THE DARK LORD COMETH!!

Today I am welcoming to my FairySockmother blog two amazing collaborative authorspitchfork-of-destiny who have a really awesome book coming out November 1st! I first discovered Jack Heckel through a delightful series The Charming Tales. They include a delightful mix of classic fairytales and humor. To what do you credit your love of fairytales – was it a childhood addiction or did you wander into a fairytale in a past life?

 First, we’d like to make sure that your readers know that Jack Heckel is a penname used by John Peck and Harry Heckel. We’ll make sure that we answer with an H: for Harry and a J: for John as we go through the questions.

 harry-heckel10H: I’d like to say that I wandered into fairytales in my past life, but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. My first fairytales came from Disney, I remember Snow White and Cinderella being some of the first movies that I ever saw. My mother loved Snow White. At some point, I had a book of fairytales as a kid, far darker than the Disney movies, and I was both terrified and intrigued by them. Since then, I’ve been caught on a path to fantasy, whether in the form of fairy godmothers, mythical winged horses, or one ring to rule them all. Although sci-fi has a role in that as well. I think my favorite fairytale might be Doctor Who.

 J: I like the phrasing of this question: ‘wandering into fairytale.’ It reminds me of how soDSC00601.JPG many fairytales start themselves, with the characters wandering out of their safe worlds and into the wilderness. As for me, my wanderings began at a very early age with a wonderful illustrated edition of Grimm. Since then the fables have become a sort of obsession. I love reading and watching different versions of the stories and seeing how they change and take new forms for new generations.

John, I used “wander into a fairytale” because that is so often the way fairytales begin. I doubt that Sleeping Beauty had any intention of becoming infamous when she prickled her pinky on that stupid spindle!

How did you choose which fairytales to include in your books? Did you pick your favorites or simply plug in the ones that fit well as you went along?

 fairy-taleendingcover11H: I think the answer is that we found the ones that fit, but we knew that we’d have elements of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in our novel. John is really the expert on fairytales on our team, and the idea for the book was originally his concept. What do you think, John?

J: Thanks for the shoutout, Harry, but the choice of which stories to include is definitely collaborative. I would say that the fairytale archetypes that make up the underlying plot of the Charming stories (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and so on) are selected very carefully, but most of the references seem to insert themselves almost of their own accord. The wonderful thing about fairytales is that they speak a common language, and so they naturally want to be told together. I’ll give you an example, when your characters are talking to a bunch of precocious goats it seems only natural that they might mention their run in with a well-dress cat.

Absolutely, I agree, especially since I grew up having some very wise old goats as pets. You can’t even imagine some of the tales they told! 

Is The Dark Lord part of The Charming Tales, a standalone, or the first in a new series?

 H: The Dark Lord is a novel that can be standalone, but we plan to have it be the first in a series. We are working on a proposal for a sequel and have a tentative title and thoughts on the third book. It has a darker tone but has fun with epic fantasy much in the same way that The Charming Tales series fractures fairytales.

J: The writing begins again! We are in fact in the process of working up our outline and initial chapters for the sequel to the Dark Lord. But, for those Charming Tales fans out there don’t dismay, Harry and I have an outline for a third book in that series ready to go as well.

The cover of The Dark Lord is phenomenal! That eerie mist creeping through the window send shivers down my spine. Did you use a new illustrator for this book?DarkLord FINAL cover[9].jpg

 H: We had our own cover artist for A Fairy-tale Ending and The Pitchfork of Destiny because we were looking for a certain style for the series. However, we changed for The Dark Lord, as it has a different tone. Our cover artist for this series is… the art department at Harper Voyager Impulse! They engaged us in the process and offered us four options and responded to our feedback. We are very pleased and thankful for their hard work.

J: I just want to add another big thank you to the Harper Voyager Impulse art department. There is nothing more fun that looking at four fantastic mockups of your cover and agonizing over which to choose.

The one you chose really is awesome!! I can’t wait to read the book! The title of The Dark Lord evokes Harry Potter; what sources or incidents inspired you to write it?

