Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Real Writer: When You're A Plantser And Things Go Wrong

The Plantser Delimma


As many of you know, I'm working hard on the third book in the Aeon Project series. As a bit of background, Aeon Project is in conjunction with Takamo Universe (a MMORPG that will offer players stories for more immersion in the gameplay universe). In any case, these are complicated stories that are not only romance-driven, but also highly politically charged. There is an entire canon of information already written for the universe and that means... staying within the rules of an established history. 

I'm a pantser. This means I don't normally outline or plan my stories much more than knowing what's going to happen in the next chapter. Most of the time, this method serves me well and I don't have too much trouble keeping up with the story. For Aeon Project, however, I decided that there was just too much to keep up with in my already-busy brain. How was I going to keep up with everything and maintain my spontaneous and often dramatic twists and turns in each story? I decided that I would need to build a comprehensive timeline of the series, incorporate important details in the history and make sure my dates, times and ages all lined up, and work from there.

And.... I screwed up. I discovered that some (albeit small) details of book 1, An Enduring Sun, didn't line up with what I'd decided to do in the rest of the series. AHHHHH! But, thanks to Takamo Universe having already pulled the series down to revamp with a new publisher, I had the perfect opportunity to make the minor changes needed so everything fits together the way I want. This was a REALLY close call!! Now I know why authors with very large series keep story bibles and series bibles to keep all the details straight. 

This little foray into plotting isn't going to keep me away from my pantser tendencies, as I can already see myself adding to the timeline I put together. That's the fun in writing fiction! These characters are dynamic and full of interesting history themselves so it's not hard to go off on tangents from time to time. I can't wait for everyone to meet Ren, Vex, Sevyn and Q and all the other wonderful characters of Aeon Project. 

Hopefully, I can learn from this project and become a better author with the ability to both plot and pants whenever the story calls for it!

Real Writer Out!


Find me at 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Exclusive Drabble: Just for You and the Apocalypse

Some Drabble Just for You


Drabble: (n.) a short work of fiction, usually not more than 100 words in length


For You in the Apocalypse

Young Joel Leen had never known the feel of the sun on his face, or the smell of freshly mowed grass after a spring rain. He had never bathed, had never known relief from the relentless hunger that was now a dull ache in his belly that he thought was normal. He knew no other children, he only knew that he was the last live birth in his tiny village. The next eldest person was Henry Call, and he was almost twenty.

In the last days of the planet Earth there were approximately nine hundred thousand humans remaining, spread out in small outposts situated in pockets of clean atmosphere. The sun was a tiny pinprick of light, barely visible through the clouds of ash that swept across the landscape. Water was a precious commodity, and none of it was clean. Recycled bodily fluids and whatever condensation could be captured from the heavy passing clouds sustained the last remnants of humanity.

Children rarely lived past infancy, so the ones who survived were cherished and cursed in equal measure. Caring for yourself in a dead world was hard enough, but caring for a life that could not care for itself was torture.

Joel stood on the rocky cliffs overlooking the vast desert that surrounded his village. He did not look up when his grandfather approached.

“What occupies your mind today, Joel?” Grandfather asked. He leaned on his cane and turned his brown leather skinned face toward the scant rays of the sun. Every day it grew darker and colder, and Grandfather cherished what little light he could find.

“What’s out there?” Joel pointed at the endless brown desert.

“Sand and death.”

Joel squinted at Grandfather and chewed on his lip. People said he looked like Grandfather, with his light blue eyes and fair hair. Grandfather was so old now, it was hard to tell.

“Tell me what troubles you,” Grandfather ordered.

Joel wondered whether or not he should tell Grandfather about the ideas in his head. Should he lie? He decided against it, because Grandfather could usually tell when he was lying. “I don’t want to die,” he said at last.

Grandfather looked into Joel’s eyes for a moment, and then he returned his gaze toward the sky. “Everything dies.”

“I don’t want to die. I’m afraid.”

Grandfather’s gnarled hand found its way to Joel’s shoulder and squeezed gently. “A man has many choices in his life, child. He can be afraid, or he can be strong. He can be gentle and kind, or angry and mean. What becomes of you is up to you.”

“I want to live. I want to save the world, but I’m afraid I don’t have enough time.”

Grandfather’s gaze locked onto Joel. “You can have eternal life, or you can make an eternal impact. You have the choice.”

Joel wondered how much time it might take to bring this barren planet back to life. More time than any of them could spare, he figured.



