The Second Lost Chapter is Now Available

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A Probationary Effect – Time’s Tempest Lost Chapter 2 is now available for free download!

[The Gauntlet: Lost Chapter 1]

A Probationary Effect - ebook cover - 850

Taya is finally released from her probationary status as a Contractor and can’t wait to dig into a more challenging assignment. However, the covert nature of this particular work has her second-guessing her new boss’s ethics and the validity of the contract. Will Taya be complicit in a crime and risk losing everything she’s trained for?

Working in the ‘Big Leagues’

Many of us have experienced odds-and-ends jobs when we were going through school: maybe you had your own lawn mowing service, driveway shoveling, paper route, fast food position, etc. and that was great. It put a little extra money in our pocket and gave us a bit of freedom from having to rely on our parents for, well, everything.

But what about the first day of the job you always wanted? Are you a tattoo artist? A teacher? A pilot? An insurance agent? How about a mechanic? or Graphic Designer? Hair stylist? Registered massage therapist?

How did you feel knowing you were apart of something bigger – a career instead of a job?

How did you feel when you made your first mistake? Were you humbled? Scared s**tless? Could you laugh it off or did you learn something about yourself and what you do that would stay with you always?

These are the moments that make up the larger journey of who we are. The choices we’ve made and the paths we’ve walked all add up to you and me today. Ultimately, that is what the Lost Chapters are… skipping stones that lead to one particular moment in life.

Come, spend some time with Taya, Zaith, and Dezmind as their decisions entangle them in a future known as Time’s Tempest.

Starting from Scratch: Plotting the Journey

writingWithin the last 24 hours I have decided to move forward with the goal of publishing 3-4 books in the next 12-14 months. If I’m going to show the skeptics and myself that writing for a living is truly possible then this is an important first step.

So, how do I begin?

Well, I’m lucky enough to have a contract with a small publisher for my short sci-fi series The Chronicles of Xannia… book one will be launched Oct 1st, 2014 so that’s my official first book – the starting line in this race to prove my mettle. I all ready have half of the second book in a laughable first-draft state (but that’s better than nothing) and it’s fully plotted (pantsing is not my forte). This afternoon I finished the skeletal plotting for a new urban/fantasy duology of which I will be writing the first draft of book one for this November’s NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month).

That’s three books right there that could potentially be published by next spring, which just leaves me with that fourth one… will it be the 3rd book in The Chronicles of Xannia? or will it be the second and final book of the fantasy duology? Needless to say, like most writers I have a back list of potential books to write, all listed with some degree of plotting in two very well protected journals, so it’s not like I’ll be lacking any ideas for moving forward.

crumpled_paperBut that’s the hardest part, right? Moving forward. I’ve given myself a logically tangible goal for writing but only time will tell if I can actually make a good income doing this. Yet, there’s that dark spot in the back of my conscious that whispers when I least expect it, “What if you’re not good enough?”

Many of us face that doubt in our lives… for me it means the gain or loss of a new career – something I’ve dreamed about doing nearly my whole life. I can’t help but wonder what the consequences of failure might do to me? My tenacity? My spirit? My self-esteem?

I failed as a teacher – 10 years and no full-time position (they say it’s because of the market and timing and all that but other people were being hired for the jobs I was applying to, why not me?).

I failed as a journalist – I couldn’t even complete my diploma for college (I hated current events so much).

I failed in my goal to sing for Disney – with no support for such a ‘far fetched’ idea friends and family just smiles and shook their heads.

I failed as a theatre tech – I love the work but under pressure I tend to mess things up at the worst possible moments.

I have not gotten over any one of those failures and each one impacts me to a greater or lesser degree, but writing? That’s my soul we’re talking about now… if I fail at writing no one can claim it’s not because I didn’t try, and it scares me to contemplate which aspects of my life are most likely to hold me back, drag me down…

I’m plotting and scheming, scratching and clawing but in the end will there even be a ‘top’ to this mountain I’m so desperately trying to climb?

Will hope fail me too? It has before… still, I’ve all ready opened the door. It’s time to walk through.

The First Lost Chapter is Now Available for Free

It’s official everyone,

The Gauntlet – Time’s Tempest Lost Chapter 1 is now available for free download!

Final VersionThe Gauntlet is the first of four prequel “lost chapters” to the science fiction adventure Time’s Tempest, book one in the Chronicles of Xannia series.

These lost chapters are significant moments that are touched on briefly in the main story to allow for a sense of the characters’ history and prior experience. Acting as mini-episodes, the scenes in the lost chapters provide a glimpse into the foundation of the people and problems facing the planet of Xannia.

Knowing the content of these lost chapters is not essential to understanding and enjoying the novel Time’s Tempest; they are meant to enrich your experience and provide a deeper foundation for, and thus a greater appreciation of, the trials faced in the main story.