H: Certainly, there’s some Harry Potter, but we were much more inspired by Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons. We tried to incorporate elements from a number of sources. This book is our homage to the great fantasy literature that has filled our lives.

J: The real inspiration for The Dark Lord is that there is a “dark lord” in almost every high fantasy novel you read. That being may be called Voldemort by Harry Potter or Sauron in Lord of the Rings or Torak in the Belgariad or literally the Dark One in Robert Jordon’s Wheel of Time novels, but he, she or it is always there, and usually wears black. It is the presence of these archetypes, similar to the Prince Charmings and damsels in distress in fairytale, that we love to play with in our novels.

Having been obsessed by The Lord of the Rings in college, it makes me want to read this even more!

Without revealing too much, can you give us a sneak peek at this new book? I, for one, can’t wait until it’s released!

 Thanks! November 1st is the release date, and we are excited too. Here’s a sneak peek at a section of the book:

Hello, my name is Avery, and I am the Dark Lord.

If you have ever read any other accounts of dark lords or, gods forbid, been under the thumb of one yourself, your first thought should be, “What is a guy named Avery doing being a dark lord?”

At least, that’s what I was thinking as I watched the final battle in the War between Light and Dark from the highest balcony of the tallest tower of my Fortress of Despair. Far below, on the poisoned steppes of the Plains of Drek before the blood red gates of the stronghold, men, elves, and dwarfs united against all the forces of evil: me and my army.

All day the Army of Light had been advancing inexorably, but every inch of progress came at a terrible cost in blood and death. It was awful to behold, and I wanted nothing more than to turn away, but I wouldn’t let myself. Since this war, for better or worse, was being fought at my bidding, I felt the least I could do was bear witness.

And so I did, though I was not sure how much more I could take.

The worst of it was the smell. No matter how hard I tried to abstract myself from what was happening on the battlefield, the smell would not let me. It was a mix of something burning and something metallic, something sweaty and something rotten. It got into my mouth and made me want to spit.

Gods, what could make such a smell?

The images that formed in answer to my unspoken question made my stomach lurch and my hands begin to shake uncontrollably. I grasped the rough wall of the parapet to still them, and reminded myself again that this was necessary and that good would come of it. The reassurance had worked well at one time, but over the past few months it had grown threadbare with overuse.

I was brought back to the present as the stone beneath my hands shuddered violently. Looking down I saw that the Army of Light had fought its way to the very walls of the fortress and even now were battering at the gates. My defeat seemed certain. I mouthed a prayer of thanks and was about to retreat to my throne room to await the inevitable when I heard voices drifting up from a balcony below.

“Cravock,” a familiar voice roared. “What news?”

I peeked over the edge of the parapet and saw Morgarr the Slaughterer, the merciless general of the Army of Evil, and his sniveling reptilian servant, Cravock. Morgarr was standing in full battle armor surveying the carnage of the battle with an imperious glare. Cravock squirmed and prostrated at his heal. Morgarr should have been down with his men. Those were my orders. But I couldn’t blame him for disobeying. I wouldn’t have wanted to be out there either.

“Your Great Wickednessss,” Cravock hissed, “the enemy isss at the gatesss. You mussst do sssomething before it isss too late.”

“I must?” Morgarr roared. The hell-forged plate that encased him rippled as it tried to contain his rage. He hefted Death Slasher, his black double-headed battle-axe, and pointed its curved blade at the half-lizard, half-man. But while Morgarr’s attention was on Cravock, and Cravock’s attention was on Death Slasher, the living eye embedded in the handle of the battle-axe was staring up at me with a burning hatred. It was hard to say if the Army of Dark was more afraid of Morgarr or that battle-axe, but for me there was no contest. Death Slasher was terrifying.

I ducked back out of sight while Cravock whined, “Pleassse forgive me, Great Dessstroyer. I meant no insssult. It isss only that I thought—”

“I do the thinking, toad,” Morgarr shouted. “You do my bidding. Order out our reserves, the blood orcs, the twelve-headed rage demons, the viper dragon—empty the fortress if you must!”

