short stories · writing

Short Story – Under the Amethyst Sky

I stood in my watch tower, under the amethyst sky, waiting for them to appear.

A chill spread under my skin. The closer they came, the quicker the ice ran through my veins. Soon, the clouds would bend to my heart. Take the shape only I was meant to give them. But only for a moment, before turning to powder and dusting the earth in a delicate, cold flurry.

I looked over the railing at the crowd that had gathered on the beach below. They were a sea of skin and little else. They didn’t feel the cold as I did. Where I was covered from head to toe, the others were scantly clothed, leaving as much of their skin as the Heavens allowed exposed to receive the most from the blessing.

Being a Sculptor, I no longer needed the monthly blessing. Good thing. I would have frozen to death if I had. But I’d have gladly given up my eternal blessing to be on the ground. To be with my friends. To dance and laugh and play with them. All of them, but especially, Theo.

The clouds rippled like a rock had been thrown into the sky on a distant horizon. This marked the end of the previous continent’s Sculpting.

A shiver raised goosebumps all over my body.

They’d be here soon.

“Kaia.”

I practically threw myself over the railing. “Theo.”

Though I knew him by the thick wave of garnet hair he kept short and neatly combed out of his eyes, he looked different. His boyish figure cut away to reveal the man he had become.

He called up to me. I couldn’t hear but every other word over the chattering crowd, but I could see the worry furrowing his brow.

Nearly a year had passed since we last spoke, before I had to leave family and friends behind to live at the abbey with the other Sculptors.

Too long.

Whether he could hear me or not, I called back, “I’ve missed you.”

Before the tears dropped from my cheeks, Theo was halfway up the twenty foot tower.

“Theo, no,” I cried as he hurdled the railing.

He stood before me. Taller than I remembered. And I’d never seen his charcoal eyes so full of sadness. I knew I shouldn’t, but I ached to reach out for him. To comfort him.

The Sculptors were only to think of the Heavens, but when he moved toward me, I damned the Heavens and threw my arms around him.

He lifted me. My hood fell back and sandalwood and sage embraced me when the wind caught at his back as our lips met.

He was summer to my winter. His lips hot and supple, mine like ice. But only for a moment before his mouth, moving in a familiar rhythm I thought I’d never feel again, thawed them.

He lowered me onto the deck. I wanted to beg him not to, but I knew he had to.

I stood on my toes as he held my gaze, his fingers still playing in my amethyst hair as our lips parted.

“You can’t be here,” I breathed. “The Heavens—”

“Have already punished me,” he said.

My body stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“I had to warn you.” The worry was in his voice now. His lips quivered as he spoke. “And tell you, how sorry I am.”

He dropped to his knees and held me around the waist, pressing his cheek against my stomach.

Steam rose as I placed my ice cold hand against the hard line of his jaw. “What would you ever have to be sorry for?” I couldn’t imagine. His love for me had always been gentle. Kind beyond measure.

He looked up at me. Shame written in the wrinkle in his brow. “I was curious,” he said. “I’d only ever watched from above and I wanted to see the blessing as you saw it.” He stood and gestured to the crowd. “Feel it as you felt it.”

“From above?” There wasn’t time to process what he’d revealed to me. No time for him to answer my questions.

He could only explain, “The Heavens granted my request, but only to observe.” His tentative smile threatened to undo me. “Then I met you.”

My breath caught with the knowing that overcame me.

I was too young to be a Sculptor. We had a whole life ahead of us, Theo and I. Then my predecessor died too soon. More than fifty years. The other Sculptors claimed he had forsaken the Heavens and they had punished him for it. Why else would the Heavens have taken him before I’d had the life every Last Born was promised?

Because my predecessor wasn’t the one being punished.

We were.

I tried to form words. To make sense of the being before me.

The steam rose again as I lay my hand on the firm muscle over his heart. He was Heaven-sent, but a man’s heart still beat in his chest.

Tears pricked the backs of my eyes. Anger. Sadness. Betrayal. Not by Theo, but by the Heavens I’d been forced to devote my life. The life I should have had with Theo.

Fire burned in my belly, threatening to melt the ice in my veins. The ice I needed to perform the Sculpting.

Panic widened Theo’s eyes as my touch warmed against his skin. “You can’t let them see your heart like this,” he said. “They must see your absolute devotion to them, or they will kill you.”

He knew, as well as I did, I could never forget him.

There would always be a place in my heart for Theo.

Ice fought with the fire and I knew… They were here.

I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t stop loving him.

No.

I wouldn’t stop loving him.

He was here to warn me. But why bother, if there wasn’t a way to save me?

I locked my eyes on his.

Standing tall, ready for anything, I said, “Quickly, then.”

