Back at it again because well its sunday and the Patriots are playing the Broncos tonight and we all know how that will end lol. But this isn’t a blog about American football it’s about books and storytellers. So today I’ll be introducing to some of the short story/ self published authors
I’m starting with the lovely Lila Lestrange!
Lila Lestrange was born in Australia as the child of an Irish
soldier in the British Army, grew up in Germany, and likes Japanese
Okonomiyaki and Turkish coffee. Her national identity is “oddball”. Lila
graduated from Regensburg University in Germany with a master’s degree
in Early Modern and Medieval History, although her German school-leaving
certificate did not state that she was actually fluent in German. (Don’t
ask. It’s the little things that make life interesting.) Apart from
getting covered inch-thick in black library dust and upsetting hordes of
book scorpions, during her university years Lila discovered the
wonderful world of fantasy and role-playing-games. (And that the
pharmacy library has more books on alchemy than the history library).
After graduation, Lila has worked as a web designer, journalist and
translator and started writing ‘seriously’ after having a family.
Lila writes fantasy with a bit of a twist she self published her novel Black Silk and she even made a trailer for it which you can watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-c2pS4PPRU&feature=youtu.be
The city of Naressina is a prosperous crossroads of the world,
trading spices, salt, silks and every other commodity under the twin
suns. Merchant princes rule the republic alongside the powerful guilds
and the old nobility. But not everyone belongs to a guild. Most of
Naressina’s non-human inhabitants don’t. Nor do the denizens of the
city’s infamous Lowtown that sprawls around the harbour.
For the Wharf Rats, taking what they need – and running very fast from
the city watch – is a way of life. But when they break into the
warehouse of a wealthy cloth merchant, their latest caper goes terribly
wrong. Soon, the Rats are fighting a bloody war on the streets.
At the scene of the crime, the city watch have found a small golden
figure, wrapped in black silk. Who lost it there? The merchant Zîf
Kaliari is determined to find out. But their questions are more
dangerous than Zîf and his wife Kiana realise. What if the legends of
Naressina’s dark past are real?
Next we have Sam Plunkett or Plunky as I call him, a long time fantasy reader and short time writer, lover of dark and gritty fantasy and cute dogs. His work is not published (yet) so here is the first bit of his writings together with some artwork.
Snow fell gently in the forest. Specks of white forming together to create a curtain several feet from the figure on his horse. The world to the man and his horse was a white canvas with no paint, empty and cold.
The horse stood with its head down, its nostrils flaring with each breath that brought cold air into its chest. It shook its legs one by one to warm them slightly. The man atop the horse did much the same. Shifting his weight to stop his thick woollen leggings from sticking to the saddle. He patted and rubbed the horse’s neck as he waited.
He wore a dark green cloak that he had spread backwards to cover his mounts rear. His gloved hands rested on the saddle before him holding a well-used dirk. Only an idiot would touch steel in this cold.
The man and his mount had stood in the white canvas world for half an hour. By this point both were sure they would be soon dead if their accomplice didn’t arrive soon.
From the white curtain a shape dislodged itself. Another figure atop an unfamiliar mount. It looked as if the Gods had taken a dog and made it the size of a horse. Its snout was short with two teeth that stuck from the top jaw like a walruses. Its coat was white with dark blue, nearly black, patches on its throat and face.
The man was dressed in the same fashion as the horse rider. But for a quiver and bow that were slung from his saddle. A thick leather bracer clung to his wrist.
“Jerrik!” said the man atop the horse “what the fuck is that?”
Jerrik swung his head to face his accomplice. “This Dwarg. Big dog. Bigger than your people’s dogs. Very nice puppies” he spat out the words with obvious force. Having to bend his voice to perform to a language he didn’t completely know. “Come. I walk you to border. Before you’re… “He pointed to the horse “die of cold.”
He led the way and the horse followed. Its rider could feel the horse tense as it caught a scent on the snow. The Dwarg showed no interest in the horse, its head swinging from side to side as it snorted at the ground it walked over.