I almost felt bad for Cravock, because I knew he wasn’t going to be able to do any of those things. Earlier this morning I had given orders to ensure that the blood orcs were led into an ambush and destroyed. Last night I had painstakingly removed each of the twelve heads of each of the twelve-headed rage demons. And a couple of days ago I’d freed the viper dragon from his magical enslavement with the command to fly off and never return.

Cravock hissed, “Your Wrathfulnessss, we have no reservesss. The blood orcsss have been routed, the rage demonsss dessstroyed to the lassst head, and the viper dragon hasss not been ssseen sssince the night before lassst. All that we had hasss already been deployed. Only the power of the Dark Lord himssself can sssave us now.”

“That displeases me greatly,” Morgarr said quietly. “I must have an audience with my master.”

That was my cue. I left the balcony and made my way down to the throne room. As I descended, the Fortress of Despair shook with the impacts from siege engines and explosions from magical spells. I could hear distant shouts of triumph. The enemy had breached the gates, and from the number of abandoned guardrooms and barracks I passed, my army had been broken. Even the murk-scaled kobolds and mindless gibberlings that normally lurked about in the shadowy corners of the keep had fled. The forces of good would face no further resistance. A vast weight lifted from my shoulders.

When I reached my inner sanctum, some signs of normalcy returned. Flanking the entrance were my ever present gaunt-fiend honor guard. They snapped to attention and I swept between them as the doors closed behind me. I mounted the stairs of my dais of skulls and arranged myself atop my throne of skulls to wait the end. To pass the time I pulled out a small notebook and began chronicling my last day as the Dark Lord.

Everything had to be properly documented if I wanted to have any chance of including this in a later publication.

I had barely begun recording my impressions of the final battle when there was a loud boom and the doors to the chamber were thrown open. Morgarr stood in the vaulted doorway, bowing, his great horned helmet tucked under his arm. I gave him a negligent backhanded gesture. He ducked his head and ran forward, prostrating himself before the stairs to my throne. He remained there at my feet not daring to meet my gaze, though I could not say the same for his cursed battle-axe. Its red eye glared at me knowingly.

“Rise!” I commanded, and then realized that I was still holding my notebook. Hastily, I shoved it under my seat and tried to assume my most diabolical expression.

By the time my gaze was properly ominous Morgarr had already begun to plead. I cleared my thoughts and tried to focus on the behemoth of a man before me. “. . . I have done all that I can, Dark Lord. The enemy has breached our defenses. The legions of undead have been shattered. The beastmen and brigands have fled like dogs. The blood orcs are no more, the rage demons have lost their heads, and the viper dragon has abandoned us. The Heroes of the Ages will be here in moments. There is nothing more that we can do. We are lost without you, my master. You must unleash your powers to save us . . .”

I will spare you the rest of what he said. Suffice it to say there was a lot of blame shifting, minimizing, and justifying going on. When he finished I fixed him with one of my well-rehearsed, pitiless stares.

What’s next after The Dark Lord? Do you have any more manuscripts waiting in the wings?

 We have a proposal for a sequel to The Dark Lord, but we are also determined to write another book or two in The Charming Tales if sales permit. As for other manuscripts, we have ideas for several, but nothing concrete as Jack Heckel. John has started work on a few manuscripts for solo novels, and Harry has a number of manuscripts including some for his Crimson Hawks and Krueger Chronicles series as well as for a superhero series featuring a female hero named Rigel.

Have you always written fantasy or is there another genre that interests you as well?

 J: Most of my writing and inspiration contains an element of the fantastical in it, whether the genre be urban fantasy, fairytale or science fiction, but I do have a deep and abiding love for the locked room mystery novel. I have a dream of writing a series of classical whodunits with a curmudgeonly detective and lots of confusing plot twists. One day. All I need is my hand guide of obscure poisons and I figure I’ll be ready to go.

 H: I love fantasy, but for many years, I was known as an author of horror roleplaying games. I love sci-fi, having written material for Star Wars and Star Trek roleplaying games, and I like superheroes as well, so all things geek. Additionally, I have a desire to write at least one piece of literary fiction before the end of my writing career.

We have a lot in common because I love both Star Wars and Star Trek. How fantastic that you wrote material for the role play games!