He lifted his hand between us. Gently, his fingertips touched my chest and a light bloomed over my heart.

He leaned in, brushed his lips against mine and whispered, “I’ll always love you, Kaia. Good bye.”

#

My eyes fixed on the sky as the clouds rolled, forming colossal, icy sea creatures. Dolphins, sea lions, otters, and orcas. A scene from a picture book my mother read to me when I was a child. They swam toward me. Then, when their shapes were complete, they stopped.

My heart beat once, and they shattered.

Flakes of ice floated down. Speckled, then melted into the skin of the people below. The blessing complete.

The people embraced one another. Cheered the Heavens together, while I stood alone. Another year on my watch tower, wondering why my eyes were drawn again to the garnet haired man, under the amethyst sky.

Monthly Updates · writing

Writing: Monthly update for April

It’s the first of the month, or close enough lol Time for another writing update!

Querying:

Things happened. Not going to go into detail today, but I am no longer going to be publishing with Fyre and Brimstone. So, I’m taking From Stars, Come Dragons back on the road! I submitted it to 2 agents and 2 publishers. Have already been rejected by one agent. Onward!

Current WIPs:

From Stars, Come Dragons – Submitting again.

 

TDB – I really need to get a proper working title for this thing. If you don’t remember, this is my epic fantasy novel. I made some great progress on this in April. I wrote several thousand words and am currently over 21K. I’m not worrying about getting this done too quickly. I’m a pretty impatient person and the fact I’m not anxious about getting this done is a weird and good thing. So, I’m embracing it.

Short Stories:

April was the beginning of my short story journey! Why? Because I want to put something out there. I feel awful that I’d hyped the publication of my novel and have had to go back on that. This is my way of making up for it, and to hopefully get some feedback to improve my writing. Seriously, when I post my first short, Under the Amethyst Sky on May 15th, please please please give me your honest opinions. It’s the only way for me to improve and I so badly want to.

These shorts are not going to be professionally edited. I can’t afford that, but they will have gone through several revisions and at least two critiques. One with my husband and another with my critique partner, Lindsay. This should give you a polished product that will be fun to read!

So, for the shorts I’m actually working on…

Under the Amethyst Sky – Will probably do another revision before releasing on May 15th. If you didn’t see already, here’s the cover!Under the Amethyst Sky

I doctored, slightly, a free image I found on Canva.com and used the Canva tools to add the text. Great site! Highly recommend!

Short Story 2 (for release on June 15th) – No title for this one yet, but I have started writing it! Another fantasy. TBH, most, if not all, of my stories will be fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. lol This one has witches!

Reading:

Read two books in April, which means I’m still on track with my 2018 reading goal! Though, technically, I finished the second book on May 1. I’m cheating a little including it here. xD

This month I only included my Goodreads review for one of the books I read. I didn’t include the other, because it contains a lot of spoilers. I did link to my Goodreads page and you can find my review there if you wish to read a spoiler review.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads rating: 4 starsACourtofMistandFury

Goodreads profile (If anyone knows how to link directly to a review, could you please tell me? I couldn’t figure it out. Thanks!)

 

 

Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim) by Juliet Marillier

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

DreamersPoolI can’t express how much I loved this book. Sure I figured out the mystery early on, but this book is absolutely about the journey. The characters pulled me in. Grim is one of my favorite characters ever! And I love the bad guy in this. Not the typical baddie. I love this and loved Cybele’s Secret. I’m getting more of her books!!

 

 

 

BLOGS:

I’m still behind on this. May should be better since I’m starting to find a groove with my writing schedule, the changes and added responsibility at my day job, and everyday family activities. Our lives are nuts! Maybe, one day, I’ll let you in on how crazy and abnormal our schedule is, but don’t have the time today. lol

 

Well… I think that does it. Some ups and downs. One down I would have liked to avoid, but all in all an OK month. At least writing got done, and a lot more than I had expected!

How was your April?

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

Announcements · writing

Short Story Title and Cover Reveal!

As you might already know, I’m going to release my first short story on May 15th, here on my blog!

It was really scary to put myself on the spot like this, giving myself a deadline to meet, but I think it’s been good for me. Sometime pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is exactly what you need.

And here I go. Jumping into the deep end.

The title and cover for the May 15th, 2018 short story is…

Under the Amethyst Sky.png

(Photo from and cover art made on Canva.com)

I’m still working on a little “blurb.” The story is just over 800 words, so a blurb seems a little silly. Maybe if I can keep it to one or two sentences.

Anywho, let me know what you think of the title and the cover. Feedback is the only way I can improve. All is appreciated!

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

 

writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly update

I got quite a bit done last week!