Taya was the youngest person ever to enter the Contractor Training Facility nearly 2 years ago. As she struggles to prove her abilities and capabilities both mentally and physically in this prestigious government-run school, she needs to find a way to balance her goals with her instructors’ expectations and deal with other students who are years older than she is. Learn about what happens behind the closed doors of the CTF and whether Taya will master her compulsions or be mastered by her insecurities.

One free Lost Chapter will be released each month leading up to the launch of The Chronicles of Xannia: Time’s Tempest on October 1st, 2014. I look forward to sharing with you my journey into new territory.

The Journey of an E-Book Cover Design

Sometimes the best way to understand the evolution and creation of something is to see it for yourself. I have been stressing over a simple series of e-book covers for my Lost Chapter teasers. These are theoretical “chapters” in the life of the main characters of my book The Chronicles of Xannian: Time’s Tempest – chapters of their lives prior to where the book finds them. They read like short stories with brief glimpses of core or important elements that will be focused on in the main novel.

My goal is to put these Lost Chapters out for free as e-books. However, because they are not apart of my official contract with my publisher they fall into the category of “must be approved” before I can release them.

SkyscraperSo I sent the publisher my DIY version of the cover:

The publisher balked, to say the least. My version did not…

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Dealing with Personal Faults

It is not easy for most people to admit they are wrong. I am a strange one when it comes to this concept. If I know nothing or almost nothing about what is being debated, I will hear someone out and then make a logical decision based on fact and proof. If what is being debated is something I am familiar with or know well, I will push to make my point heard and argue until I’ve convinced the other person that my point of view is the right one.

In that way, I’m a bit of a control freak.

at faultI have imbued my main character, Taya, with this trait in an attempt to view how I must be perceived by others – those who know me and expect this and those who don’t. She comes across as being kind of bitchy. At the same time, she convinces herself of the necessity of this trait in a world that tends to see her as “less than” the woman she is. She has had to fight tooth and nail to prove to the world that she matters and yet, the world is unable to see past her youthful exterior.

This was echoed in my own life when I moved in with my father at the age of 16. I didn’t know it at the time, but nothing I could have done would have pleased him, unless it was to treat his word as gospel and give up my independence. From the age of 6 I wanted to be a teacher (and the age of 9 an author). It stood to reason that I could write in the summer months and work during the school year. Just as I was filling out college application forms my father says to me, “Don’t expect me to pay for you to go to school to become a teacher. Find another profession.” My mother had no money to be able to help me, and I had saved very little working at a cafe that year. No self-respecting college was going to help me with a loan because my father made too much money (he was still a middle-income earner but in the upper bracket).

The only other thing I was interested in was writing. So I decided to try Broadcasting Journalism. Let’s just say that I found out fast that I could pass most of my classes with a mark in the low 80s with minimal effort, but I hated current events. I felt like a fraud surrounded by other students (my friends) who were desperate to have a career in Journalism and I was just going through the motions. This was not the right career for me.

My father’s response when I told him I wasn’t going to finish my diploma but go to university for teaching instead?

“You never finish anything you start.”

Then it dawned on me. He never attended any of my track meets in high school, he never supported my interest in archery (and I got a silver medal at a local competition), the only time he ever attended a theatrical production I was in was when I played a bit part in a musical in my final year (and he wondered why he even bothered coming)… are you seeing the pattern? I was. He knew nothing about me and yet he somehow got it in his head that I never finished anything I started.

When he looked at me, he saw my mother (not because I look like her, I actually have more of his features). I believe it had something to do with my mannerisms and my optimism because that’s where our similarities end. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother fiercely but the only role-model she played in my life was the “I’m never going to be like her” one. She never finished high school, she dated questionable men, she was a roamer, she wasn’t good with money… I learned how to live my life by being observant of her faults. One thing I could never fault her for though, was believing in me.

And that’s what my character, Taya, needed – someone to believe in her. For her it was an older-sister type character she met while working a job, but that kind of undeniable support does incredible thing for the spirit. No matter Taya’s need to be in control, her bitchy attitude, or the walls she’d built around her heart – someone finally understood her.

Don’t we all need that? Just one person to look past our faults and simply believe?

This I know and know well, and it is this driving force that I endowed Taya with to find out how both she, and I, might survive when that support disappears leaving us stranded.

Have you been there – when you’ve felt absolutely alone and yet you were supposedly surrounded by people who loved you?

Trying Something New

sew_closed_my_soul
Sew Closed my Soul by DestinyBlue – deviantART

Many of my personal journeys to self-understanding have come from trying something new. One of the biggest mistakes in my life was leaving my mother for my father at age 16.

I know that sounds strange. My parents have been separated (not divorced, no) since I was 2 years old. I have experienced a lot of strange ups and downs since that time, that were mostly due to other people’s choices. The summer I turned 16 my father decided to move in with his girl friend. He knew my high school was considering changing its boundaries and my special arts busing for being in the Regional Arts Drama Program was up on the chopping block. So he proposed that he would find a house, with his girl and her younger son (just turned 17), and that I could live with them and still be able to attend my high school.