Last but not least, every writer needs a support group. Who’s there for you to bounce ideas off and act as a sounding board for you?

H: Obviously, we work as a team, so that helps immensely. I have numerous friends who are writers and receive support from nearly everyone I’ve ever worked with. If I were to make a list, I’m not sure where it would end. Ultimately, my biggest support comes from my wife and my daughter. Without them, I don’t know how I’d write.

J: I couldn’t say it any better than that and so I won’t try. Harry, my family and friends are best support any author could ask for.

Please come visit us at www.jackheckel.com!

Kindle version of The Dark Lord: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Lord-Jack-Heckel-ebook/dp/B0105URUZM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476932863&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Dark+Lord+heckel

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-dark-lord/id1010696115?mt=11

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dark-lord-jack-heckel/1123384146?ean=9780062359339

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-dark-lord-5

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jack_Heckel_The_Dark_Lord?id=neH1CQAAQBAJ

 

 

 

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FALL

fall-stepsA maple stretches one scarlet branch flamboyantly in front of a cluster of green wild cherry trees. Fall is creeping in slowly this year, gradually shaking free of the blistering hot summer days, it eases in with October’s cool refreshing nights. Rain that evaded us for weeks has been pouring down in torrents. Grass springs up emerald green and stone walls are soft with moss, ready to show off orange and white pumpkins. Flower beds are spent, ready to be trimmed and tucked under a bed of fallen leaves and snow.

Fall days and long, cool evenings call out to the creativity in me, nudging and connecting ideas that cannot possibly synchronize on a sunny day in June. Every tinted hillside seems to spark an idea that I hold close until I can record it on my phone or paper. They accumulate like fall leaves. Too many ideas for a lifetime. Too many ideas for a hundred books or more.

I love to stand in the wind when leaves are swirling, wrenched from their anchors to dance and pirouette in the breeze. Can you feel it? Inspiration flows around us every day just like  orange and scarlet leafy messengers. We only need to pluck it out of the air and make it our own. Autumn’s inspirations gather in my brain like vibrant fallen leaves destine to produce a fertile wealth of winter tales, to be told by a roaring apple wood fire while blizzards howl outside.

 

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MORE WOLVES HAVE BEEN RELEASED!!

Grim Tidings4Today, August 11th (or almost), Grim Tidings, the second of the Wolves of Llise series will be released in E-book. If you are hoping for a paperback, you will have to wait until January!

I think the second book in any series is difficult to write. You try not to disappoint the readers who loved your first book but you also hope to snag some new readers, as well. Grim Tidings wasn’t easy to write. I was facing major back surgery and a manuscript deadline. Something had to give! Thankfully my editor, Natasha Bardon granted me an extension but I labored over this book in a very real way, giving birth to new characters and situations.

 

The first book, Among Wolves, evolved slowly during lazy afternoons and evenings.Among Wolves final Cover There were no deadlines; no thoughts even of submission at that point. I just had the desire to tell a story, to breathe life into my belief that words are vitally important in this world and in any other. Among Wolves expressed my love both of the written word and the oral tradition of storytelling.  I submitted it once to Harper Collins, during their two week open submission in the fall of 2012. No one was more surprised than I was to have Harper Voyager, UK pick up Among Wolves out of the over 5,000 manuscripts they received!

I’m not good at outlines. My characters develop first and then they take the story where they want it to go. Among Wolves surprised me in a number of delightful ways, where Grim Tidings grew darker, more serious in tone and purpose. To those of you who have read Among Wolves, I hope you will read Grim Tidings, as well. If you haven’t read my first book, please do, before reading Book #2. It will make things so much easier to understand.

I offer them both to you as a representation of who I am as an author and what I believe in. And should you feel motived, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That is the greatest compliment you can pay any author! I am honored that some of you will choose to read my book and I thank Harper Collins, UK again for this marvelous opportunity!

Your best bet for ordering paperbacks is www.bookdepository.com  They offer competitive prices and free world wide shipping!  Among Wolves is available now in paperback and Grim Tidings will follow in January.