  1. I wrote and revised my short story to be released May 15th and am waiting on feedback from my critique partner, Lindsay.
  2. That’s right! I have a critique partner! Lindsay and I met via Twitter the beginning of this year. She’s been super supportive and she writes fantasy, too and I’m really excited to work with her. 😀
    1. Find Lindsay on Twitter and her website!
  3. I have a name for my first short story. I’ll announce it with the cover reveal on Wednesday this week! I can’t wait to show you guys!!
  4. Finally, I wrote ~3K words on TDB, my current novel WIP. I’m now over 21K for total word count!

On a scale of Not to Awesome, last week was

Hmm… That scale is a bit ambiguous. lol Oh, well.

Oh! And we went to the zoo! The baby giraffes played so hard. They were running all over. And, wow, are they light on their feet for such large, gangly animals.

Hope you all had a great week! And if not, I wish a better week to come ♥

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

If you didn’t see my last post [here,] I’ll give you a quick recap.

Starting in May, I plan to post a short story on the fifteenth of every month! I’m excited and a little nervous about this, but I think it will be good for me. A great way to keep me moving and hopefully improve my writing skills.

As soon as I can, I’ll reveal the title of the upcoming story. I also want to give each story a cover. So, not long after I reveal the title, I’ll reveal the cover.

Set your calendars! May 15, 2018 I’ll release the first short story on my blog!

Since I’ve been focusing on my short all week, I haven’t gotten any more writing done on my other WIPs. But that’s OK. I wrote a little over 1K words on my short story and started editing it!

This week, my goal is to finish editing my short, title it, and create the cover art. Once that’s done, I’ll jump back into writing on my epic fantasy, TDB, and brainstorm another short story idea.

WOO! So much to do!

How was your week? What are your goals?

Thanks for reading!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

Announcements · writing

Announcement: This is scary

So, I try to steer away from putting unneeded stress, by way of promises and deadlines, on myself. But… what the heck.

Here’s what I’m planning…

Short stories! And I’m going to publish them right here. Well, not right here. In this post. But here on my blog. Oh, you get the point. LOL

Now, I need to get my butt in gear, because I’d like to release one short story on the fifteenth of every month. Starting in May.

Though it’s not something I usually do, I’m giving myself a deadline to keep me moving. Of course, I will allow for extenuating circumstances. Health and family come first. Always.

So, mark your calendars! May 15, 2018

As soon as I have a title, I’ll let you know.

I’m pretty excited. I hope you are, too!excited.gif

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

Had a pretty good week. Or weekend, actually LOL

I’m having difficulties carving out time to write on weekdays, due to work stress and being busy with other things, but Saturday and Sunday were great! I wrote over 3K words between them.

Again, all my words were for my new WIP. Still no title. Just, TDB. But I have been brainstorming different titles. Nothing’s grabbed me yet and made me think, YES! THAT ONE! I’ll keep on it though.

I finished what could be considered act 1 and am solidly into act 2. We know what the antagonist and protagonist want and the protag has started her journey to defeat the antag. And yes, there will be training and all that good stuff.

Actually, this story is going to have a lot of familiar tropes, but that’s what I love to read and that’s what I felt like writing this time. From Stars, Come Dragons was what I wanted to read and write at the time, too, but it does not have many familiar tropes. At least, I don’t think it does. lol It’s certainly not the dragon tale you’re used to.

Anyway, I’d love to answer any questions, if you have them. I’m always up for a chat. 🙂

Take care!

General · writing

Writing, Goals, & Question: Weekly Update – Is my WIP Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, or both?

OMG! Such a great writing week! I wrote around 7K words and expect to write at least that much this week 🙂

I wrote on my new WIP. Which, so far, only has an abbreviation, TDB. In my last monthly update, I let you know it was an epic high fantasy. I’ve always been a little confused about how epic and high fantasy are different, so I poked around the internet for a bit and found these two definitions pretty well sum up the vast majority of the opinions I found.

Epic Fantasy:

*Generally tales of a young nobody, thrown unexpectedly into a massive “Good vs. Evil” struggle, where he must learn to uncover his own latent heroism to save the day. Often also includes a “grail-finding” quest – regardless of whether the ‘grail’ is an icon, a person, a magical talisman or any other form of symbolic token.

High Fantasy:

*The type of fantasy that most people expect when they regard ‘fantasy’ as a genre. Includes lords and ladies, medieval styles and settings, kingdoms and castles, and dragons and knights. High fantasy, while generally rooted in classical mythology and medieval European legends, focuses its themes on Good versus Evil. Sometimes called “Epic fantasy”. Often plotted to encompass three or more books.

*I found similar definitions in many places, but decided to use this specific definition from this source

TDB fits pretty darn well into the Epic catagory. Actually, I think I check every box in that definition at one point or another.

