Blurbs and Stuff: Arcana

Yeah, so this is a marketing moment! Given that next week will be somewhat hectic (2 editing projects), I’m kinda dumping blurbs on ya’ll for you to get to know my books in brief, in the event posts prove scarce while editing (tend not to go online when a project is on the go). First up: Lore of Arcana. (All books are linked in the sidebar)

WHY???

Tuesday. Stormy weather. Ireland will be the first country to go back into full lockdown as of midnight tomorrow. It’s a day to feel somewhat bludgeoned, I tell you. Maybe a day to get under the covers and read into sleep mode, there being little to look forward to right now. Then, while making coffee, I started thinking, and one thought led to another, until I landed up with the why bother to market my books, such a chore, one leading nowhere (yeah, a ‘down’ day because usually I don’t mind), and that led to the WHY of the Lore series. Why did I write it? Why does it remain important? Why? Just WHY.

Writing is something I’ve always done. Notes, poems, small stories as a child and teenager, children’s stories as a new mother, and then the day arrived that writing became all-consuming. I have told you how I’d sit in the classroom after a home-school session and use the quiet time to write, but what I haven’t told you is what launched the process, the light bulb moment that transformed scribbles into a first full novel.

I started reading long before I went to school and by 8 years old had convinced my dad to let me use his library cards for the adult section of the library (awesome dad said yes!). Stories have been my go-to all my life and I have this OTT imagination as a result. Imagine thus, a woman sitting at her desk with a pile of library books to one side, waiting for her, while she preps lessons for the next day. Done with that, she reaches for that pile and selects the book that is a dictionary of terms for Alchemy, and pages through it … until she comes to an obscure list that is the 14 steps to enlightenment. Her heart thuds and she shivers, for there it is, an entire story unfolding before her as she stares at that list.

Guess what? Within 5 minutes of reading that list, I had hauled pen and paper closer and started jotting notes. Withing a week notes grew into a pile of paper, the beginning of the first manuscript. This does not answer the WHY, but it does answer the ‘what is your light bulb moment?’ The ‘why’ lies in the concept ENLIGHTENMENT. There is more to my WHY than a list in a book (will tell you about that another time) and yet it served as the catalyst. The thing swirling in my spirit found the reason and the means to begin. And thus I did.

Let me tell you, this small explanation has helped to focus my attention and ease the chatterbox in my head. I may still clamber under the covers with a book, though!

Thanks for listening 🙂

A dog barks

These are the last excerpts about animals in Lore of Arcana, this time from The Dragon Circle. Don’t know if I have the gumption to find similar excerpts in Reaume and Sanctum … reading these, knowing the situations surrounding each, well, it can stir up emotions.

  1. Two, three months ago, Galilan’s population housed in this manner would have spread over the countryside for many sals. Now he noticed empty lots where children amused themselves.

He smiled upon hearing a dog bark – kids rescued their pets first. There were bound to be a number of cats and hamsters, canaries … and you are now rambling.

2. Together they made their way through massive snowdrifts up to the longhouse. It was the logical place to find survivors. Closer, they heard at last the sounds of civilisation; children crying, the murmur of voices and, incongruously, a cow mooing, and a dog barked and it was the most beautiful sound.

They reached the door. Snow packed up against it, trapping within the survivors. Vannis waved a hand and cleared the powdery obstacle aside while Torrullin concentrated on the weight above; it appeared particularly unsafe.

When Vannis grabbed the rough wooden handles, he prayed as he never prayed before. He loved Raken and he could not imagine the empty years ahead if she was not inside this building. If anything happened to her, Torrullin needed to stand in line. No quarter whatsoever. He drew breath, with Torrullin tense beside him, and pulled the door wide.

The smell of stale air and human and animal waste sent him reeling backward, gagging.

Torrullin stepped past him into the gloomy interior as voices rose in relief.

There were several people inside, but the gloom and noise made it impossible to judge who and how many. Torrullin brought forth a globe and sent it into the rafters, the glow illuminating the interior. He noted the rafters held up to the weight of the snow; the building would hold up to another onslaught.