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BETH CATO’S NEW RELEASE

BreathofEarth_500x332 (1) (1)Happy Release Day for Beth Cato’s Breath of Earth!! The gorgeous cover only hints at the spellbinding story inside!

An Excerpt from Beth Cato’s Breath of Earth

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

 

This excerpt from chapter 1 offers an introduction to geomancy.

Whimpers and moans welcomed Ingrid to the junior classroom. Nearest to the door, a dozen boys half sprawled over their desks. A blue mist overlay their skin, and beneath that mist were the sure signs of power sickness—skin flushed by high fever, thick sweat, dull eyes. The rest of the class stared, their expressions ranging from curiosity to horror. Some of them still showed signs of very recent recovery in their bloodshot eyes. None of these boys was older than ten; the youngest was a pudgy-faced eight.

“There you are!” The teacher scowled, as if it were Ingrid’s fault he’d been so inept with his accounting. Biting her lip, she held out the bag. He snatched it from her fingertips.

The chalkboard laid out the terminology of the lesson, one Ingrid had seen taught dozens of times: hyperthermia, hypothermia, and the quick timeline to a geomancer’s death. These young boys experienced the hard lesson of hyperthermia. The last earthquake noticeable by the wardens had taken place three days before. These students had been directly exposed to the current and hadn’t been allowed access to any kermanite. As a result, they spent the past few days bed-bound in misery as though gripped by influenza.

Thank God none of them were as sensitive as Ingrid. Another direct tremor would cause their temperatures to spike even more, and could even lead to death.

The teacher adept pressed a piece of kermanite to a boy’s skin. He gasped at the contact. Blue mist eddied over his body, the color evaporating as it was pulled inside the rock.

If she could see the kermanite in the adept’s hand, the clear crystal would be filling with a permanent smoky swirl. It took a trained mechanic to rig an electrical current to tap the trapped magic as a battery. When the energy within was exhausted, a crystal turned dull and dark. Once that happened, kermanite became a useless rock.

The young boy sat up straighter. “Thank you, sir,” he whispered, voice still ragged. It would take him hours to fully recover.

Ingrid looked away, that familiar anger heavy in her chest. Wardens and boys in training carried kermanite openly from watch fobs and cuff links, or most any other accessory where stones could be easily switched out once they were full.

She had to be far more subtle. Her kermanite chunks clinked together in her dress pocket. She had to take care not to touch them today, or the energy she held would be siphoned away.

Ingrid loved this slight flush of power, because that’s what it was — power. It sizzled just beneath her skin, intoxicated her with how it prickled at her nerves. Certainly, if she absorbed any more energy, she’d use the kermanite. She didn’t want to feel sick, though she could hold much more power than these boys, or even the wardens. Mr. Sakaguchi said she took after Papa — that she stored power like a bank vault, while most everyone else had the capacity of a private safe.

When it came to her natural skill, Ingrid often regarded herself as a rare fantastic or yokai — not like garden ornamentals like the kappas or naiads sold to the stuffed shirts on Market Street — but like the geomantic Hidden Ones Mr. Sakaguchi so loved to research. She was a creature relegated to idle fancy and obscure mythology, and aggravating shoes.

Amazon http://amzn.to/1noq6fE

Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breath-of-earth-beth-cato/1122785052

Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her newest novel is BREATH OF EARTH. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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SWEET RELEASE

Today I am sharing a blog post by Bishop O’Connell, a friend and colleague at Harper Voyager, who is celebrating the release of  his fourth book July 12!

His series is known for its incredibly beautiful  book covers and exciting plots which are reminiscent of Highlander with a subtle touch of Maggie Stiefvater. Here is the synopsis for The Returned:

The ReturnedAlmost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.

 Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects. Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?

 

 

Bishop O’Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and loverBishop of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, CA where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. After wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he settled in Richmond VA, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed “visionary” of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint (aquietpint.com), where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.

Letting Go of Your Work

by Bishop O’Connell

If you pursue any kind of artistic endeavor, you invest a lot into it. Ernest Hemingway once said; “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I’m not a big Hemingway fan, but I think his mastery of the simply stated shines through here. Blood, sweat, and tears aren’t always a metaphor. Having invested so much of ourselves, and our time, into our writing (or any art form), we become quite attached to it, and understandably so.