But now I’m going back and forth on whether or not it’s High fantasy. TDB has a medieval style, though it’s not a classical medieval setting. I have a kingdom, but my royals live in a palace not a castle. Yet, there are fortified cities throughout the land. There are plenty of creatures lurking in the dark and some in the light, but none of them are dragons. And there are armies with ranked soldiers and such, but not specifically knights.

Right after I started seriously writing again, I watched Brandon Sanderson’s BYU writing lectures on YouTube. I think one of his students asked his take on the differences between these sub-genres or maybe he just mentioned in passing, that he considered anything not of Earth, and specifically with “alien” races to be high fantasy. If I take that alone as the definition, then TDB is high fantasy.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the subject. What do you think the difference between these sub-genres are? Do you even care? Does this definition affect whether you pick a book up or not? Tell me all the things 😛

Take care!

🙂

Monthly Updates · Reading · writing

Writing: Monthly update for March

It’s the first of the month, or close enough lol Time for another writing update!

Querying:

While I’m deep in the revising trenches preparing to publish, querying will be on hold.

Current WIPs:

From Stars, Come Dragons (The Seven Stars #1) – No new developments. Still going strong with editing!

Title coming soon (The Seven Stars #2) – March was the worst! I’ve restarted writing this book three times now. I think I’ve found my way with it, but I’m so frustrated by the stop and go progress I’ve decided to set it aside for a bit. After a break, writing other things, I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Which brings me to…

TDB – I’m not totally sold on the title of this, so I’m only going to use the acronym for the working title. I started the rough draft for this at the end of October last year and was in love with it. I put it aside to do my NaNoWriMo project (write a script) with the intention of coming back to it in December. Then everything happened with Fyre and Brimstone and this got left behind.

Well, it’s forgotten no more! While I break from book 2 of TSS, I’m going to finish this rough draft. It’s an epic high fantasy inspired by Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series, pirates, and Hungarian folklore. I already have about 9K words written and expect this to be a long one. I’m hoping to make good enough progress on it to include a nice size update about it every week. I’d love to tell you more, but my process won’t allow it. Oversharing kills my momentum. And since I’m already struggling with getting words down, I don’t want to risk making it worse.

 

Reading:

Read two books in March, which means I’m still on track with my 2018 reading goal!

Below, I included my reviews of the two books I read in March. TBH, I wouldn’t say I review books as much as I give my initial thoughts after closing it. Anywho, here they are!

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Goodreads rating: 2 stars

9579634Just finished Prince of Thorns and *le sigh* I ended up being disappointed. It was amazing to start. I got an A Clockwork Orange vibe from the brothers. Jorg slotting O so lovely into Alex’s blood spattered boots. I was ready to go on the ride of ultraviolence with this band of deplorable brothers. But as the book went on, this fell away. I got confused and the plot seemed to meander or was unclear. By the time I got to the last 80 pages, after the “climax,” if you can call it that… I was ready to put it down and not pick it back up again. Then the ending, well… I was underwhelmed. #notmyAlex

 

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Goodreads rating: 3 stars

This is my original review:

51kXoQwdLlL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_That was a really fun read. The characters were a bit too surface and cliche, but overall I like them. I was disappointed we didn’t get to spend more time with Dandy, but hopefully he’s going to be a bigger part of later books. If not, that will be even more disappointing. The plot became extremely predictable as the book went on and I actually skimmed some of the book because I knew what was going to happen. Boy… Seems I have a lot of negative things to say, but honestly, I liked it. I’m going to read the next one. To the library! 😛

 

Beta Reading:

Wasn’t able to beta read in March. I have volunteered to beta for someone as soon as they’re ready. She contacted me last week and says she won’t be ready for another couple of weeks.

BLOGS:

I feel like I really fell down on this in March. It was a rough month with all the changes at work. I didn’t get a whole lot read, written, or discovered. I’ll try to do better in April. 🙂

 

Well… I think that does it. Some ups and downs, but all in all an OK month! At least writing got done, even if it wasn’t a lot of it.
How was your March?

General · writing

In lieu of a weekly update…

I got some writing done last week, but there’s nothing more than that to report. And since I didn’t want to go without posting, because I like to share with you all and get your feedback and stuff, I thought I’d do something a little different.

Here’s an aesthetic I made for my main character, Henry Roy. He’s a bit of neat freak, but mostly because his mom is a borderline hoarder and he can’t stand it. Which is probably why he prefers to spend so much time outdoors doing things like fly fishing, bird watching, and snowmobiling.

HenryAesthetic

*These are not my photos. They were all found through Pinterest.

I can’t wait until the release of From Stars, Come Dragons. For Henry to share his story with you all. 🙂

Hopefully I have more to share next week.

Take care, everybody!