** A note from AR DeClerck

I wrote this part of Joel's story for our bi-weekly writer's meeting exercise and it stuck with me. What do YOU think happens next? Does young Joel get to see what lies beyond his village? Tell me in the comments!
                                     ~AR


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Podcast Interview: Bec McMaster Steampunk Romance Superstar!




Podcast Interview: Bec McMaster

Steampunk Romance Superstar!



  



PS blog/podcast fans: Bec is one of my favorite steampunk authors! Her London Steam series was one of the first I read that got me hooked on steampunk romance!
If you haven't read her work-- definitely look her up!
~AR

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Two New Releases!

TWO NEW RELEASES!


I am so excited to announce that I have two new stories released just today JUST FOR YOU!! These are fun, but different, types of stories. There's a sweet angel romance and a feisty amateur sleuth and both are waiting for your favorite reading device. 

Wayward is the sequel to Between, and part of the Key Holder series. 4 angel brothers, Gabriel, Uriel, Noah and Michael fought in a battle against an evil angel who expelled all the angels from Heaven so he could control the power of the River of Life. For their sacrifices, each brother was given a gift from God. Uriel's gift was a chance to find his mate, Anah. Anah lost her memories of being an angel when she fell, and Uriel has to find her and help her remember before her chance to return to Heaven is gone forever. I just ADORE Anah and Uriel. They have SMASHING fashion sense, and they have an enormous love for Mischief the cat. I hope you enjoy their story as much as I did!





Murder and Mistletoe is a completely different kind of story, especially written for lovers of mystery and history. Paris, 1936. Seamstress Franny Calico wakes to find her friend has gone missing from a speeding train and she knows that something is afoot. With the help of the handsome conductor Warburton Smith, Franny decides to go to any length to find her friend, even if it means her own life is at risk. 

This story is the first in the Franny Calico mystery series, and the next story is called Death & Decopage. If you love this story, just wait until you see what happens next!




As always, thanks for reading! Readers like you are the reason writers like me keep writing. Please stop by your favorite retailer and tell everyone if you enjoyed these stories (or even if you didn't). Reviews are the lifeblood of today's author!
~AR


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Flash Fiction Time Again!



Podcast Flash Fiction #2

The Cards:
Monster
Treasure
"And so the king spared his life"

I stood at the edge of the known world and peered into the blackness beyond. I could neither see nor hear the presence, but I could feel it. Something old, the weight of it pressed against my skin. The light of my torch did not penetrate the dark but I held it up anyway.

Why are you here?

The voice was inside my head, ringing against the backs of my eardrums. “I came to ask you about the monster.”

There are no monsters here.

“My father, the king, said the monster lives beyond these cliffs.”

Your father, the king, lied to you.

I felt that this presence, that was infinitely old and aware, told the truth. But, why had my father lied to me?

He sent you here so that I would kill you, of course. He fears that you covet his throne.

I have no designs upon his kingdom. I am a dutiful son.”

What is true and what is perceived are often at odds.

“Will you kill me, then?” Perhaps, if my own father wanted me dead, it was better off that I died.

That is not my purpose.

What should I do?” Could I wander into the wastelands beyond the borders of our kingdom and try to live?

You will return to your father’s house and do as you have always done. When the time comes, you will know what to do.

I did not wait for more instruction. I turned and made the journey back to my father's castle. As I approached the gates, I saw that the castle had been razed. Nothing remained but blood and death. My father lay dying on the ground beside the ruins of our home. I gathered him into my arms as he tried to whisper to me.

“...monster” he managed. “Winged. Fangs.”

I buried the people of the castle next to my father. The survivors gathered with me, and looked to me with worry. What would we do? How would we live? I recalled the presence and its advice. “We do as we have always done,” I told them.

For five years we rebuilt my father's kingdom, and in time it became mine. I ruled with the advice of the presence always on my mind. When the time came, would I truly know my purpose?

One morning, a man was captured as he attempted to steal an apple from a cart in the village. He was brought before me, dirty and bedraggled but defiant. As I stared into his eyes, the voice of the presence was as strong as ever.

“Leave him be,” I ordered my guards. “What punishment could there be for a hungry man who tries to eat? Feed him, and he shall work with the gardeners tending the crops. Every day he will take home whatever he can carry.”

The prisoner’s mouth fell open, and tears gathered in his weary eyes. “I thought I would be killed!” he moaned.