It’s not a coincidence my first blog post was called “Your Baby is Ugly.” In a very real sense, our writing can be like our children. We birth them, we raise them, we marvel as they grow and develop, we protect them when we feel they’re being attacked. And sometimes, we even see them die, but please don’t email me about what a bad comparison that is. I’m not saying that the death of something you’ve written is even in the same solar system as losing a child.

We do, however become attached to those things we work hard to create, and so it becomes a handy analogy. Through all the stages, there’s a final step we often forget in the earlier stages. Eventually, our beloved creation will take on a life of its own. It becomes something separate from us and ventures into the world. The hard part is letting go.

Now, I don’t mean in the literal sense of submitting your writing. I’m talking about the next step after that, when it actually gets into someone else’s hands. Once you share your writing—or any form of art—it’s not yours anymore. This might sound like a romantic notion, but there’s more to it than that. What I mean is what your writing “means.” Sure, you’ll be able to tell people what it’s about: the story, plot, and characters, but your thoughts on what you’re trying to express are no longer the only correct ones.

Each of us is truly unique. We each take different paths through our lives, and even the things we share in common are seen through lenses shaped by previous experiences. Combine that with our individual genetic predispositions (to whatever impact they may have), our ever changing world, and you can see how astronomical are the odds of any two people having the same set of experiences. As such, we all experience the world in different ways. Take Starry Night by Van Gogh, one of the most recognizable paintings in the world.Starry Night

I don’t know if we have any kind of record what Vincent was thinking when he composed this, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. Odds are we’ve all seen this picture. Some of us love it, myself included. Others are more sanguine about it, while still others don’t care for it at all. Are any of us wrong? Okay, that’s an easy one. How about this; what’s it about? What’s it mean? When you look at it do you see a serene and peaceful night? Does it bring back memories of your childhood? Or do you see a dark and cold night, imagining yourself standing alone on a hillside looking down at the town, at the lit houses where you know you’ll find no comfort? Or do you feel no strong reaction at all? Again, are any of those interpretations wrong?

When you let your writing go, you’re offering it up to the world. Some will read your work and have a reaction to it that is nowhere near what you’d expected, or perhaps hoped. And yet, the very act of putting it out there is an act of surrender. If someone wants to know, you can explain what you were going for, what inspired you, etc. But, your thoughts are now simply your opinion, one amongst many in fact. Think of a song you love. If the person who wrote it, or performed it, came up to you and told you that what you thought the song was about was completely off base, would it really change how it makes you feel? What it does in your mind and heart?

I posted some poems here a while ago, and I didn’t say what they meant, or were about, for the reason I just explained. For me, poetry is especially personal. I can tell you what I was thinking and feeling when I wrote it, I could explain the imagery I was going for, but that’s not as relevant as what you think and feel when you read it. Those poems, like anything I put out to the world, are not mine anymore. They’re yours. They’re ours. As writers, as artists, I think we strive for connection in our expressions. I’m storyteller at heart, and of course I love knowing someone was entertained by a story I came up with, but I’m hoping people find something in it that’s familiar to them. Something that says despite each us being unique, there are countless experiences, thoughts, feelings, “things” we have in common to one degree or another. In a world that is increasing isolated, ironically because of all the social media and interconnectedness of the world, we writers, painters, sculptors, actors, what have you, use our art like a message in a bottle, cast into the vast ocean surrounding our individual islands in hopes it reaches someone else on theirs.

I originally wrote this piece before my first book, The Stolen, was released, but there is still truth in it. If anything, I’ve learned just how right I was. Not only will people have thoughts and opinions about your work, not only will they differ from your own, but sometimes they’ll share them with the world in the form of reviews. It isn’t easy seeing a bad review, but that’s just another part of letting go.

In a perfect example of artistic insanity, the only thing perhaps worse than bad reviews are no reviews at all. I heard a quote attributed to Picaso, I have no idea if it was his or not, but I like it. “All artists are half-crazy, but so long as I’m submerged in my work, I’ll be okay.”