“Have you got what I asked for? I need it now.”
“Ned. You no worry. I always have thing you need” Jerrik pulled gently on his mounts reigns to guide it round a tree. “Dwarg clever. But bad eyes. Tree kill more than age” he chuckled at this, Ned smiled well naturedly.
They rode in silence for a minute as they negotiated their way over a frozen stream, the ice was solid but disconcerted Neds horse whose hooves slipped slightly. The Dwarg padded across silently.“Why do you need the potion so bad?” Jerrik asked rearranging an arrow in his quiver.“Your healers know more about the… Illness that hurt my tribe leader” he simplified for Jerrik’s sake. He knew that the tribesman was a clever man among his people and that he’d understand what he was saying.
“I’m no healer. But I’ve used this before. Lots will kill man. Small cure man” he pulled his cloak closer to his shoulders.
“I must help my friend, he’d do the same for me.”
“I know. I do same for Kolmar.” The Kolmar were Jerrik’s tribe. Native to the mountains and forests that covered half the continent. Few from the Civilised Half were allowed to enter the forests on the border. Ned was one of the few not to be found crucified on the border.
They reached a point where the trees began to grow closer together signalling the border to be close. They both rode in silence as they guided their mounts through the trees.
“Where can I get a Dwarg?” Ned asked looking approvingly at the lumbering hound. Among his friends he was the one considered to be the crazy dog man.
“In spring. Come visit tribe. We find you puppy. Show you how to train it, spend summer with us again. My sister miss you” Jerrik winked at his last remark.
Ned smiled as a flood of memories came to him. Mostly of a blond woman bathing in a river. Jerrik handing him the long bow that had been a gift of great significance. The Wise woman of the Kolmar singing their ancestral song.They had reached the edge of the forest when Ned woke himself from his daydream. They came to a halt as the last of the trees thinned out.Jerrik stood in his stirrups and yanked an arrow from the tree. It’s black fletching and the star like rune etched into the wood marked it as Al-Mur, another tribe that lived near the border.
“I didn’t know the Al-Mur came this far south” Ned said.
“Not all the time. I go talk to their chief later. Make sure he know you return in spring. Give you help when you come and find us” Jerrik said scratching his chin with the arrow head. This certain gesture showed that he would return the arrow as a gift. Among the tribes arrows were all blessed by the wise men and woman. Losing too many in a hunt was a bad omen, Ned knew this from the time he wasted half a quiver practising with his bow.
“I hope this helps your friend” Jerrik said handing over a glass tube. “When I see you in spring. Bring Tribe more glass” Jerrik grinned at the thought.
“I’ll find you some coloured glass if you like, I have a friend in Reener who blows glass.”
“I happy to think of coloured glass. Also bring me beer. Maybe I make new weapon for you for it.”Ned smiled “Sounds like a trade. Now I must go. I’ll be back in spring.”Jerrik held up a hand signalling him not to go. He leant down to his quiver and pulled an arrow out. Dyed green fletching and a rune in the semblance of a fish decorated the arrow.Ned took it and bowed his head. Without another word he spurred his horse into a trot. A glance over his shoulder showed only the Dwarg’s blue markings visible in the snow.
Two weeks ride to save his friend’s life, Ned was desperate to be home.
Another great short story comes from Alexander Wallis it’s called The Sea Between The Stars and serves as prequel to the novel The Way Knight. It’s inspired by the plight of daughters of narcissistic mothers and their attempts to get love from a withholding parent. It was a winner in the Write Across Sussex short story competition, awarded by novelist Kate Mosse. Alexander’s work is inspired by his working with troubled, damaged and sometimes dangerous teenagers.
Art by Ellrano https://www.instagram.com/ellrano/
The Sea between the Stars
The girl haunted the old tower, after her mother’s departure. Neither the girl nor her mother was dead but, like a ghost, the child mourned their separation. Each night she drifted from shadow to shadow, pale feet on stone, hair black as the sea between the stars. When the skies were benign, she was the storm that racked the steeple, torrential in her cries. When all the villagers were asleep, she was their nightmare unravelling in the dark.