Now, the idea for most teens to change high school half-way through is bad enough, but it was worse for me.

My mother was a roamer – her average stay in any one place was 2 years at that point (3 years was the longest she’d managed previously). Between the ages of 2 and 10 I had moved 7 times. During that time my one saving grace was the fact that my mother always brought me to my Grandmother’s house to attend school. My first 7 years of schooling took place at the same elementary school, which I loved. Then, after one of our moves when I was 11 years old, her boy friend at the time told her it was ‘ridiculous’ to keep sending me to school at my Grandmother’s house when there was a perfectly good school right across the street (or there abouts) from our house.

My world was shattered (a horrifying 3 year experiment that nearly drove me insane).

I did not want to relive that horrible experience during high school. After having half my soul ripped from my body as an adolescent (everything feels that much worse when you’re a kid), I didn’t want to experience it again. So I agreed to move in with my father (to try it out for one year), keep my high school and live like a traditional family.

Needless to say, not only did I break my mother’s heart, but I lost the other half of my soul when she moved 3 hours away before I could change my mind back.

Life with my father was not like my times visiting him on the weekends as a child. I learned very quickly that he didn’t trust me (like my mother did) and ruled the roost with a firm, “My way or the high way” state of mind. High school was still awesome but now my happiness at home suffered.

You might find it interesting that I haven’t spoken with him in the past 5 years (I’m now well into my 30s) – his choice, not mine… well that’s not entirely true. He misinterpreted a situation (more than one but he lumps them altogether) and refuses to apologize. As I have spent my entire life understanding the middle-ground of problems (I was a great mediator in elementary and high school) I would always be the one to make a compromise.

I refuse to be the one to apologize for something he thinks I’ve done, that I haven’t – and he’s too proud and stubborn to admit he’s wrong. That being said, he’s never met his grandson because of this.

I firmly believe that had I learned more about what was happening with the re-zoning at my school before making my decision to live with my father, we might at least still be talking right now.

It’s interesting how a simple decision can have such rippling effects in my life for years after, and has left me reluctant to try anything new.

The Journey of Life is a Process

Deviantart: Crossroads of Dime by sugarmints
Deviantart: Crossroads of Dime by sugarmints

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Write what you know.” It’s interesting to see how much of who I am and my own life experiences comes out in my writing.

I mean – I write science fiction and fantasy!

I’ve never been to another planet, experienced another dimension, played with (real) magic, or even excelled at science after grade 8. But one thing I’ve been my entire life is a student and a jack-of-all-trades.

The problem with being a student, dedicated to life-long learning, is that I don’t obsess about any one thing. Sure, I know a lot about writing and teaching but that’s because I’ve been doing it since I learned how to read and write (I’m not joking here – little kids like to play “house” but I liked to play “school”).

I love music, but I’m not an audiophile.

I love gaming, but I’m into Mario Cart not Super XV Racing (or whatever).

I love archery, but haven’t held a bow in my hands since high school.

I love astronomy, but never take the time to watch the stars any more.

I love the theatre, but I always knew I’d never make a living acting or as a backstage technician.

I love to dance, but since I pulled a groin muscle doing the splits when I was 32 (acrobatics and jazz) I feel like a fraud now.

I love food, but I’m a terrible cook.

I enjoy sketching, but I’m a novice at best.

I enjoy hiking, but I haven’t gone exploring since I was in college.

I enjoy woodworking, but I haven’t touch a tool bigger than a drill since University.

It goes on. My likes are diverse and I have just enough knowledge of each to get me into trouble.

They say that everyone is an expert on something, but that just makes me laugh.  I’m no expert. I’ve tried a lot of things but my journey toward self-fulfillment and self-actualization keeps getting squashed by reality.

Maybe that’s why my main characters are always searching for an understanding of who they are and what their place is in this life – I do know that journey well. My grandmother would say that I simply haven’t lived long enough to be able to find the answers I’m looking for. But then, that just begs the question, “When will my time come?”

Has yours?

 

Symbolism & The Editing Process

I know I haven’t posted much lately but this rant will explain everything 🙂

Writerly Rant #35

by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.

hydraWhat do Jesus, Hercules and Authors have in common? Trials to reach ascendance.

Now I’m not aiming to be blasphemous here to either Christian or Homerian followers, what I want to get across is the weight of the monumental tasks that we each face in our personal struggles.

Similar to what Jesus experiences, we writers need to disavow our work at least three times before we can reach a place of appreciation for the opus we’ve created. During each phase of denial to the work, we face horrendous challenges and must cut the heads from the hydra in order for our work to transcend.

As an editor it’s easy for me to post, “You must do this, in that draft, to attempt to reach this effect.” As an author the practice is not nearly as fun as the preaching…

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