“Let it be known, the king spared his life!” I called out as my court-goers laughed. The whisper of the presence passed over me, and the sun was suddenly overtaken by darkness. We all froze and the prisoner stood, his shoulders going back.

“It's you!” I knew the presence lay inside the body of the prisoner. I could see the light in his eyes.

Your purpose is the same as mine. The same as any other. Your purpose is to show kindness and mercy when others will not. In this, can you achieve all the glory your father feared you might.

The light was suddenly restored, and the prisoner fell to his knees before me. I lifted him up, and knew that the place of a king is next to his people.

The end.



Thanks for joining me for the Podcast Flash Fiction! The podcast had taken on a slightly different format, as we now record monthly except for the occasional interview. However, we look forward to bringing you fun games like the flash fiction, and of course updates and news!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Excerpt from Dogs of War

Dogs of War

Shadowlyte Shifters Saga Book I



Darkness haunts London as the members of the Shadowlyte Clan race to discover its source. Children are disappearing and the Alpha has been tasked with finding out why. His only hope for answers may lie with a woman who escaped hell herself.

Katryn O'Malley forgot what kindness was like, until the handsome black wolf offered her asylum with his clan. She knows she owes him whatever help she can provide, because London will never be safe until the men who captured her and the other children are brought to justice. 

Kat and Chase will face the kind of depravity that only the strongest can endure. They may even have a chance at happiness when it's over, but can they survive long enough to see it realized?

An Excerpt

Buckingham Palace was a stately manor, befitting the dignity of the Queen of England. Chase had attended functions at the palace as a peer of the realm and heir to his father’s estate, but he’d never been allowed behind the curtain of aristocracy that separated the royals from everyone else.

He stepped down from the carriage and turned back to help Li Na down as Kamil and Wang Lei disembarked on the other side. The queen’s footman appeared to usher them up the steps and into the palace.

Chase tried his best to hold back a groan at the barrage of Lords milling about in the anteroom outside the queen’s meeting room. He did not overlook the way the room went silent as soon as he and his siblings appeared.

“This way, sir.” The footman waved them past the horde, and through the door into a smaller secondary waiting room.

They let the mongrels in and we have to wait out here?
Shouldn’t they wait in the back with the other servants?

Chase gritted his teeth as the petty comments were cut off with the firm click of the doors closing.

“May I get you anything?” The footman, at least, seemed respectful.

“No, thank you.” Chase nodded to him and then caught Wang Lei’s eye as the man disappeared. “They aren’t happy to see us, are they?” he murmured.

Wang Lei smiled, but it wasn’t a particularly humorous expression. His eyes were hard with anger. “Your father was never popular in his decisions to raise children of other nationalities under his roof as his own.”

“They’re bigoted, hateful fools.” Chase patted his brother’s shoulder. “Fortunately, my father had the favor of the realm, and could do as he pleased.”

“Your father was a cad.”

They all turned, straightening when the queen herself appeared from a door at the end of the room. The men bowed, and Li Na curtsied, as Victoria chuckled.

“But you are correct, he was a particular favorite.” Victoria held out her hand to Chase and nodded as he kissed her knuckles. “I see he taught you well.”

“Your Majesty.” Chase straightened. “You remember my brother Kamil, my brother Wang Lei, and my sister Li Na?”

“Of course.” Victoria nodded regally to each of them, but her smile was warm. Chase noticed the overwhelming feeling of sadness that seemed to envelope her, and he knew that the rumors about her were true. The death of her husband still plagued her. She sat on a small settee and waved for them to sit as well. “It is highly unusual for me to converse with subjects outside the purview of my staff, but the situation calls for delicacy.” She tilted her head and her eyes were narrow. “I’m certain your father explained to you how much loyalty means to me.”

“He did.” Chase folded his hands, his heart hammering hard in his chest. It was not only unusual, but unheard of, for the qQueen to meet her subjects one-on-one. Whatever this matter was, it was more than delicate. “How may the Shadowlyte Clan be of service?”

“Straight to the point,” Victoria murmured with a nod and a small smile. “Very well.” She picked up a small bell on the table and rang it gently. The door at the end of the room opened, and a young couple hurried through. They were obviously distraught, and the woman cried into her handkerchief. The young man held her up with his arm around her shoulders, but his face was pale and pinched with grief.

“This is my youngest godson, Tomas De Esquivel, and his wife Lady Elisa.” Victoria stood and led the young woman to a chair. Tomas stood behind her, his hand on her shoulder as Victoria took her seat again. “Tomas’s mother befriended my daughter many years ago.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Chase took in the grief-stricken faces, hollow eyes, and shaking hands.