Then none of that mattered as the reality of human suffering confronted him. Silence had fallen, other than for a child’s fearful sobs and the incessant barking of the dog.

3. In the glow, a crowd of faces young and old confronted Torrullin and Vannis, their faces pinched blue and drawn with hunger. There were far more than they expected to find, but far less than the number in Linmoor. They were also too many for the small space. Some took huge breaths of the freshening air.

“Can we take at least some of them to the Palace?” Raken begged, eyes bright with tears as she watched with aching heart how Torrullin made food for the solitary cow and dog.

The dog licked his hand and he stroked it before moving on to a group of chickens in another corner. He waved a hand and a bag of chicken feed materialised for them, some of which he scattered. A raggedy cat slunk out from behind crates and he called it over, lifted it to a high place above the chickens where he gave it food and let it eat there in peace.

The Pathos of the Abandoned

Finding mention of animals (particularly dogs and cats) in my Lore has made me quite tearful in the reading. Considering that much goes wrong in the story, animals showcase the desperation here and there. Below are a few excerpts from The Drowned Throne.

  1. THEY WALKED ALL day, dodging deluges and rotten missiles, skirting dogs and rats and unnamed piles of fur and other matter, turning ever away from mean-spirited people.

Only once did they see a cat, the feline mangy and filthy, but well fed on the rat population. For the most part Silas inhabitants ignored them. Where trouble appeared imminent, they simply walked away.

It rained without cease.

2. “On the contrary, father, I sensed something of you there. A trace of goodness, and that made me sad. I also found a trace of ambition, and that made me angry.”

They continued walking. A skeletal dog yapped at their heels, giving up when it elicited no reaction.

Torrullin said, “It wasn’t your fault. I don’t need to hurt you further.”

“I want to know. How else will I understand?”

“Tell me about you and my mother, please. She spoke of you with love always. She explained why she left. I would like to hear you speak of her.”

Taranis opened his heart and mind to the memories. He put aside pain and guilt, spoke to his son with the same love and awe Torrullin heard in his mother’s voice long ago.

“It was in Moor that I met her, the day I arrived …”

Torrullin smiled. Millanu would always begin with the first day she laid eyes on the handsome man on the inn roof.

3. An hour after they set out they came across the first ruined village, blackened and partly razed, the enclosure in tatters. Chickens scratched hopefully among the ruins and a skeletal dog barked pitifully. It was a small place, a family not long ago embarked on the task of starting a new clan.

Saska burst into tears and Lanto breathed a shocked, “Oh no, terrible …”

Torrullin’s mouth set in a grim line. This was direct evidence of Margus’ malicious plans.

Saska emptied her pack of food for the dog as they skirted the village; looking back, she saw the poor creature approach the bounty warily, before wolfing it down in a flash, its tail wagging. She burst into tears again.

Lanto’s mouth also set into a resolute line and he did not look back. They never heard him mutter ‘crazy’ again.

4. Eventually Torrullin said, “We must look to the living now and do what we can tonight, or more will join Mordan in the realms of death. Come, both of you, come away.”

They found the meeting hall half-above and half-below ground. Nature had commenced the reclamation process; birds burst noisily into flight as they came down the stairs into the chamber, and clumps of weeds grew sturdily in the patchy sunlight of the broken roof.

Phet set about clearing away the birds, chasing them out with respect. In one corner, a thin grey cat nursed two tiny kittens, keeping a wary eye on the intruders. This time Lanto scratched in his pack and offered the little mother food and water. She ate as she lay, unwilling to disturb her little ones, and purred when Lanto stroked her.

“What’s the plan?” Saska asked. Her voice echoed in the empty chamber, briefly startling the cat. Lanto calmed her with gentle hands.

Phet returned to perch unobtrusively in a corner. He ignored the feline and, after a brief bristle, she ignored him.

“We have to get into the lion’s den; it is the only way,” Torrullin said. “Luring his soltakin out will bring only a small number, and darklings will probably not take the bait. If we can get inside and let it be known we have penetrated his stronghold, he will pit his might against us to answer the arrogance of our trespass with his own.”