Her mother Catherine had not been warm or loving but the girl had learned to survive on meagre pickings, crumbs of unkindness wrapped in concern. She could live for weeks on a scowl or a shrug, almost a month on a single kiss. She found inventive ways to summon her mother’s hand to her face, her cheek hot and red from the violent touch.
One night, the girl had watched her mother saddle a horse and depart. ‘I hope, one day, you have your own child,’ Catherine told her weeping daughter. ‘A girl as thankless and difficult as you. Then you’ll know.’
The girl already knew. She was unlovable.
Now she chilled the halls of the grotesque tower her family called home, singing to the ravens from the shadows. She damaged tapestries – scratching the faces of kings until stitches became scars. She poured wine over the cats and buried her doll, alive, beneath the earth.
The girl’s grandfather –and now parent- would rise from his chair whenever the girl came into the windy hall he drank in. He was a formidable man, once an infamous knight, but hackles rose along his skin as the girl crept into the firelight.
‘I’m watching you,’ she waved a finger in the old man’s face, ‘to see if you’ve been good enough.’ She sounded like her mother, but strangely older, callous and crone-like.
The old man’s eyes were grey-blue stones, cupped by craggy wrinkles. Those eyes had seen a dozen battles, yet never closed in prayer. They had not blinked when he had dislodged gold from the teeth of dead warriors. They had not wept when his wife was upon the funeral pyre. But they became wide and watery at the girl’s strangeness, his black eyebrows rising as he shuddered.
‘What’s to be done?’ Grandfather Jhonan asked the holy men, one white winter morning. He paced the airy hall, rubbing his muscled arms. ‘Some evil wears the child.’
‘Not evil,’ Adjurator Ivan replied. ‘Grief wracks her spirit.’ His voice became a whisper, forcing the eavesdropping girl to listen intently. ‘Many lose their mothers but is it true that Daimonia drove hers away?’
The girl broke from her hiding place, ran past the men and threw open the tower doors.
‘Dai, wait!’ Jhonan cried, raising a three-fingered hand towards the girl.
She cast a look back at their faces, each was as flush as her own. ‘I am death!’ she shrieked and ran out into the snow.
The running was heavy, feet sinking into white to reveal lurid green. Daimonia fell against a snow-crowned tree and leaned against it panting. Her nose streamed and fists tightened, the creak of skin rubbing against skin. The day was colder than a reluctant kiss.
Crunching announced her brother Niklos, trudging up behind her. Both their tracks punctured the hill, like wounds on the frosty surface.
Niklos frowned as he approached, his wet hair stuck to his face and neck. ‘Mother will come back,’ he told his sister.
‘Not this time,’ Daimonia sniffed. ‘I saw something I shouldn’t have.’
Daimonia’s eyes became small and spiteful. ‘Like your girlish face,’ she said. Inside her closed mouth, her tongue teased her sharpest teeth. The capacity to hurt was intriguing. To give back a little cruelty for the many cruelties received – it satisfied something growing within.
Niklos sulked then. He had a special face for displaying his pain, one he wore all too frequently.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ he complained.
An ugliness hung in the air. But Daimonia had never seen her mother apologise and it was hard for her to find the way of it. Instead she simply laughed.
Ravens circled above, their caws echoing the girl’s cruel mirth.
She found the stone on a summer morning on a day busy with bees and the leafy smell of the forest. It already looked human, sticking out of the brook like the head and shoulders of a drowning man. Daimonia dragged the stone onto the muddy bank, making little heaving noises. She patted the thing’s forehead with her palm.
‘Wake up,’ she told it.
In her room the stone sat by the window, where Daimonia had hefted it. She cupped its head in her hands, taking comfort in its mundane constancy.
By nightfall she was labouring beneath the glaring stars, the tink-tink-tink of her grandfather’s dagger chipping away at the stone.
Hammering the blade she cut away all that was inessential, hungry to find the secret within.