Bishop’s Blog –  https://aquietpint.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBishopOConnell

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BishopMOConnell

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bishopmoconnell/

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 The Returned ebook

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paperback
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Signed Copies:

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Cover Reveal: Book Two!

GRIM TIDINGS: COVER REVEAL!

Grim Tidings

Grim Tidings is the second title in Nancy K. Wallace’s enthralling Wolves of Llisé trilogy, which sees us reunited with our hero Devin, still on his quest to find out the true history of Llisé.

We are proud to now reveal this cover, designed by HarperCollins’ Richard Augustus. Evoking perfectly the forbidden mysteries of Llisé, we felt that this was the perfect illustration to get readers itching to open their very own copy.

Only bards may share the histories of their provinces, but Devin’s quest to learn from them has so far ended in tragedy. His best friend Gaspard has been kidnapped, Master Bards are being murdered and whole communities are disappearing. Clearly someone doesn’t want Devin to know the true history of Llisé.

With his guard Marcus and a wolf pack for protection, Devin sets out to discover the truth. But as terrible secrets come to light, Devin realizes that some knowledge can be deadly.

Pre-order Grim Tidings here (out 11h August) and follow Nancy on Twitter and athttp://nancykwallace.com/

 

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Cat Tales

Abbie and Emma in a rare moment of friendship.
I wish I had the ability to relax at will like my cats do. They yawn once, give a stretch, and the flop down in some strange position and fall asleep. Even as I lie awake for hours pondering every grave possibility that might befall me or my family in the next week, my cats lie strewn across the bed sleeping peacefully. 

There are four of them. I only intended to have one but when my daughter moved out and took her two cats, Abbie was lonely. She walked around the house meowing. When I was unlocking the door as I came home from work, I could hear her pathetic crying. Had she been at it all day? A mother cat and her kittens disappeared from the barn one night leaving one scared gray kitten. I named her Emma and brought her inside as a friend for Abbie. Unfortunately, Emma turned into Godzilla – climbing curtains, leaping from mantels and attacking ankles in the middle of the night. She was not a good companion for my aging Abbie, at all, but we had adopted her and there was nothing to be done except be wary when walking in the dark.

Grace, was also a barn kitten. She refused to sleep in the barn and chose instead to sit at our French doors in the kitchen in early winter, staring in at the lights and the wood stove. She slept on the doorstep, allowing snow to accumulate on her long fluffy gray fur, looking forlorn and tragic. We stood it as long as possible until one night my husband, who is, by the way, allergic to cats, came in with a sodden Grace wrapped in a towel and flopped her on my lap. “Merry Christmas,” he said.

She and Abbie became friends immediately. Emma continued marauding through the house attacking us and my daughter’s Golden Retriever. But I was convinced that somewhere in her villainous heart lay a sweet and cuddly lap cat. Three cats was definitely more than two and we adapted with extra bowls and litter boxes. Never would there be more than three cats, we vowed.

Then my daughter found a kitten with its eyes barely open tangled in the netting of the pea fence in the garden. The mother was nowhere to be found. A quick order to Amazon brought kitten bottles and formula. Feedings were a family affair planned around work and meetings. “Baby” lived in the dog crate with a tiny litter box, which she mastered almost immediately. She was a beautiful tortoise shell and resemble a bobcat kitten when she was tiny. Of course, as she grew and was allowed out to explore the house, she made herself right at home. Baby became Cat No. 4 in our one cat household. She is without a doubt the most affectionate cat we have ever had. She stands and puts her paws on my knee to be picked up and falls asleep over my shoulder while I’m writing. Unfortunately she never acquired a name that stuck except Baby. She was a sweet bonus to the one cat house!

I can’t believe there will ever be five cats. The plan is, to help my husband’s allergies, to gradually decrease the number as the cats age. Dennie is afraid they will outlive him. But they are like children – which one could I do without? Emma has mellowed after a dash outside had her frolicking through the fields for weeks. I’m not sure what happened to her on her vacation but she returned subdued and humble – not a bad thing for Godzilla. Each cat has a distinct personality but they are all loved.

Grace asleep on my knee.

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