wouldn’t come, the woman. Yet, he always hoped that she would.

The muscle in his calf caught fire, tight and seizing, flickering. He pushed back from the window, mouth clamped shut. He would not shout out, he could not! He wrapped his hands around his leg and pounded the muscle. The shutters banged against the pane. Eyes lifted skyward he stifled a groan and the pain began to ease. Slowly the burning ceased, as though a brand was removed from his skin.

Had he made a noise, or had she seen the movement behind the darkened pane? Ilyad looked up, tears streaking tracks down dark cheeks. The woman. She stood at the window she was staring at him.

This was a response to today’s daily prompt of: Interest

The prompt caught my imagination and I hope that you enjoy! Did I manage to hold your attention till the end? Let me know what you think!

Happy Writing,

Fibi xx

News Update

Even more exciting news!

First off, another piece of flash-fiction is going to be immortalized in an anthology with proceeds going to charity; hooray! I submitted to Christopher Fieldens’ Sensory Writing Challenge and I’m excited to see another snippet of writing in print.

Following previous publications of the same type, this anthology should be available for purchase on Amazon during pre-release – super exciting! I’ll be sharing the details once they’re available, so keep an eye out.

Secondly, the target for pre-sales for the Third-Word anthology has also been reached. This was due to be in print before Christmas, and I’m excited to get my hands on the teeny-tiny book that is being created. I think it will make a lovely present and suspect I might end up buying a few more copies…

Finally, as promised work is going ahead with Burning Embers. It’s been officially sent to a professional Editor this afternoon and I’m feeling a bit giddy. The manuscript should be returned to me by the end of October and then…then it’s simply a matter of publishing! Eeeeek!

In the meantime, before I burst with excitement I can at least promise to share the cover with you in the next few weeks. Yes, the picture featured might be a bit of a teaser…Also, as I’m no longer following a traditional publishing route with Burning Embers, I can share some of the writing with you. I hope that you enjoy. Leave me a comment!

Extract from Burning Embers #BE – Due November 2017

In the heartbroken depths of night, exhaustion overcame her tears and Feia slept. It was a fitful restless sleep on cold hard ground and she woke when the first rays of light touched her. The world was replete with layers of autumnal colour. She lay on leaves of copper, geranium, magenta, burgundy and cerise. The leaves still attached to the tree were in the middle of transformation.

With arthritic movements she sat up. She pulled off the leaves that had fallen on her during the night. Her eyes and throat itched, her clothes were damp through and she was chilled to the core. She could smell the forest pine mingled with the waxier scent of the tree she’d sheltered under. Poking through the pile of cast off foliage were stalks of lush grass and a plant with purple and maroon berries that twined around the base of all the trees she could see, linking them. Feia pulled her cloak round to inspect it, realising that she’d lain on the vine. She found berry stains mottling the grey cloth like a bruise and she felt a rueful smile pulling at her mouth. Perhaps it was an improvement. She’d never liked the colour grey anyway.

She could hear the river in the distance and the trees rustling above, shaking final drops of rain from their branches. Gradually, she became aware of another sound. Crackling and spitting then a louder pop. Why had she not smelt smoke? She sniffed the air, purposefully, drawing it in, but the forest scent kept its secrets. Dread wrapped around her like a cloak. She wasn’t alone. Please do not be a man. Please don’t be Bill. She sent her silent plea to the Spirits. However, Feia suspected that if they had ever been listening they weren’t any longer. She was no longer a child.

Happy Writing,

Fibi xxx

Exciting News!

I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet again, I have been writing – honest! The Poisoned Well is so nearly ready, I can almost taste it! So close… *mutters and carries on typing and editing like a fiend*

However, earlier in the year I was so excited to win a prize for a piece of Flash Fiction! A Prize for Everyone has been selected for a small anthology and is going into print – sqeeeeee!!!

The anthology is available for pre-order until the 21st of August – ONLY. If you would like a copy of wonderful short fiction, with proceeds going to a good cause then please do follow through to Third-Word and make sure you place an order.

A House of Music & Other Stories is available to pre-order online from our website, for a month only, until 21st August!

A collection of eighty-word works from published, aspiring and casual writers from around the world, including the award-winning authors Joan Byrne, Sam Palmer, K S Dearsley and Hannah Froggatt.

This anthology showcases sparks of imagination from the fantastical to the obscure, celebrating the spice of flash fiction.

Sold in support of the homeless, each copy sold online subsidises the printing of 3 copies for the homeless (or homeless organisations) to sell.

There seems to be a veritable list of authors included in the anthology, and I am so proud to be included among them.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Fibi xx

 

The Dragon’s Bride

I’m Writing for the Poisoned Well is going well! I’m getting closer and closer to the end and then the editing will begin in earnest. However, for now I thought that I would share this extract with you. I hope you like it! Remember to leave me a comment 🙂

The Poisoned Well – Extract

They made a fire on the beach beneath the stars. No clouds covered the sky or hid the stars as they stretched out, wary of the flying bugs. Lyris buried her feet in the sands as they started to cool. Timmit told them about his travels by foot from Ipito to Golden Fort. He’d trained in the capital city before venturing out to live somewhere a little quieter, and further away from his family. Kit shared a story from the caravan, how Rafa had fallen in love with Kelanin and defied his guild to follow the wagon’s, forsaking his license of medicine. Arnit had declined to share a story of his own, and instead, Timmit had started to speak again.  An ancient folk-tale about a dragon who fell in love with a girl.