A face began to emerge, nose first, then mouth – lips twisted in a sneer of superiority. Daimonia continued stripping the face, releasing it from the primitive rock. Day and night she laboured, keeping the tower awake.
Until she found the face of her mother.
The visage had emerged so gradually that Daimonia trembled to realise what she had created. She fell back upon her bed, looking at the features as if for the first time, so like her own face but with a tip of the neck, a lowering of the brow that implied profound condemnation. So many times she had seen it but only now, in flawless repose, could she wonder at what events might have shaped such sad contempt for the world.
Daimonia curled around the stone, her slender arm reaching across its shoulder, and lay her head upon its head. It was cold, but no colder than the stiff figure she had often tried to squeeze. The godlike face would not leave her, nor offer any reproof. It could not shriek or bare its teeth, nor rip its own hair out in anger. The girl clung to it, as if to a tree in a storm, allowing her heart to enjoy its silent permanence.
We move on to Æsc Adams and James Downe. Æsc and James are the creators of The Legacy of Ash world, think of them as the next Erikson and Esslemont ( you know those guys from the epic Malazan world). While James has already finished his first novel Æsc is busy working on his shared world novel.
Æsc is employed in the security field for more than a decade, Æsc has had the privilege of training under and alongside some of the world’s most skilled warriors, including members of the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, British Special Boat Service and the Israeli Special Forces.
Writing gritty fantasy is the natural outgrowth of his love for fantasy fiction and RPGs. His passions include archaeology, anthropology, ancient religions, dead languages, and Oxford commas.
Æsc lives near Kingston, Ontario with his wife, two children, and pack of nearly-feral house dogs.”
Welcome to the Legacy of Ash, a dark & gritty fantasy cycle in the tradition of Steven Erikson, George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook.
Calus Rukan is a world twisted by war, sorcery, and hell itself.
Broken coasts and shattered continents mark a land divided. The old empire of Aul Rukara was cast into darkness and devastation, though its legacy remains. The people of Calus Rukan – scholars and adepts, warriors and thieves, beggars and princes – strive to build new civilizations upon the ruins of the old.
But three thousand years after the sundering of the world, although light has returned to the darkness, ash still veils the sky.
Soldier, Kraken, Bard is the first book in the Legacy of Ash world
In a city suspended over the shores of a great ocean, a storm has come.
Soften has seen storms before, but those were nothing when compared to the winds which now rage along its high stone walls. The city’s harbours have weathered many rising tides, and the people of Soften are accustomed to pulling tight the shutters, stacking their fires high, and enduring the driving rain. But this storm is different, and for all their preparations, something primal dwells at the centre of this tempest, madness with no regard for people within its dark fury, a terror which quickly begins clawing at Soften’s soul.
For a city guard named Versas, Soften is home. For Ormenir Stills, a travelling bard who has seen much of the world, the city marks the end of his career. And for a girl named Ember, despite all the madness the storm has brought, this city is only the beginning.
Last but not least Ashley Melanson her short story was featured in Gems of Strength and is called Fox. She’s hoping to be accepted into the Hath No Fury anthology, an anthology in which women take the lead.
The weaker sex? There’s no such thing! Enter Anna, who fights against evil for what she knows is right. Enter Chessie, who must battle prejudice and overcome the torment she holds inside. Read Delia’s story, a struggle against domestic violence. Follow the tale of Apple as she struggles with her demons. And be inside the story with nameless women who must deal with the loss of a child, the inner struggle of uncertain sexuality, the escape from domestic violence, the healing of assault, and the finding of love.
These characters embody the strength of women, strip away the illusion of weakness, and bring hope of things to come. The authors of The Sisterhood bring you these poignant short stories and demonstrate there is nothing weak about women!
Here’s the link to Hath No Fury anthology
That’s it for today’s blog I hope you enjoyed reading it. It is sunday so I’m heading back to NFL land and as always here’s the unicorn for Rob and a little motivation for all storytellers featuring the great James A. Moore author of Seven Forges