The mighty Arian would watch the girl from the mountains above the castle where she lived. With all of his years of life upon the world, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a guardian the pass between Veglen and Ipito and he watched over the girl and her family, and visited her in her dreams. Till one day, word reached his cave that the Princess of the land was due to marry. Jealous, he made a deal with the old gods, and traded his scales and impossible hide for breakable flesh of a man. Though he retained some of his mighty power, an ability to communicate with the beasts, the birds and the serpents of the sky.

‘I heard he kept his gold too,’ Kit interrupted and Arn, who had been sat listening to every word, punched the traveller in the arm.

‘Dragons are famous for their hordes of coin,’ Timmit conceded, ‘though it is believed that Arian sacrificed his wealth for this, a chance to wed his beloved before she could marry a Prince from a distant land.’

‘He probably couldn’t carry it down the mountain,’ Kit was stretched out, with his hands looped behind his head, and this time, Lyris prodded him in the belly. He yelped, gripped his side and rolled to his knees. ‘Alright, alright,’ he laughed and gestured for Timmit to continue.

Lyris must have heard the story a thousand times, but sat watching Arn over the firepit the myth meant more to her. The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, and with a final glare at the repenting Kit, watched Timmit as the dark-haired man continued once more.

‘Arian came down from the mountain,’ the Smith paused, waiting for Kit’s additional commentary. The traveller grinned, but remained mute, ‘and he approached the castle with an aura of splendour. The guards knelt before his power and he was granted an audience with the King. Arian made his request, to take the hand of the King’s daughter. For he was certain that she loved him as truly and as deeply as he loved her. For they had spoken in dreams about their desires. The young woman wanted to travel the world and save it, too bring light to dark places and the hearts of men. She had no desire for wealth or nobility and Arian knew that there was no heart so pure as that of his love. The King, believing that Arian was the Prince sent from the distant lands, was eager to agree the match and the next day. Arian was bound to his bride. The ceremony complete, he turned to the girl beside him and lifted the veil from her face.’

It had been difficult, to see Arn all throughout the day, without any chance to speak to him alone and ask her questions. To reach out and touch him, or pull him into a dark corner and forget that the rest of the world existed. The young woman watched him now, fascinated by his expression as he listened to the story that he too, must have heard a thousand times.

‘Arien had trusted the king,’ Timmit continued and poked the embers of the fire with a stick. Sparks shot into the air and scattered in the wind, drifting like fireflies over the beach. Everything smelt like wood-smoke. Sand covered her feet and hands and the young woman shifted. It always looked so soft, until you sat on it for too long.

‘Arien was furious to find that his bride was not the princess. His love had hair the colour of smelted gold and eyes as dark as the night. He turned his wrath on the king, and demanded to know what trickery this was. The princess, his bride and now his wife, was a woman with dark hair like yours Lyris, and eyes as pale as the jealous moon. The King grew angry and demanded to know why Arien, a prince of distant land could treat him so poorly. Arien explained that this was not his love, the woman he had come to marry. The King was confused, this was his only daughter, and a whisper rose through the court. Finally, a young woman stepped forward, with her hair the colour of the setting sun and the darkest eyes the dragon had ever known. His love, a servant, daughter of servants and granddaughter of servants. She had watched the ceremony with tears in her eyes, and her lover marry the princess and bound with blood.’

‘What happened to them?’ Lyris had heard the story, but there had been different endings. Sometimes, the King annulled the marriage and the servant and the dragon lived happily ever after.

‘Arien was bound to his wife,’ Timmit finished the story, ‘for his foolish belief that beauty could only belong to the rich and the powerful. When in truth, beauty is something that is born within, and more often found in the humblest houses.’ He prodded a lump of coal and avoided the young woman’s gaze.

Kit snorted and stood, brushing the sand from his trousers, ‘or he regained his form as a dragon, melted the King on his throne and flew away with the servant on his back.’

Arn stirred, his own hair the colour of burnt copper in the firelight. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug, ‘they say that he grew to love the Princess, though when the Prince from a distant land arrived, the servant girl was offered to him in marriage. Part to punish Arien for his secret love of the maiden, and in part to hide the fact that the King’s daughter had been married to the wrong man.’

‘What do you believe?’ Lyris joined Kit on her feet. Together they doused the last flames and scattered sand on the embers.

‘I believe that it’s a story,’ Arn smiled, and staggered to his own feet with a groan. He watched her, across the pit but kept his distance.

‘Come on,’ Kit slung an arm around her shoulders and led the way back to the boat, ‘tomorrow we’ll be docking in Toscun, and you’re still never going to beat me at dice.’

‘Because you cheat,’ Lyris and Timmit responded in chorus.

‘Everyone cheats,’ Kit laughed, ‘you just have to be the better cheat.”

‘You’re full of brass