“Tomas and Elisa traveled here from Spain a fortnight ago with their son, Alvaro.”

“’Varo is only three years old.” Tomas’ voice shook.
“Last night, Alvaro disappeared from the park.” Victoria dabbed at her eyes with her own handkerchief. “He has not been seen since.”

“The police, Your Majesty?” Li Na’s lips were a tight line as she took in the heartbroken parents of the missing boy.

“The Metropolitan and the City forces have been unsuccessful at locating Alvaro. They found no sign of where he might have gone.”

“He was taken.” Kamil met the qQueen’s gaze with his own steady one.

“I believe so.” Victoria took hold of Elisa’s shaking hand. “By who, or what, I do not know.”

“Have there been threats against the boy in particular?” Chase let his eyes wander over the parents again. Their clothes were fine, if wrinkled. Elisa was a fey woman with sharp features and large, dark eyes. He saw no deception in the devastation of her gaze. Tomas, too, seemed genuine in his distress.

“No.” Victoria shook her head. “Against the crown, as always. But Tomas, Elisa and Alvaro traveled under assumed names and did not divulge their destination to anyone along the way. No one but myself knew the route they traveled or their plans while in the city.”

“Tell me about the abduction,” Wang Lei said quietly. He crossed his arms over his chest but his expression was sympathetic. “Where were you in the park? What were you doing?”
“The Punch and Judy show, at the center of the park.” Tomas wiped a hand over his mouth. “Alvaro loves the puppets.”
Loves not loved, Chase thought. They still believed the boy was alive.
“He was holding my hand, and Tomas went to buy roasted chestnuts.” Elisa’s voice trembled, thick with fear and sorrow. “And he called out to me to look at the dancers. ‘Varo was gone… in a second.”

“You never let go of his hand?” Wang Lei tilted his head, but he wasn’t accusatory, just questioning.

“No.” Elisa’s eyes widened. “I never let go of his hand.”
Chase met Wang Lei’s pointed gaze and nodded.

“What?” Tomas demanded. He came around the chair and went to his knees by Chase. He stared at Chase with wide, begging eyes. 

“What does that mean?”

“It means the police won’t find your son.” Chase touched the man’s shoulder gently and looked at Victoria. “But Shadowlyte may be able to find him.”

“What can you do that the police cannot?” Tomas asked. “Where is my son?”

Chase let his beast come forward, just enough to make the man gasp with the realization that the rumors about the Shadowlyte Clan were true. “There are many reasons to steal a child from his parents, but in this case it seems to have a sinister purpose.”

“M…magical?” Tomas’ face was improbably paler. He swallowed hard and reached out for his wife.

“Nothing can be certain, of course.” Chase tried to instill conviction into his tone. He wanted to reassure the parents without making promises he wasn’t certain he could keep. “What we can do is track your son, and whomever has taken him. If we can, we will bring him back to you.”

“Thank you.” Tomas’s head dropped to Chase’s knee as he sobbed. 
“Thank you.”

Kamil said, “We will need an item that belonged to your son. Something he touched often.”

“H…Here.” Elisa held out a ragged patchwork rabbit with one button eye and chew marks on the ears. “This is his bunny. He dropped it when…” She couldn’t continue as Kamil took the toy from her gently. “We will return it,” he promised.

“You will search for my godson?” Victoria asked. “Any support you need, I will provide. All I ask is that we do not let word of ‘Varo’s disappearance travel through the city. It will only spread panic and worry.”

“We will do whatever we can to help.” Chase stood and kissed her knuckles again. He then pressed his hand into Tomas De Esquivel’s shoulder gently.

“Your father would be proud,” Victoria called to him as the footman appeared to lead them away.

He bowed, and followed his brothers and sister back to their carriage. The Lords were gone, the hallway clear, but they didn’t speak until they were well away from the palace.
Kamil looked at the patchwork rabbit in his hand. It was small in his large palm. “Is the boy alive?” he asked Li Na.

Li Na stared out the window of the carriage, her palms pressed against the glass. She and Wang Lei were born three minutes apart in the middle of rice paddy during a raid of their village in China. After cutting free Wang Lei’s birth cord, their mother had died before she was able to do the same for Li Na. Lying next to their mother’s body for hours, still connected to the tiny bit of life force that remained inside her, Li Na’s inner eye had opened, making her sensitive to the life force of those around her. As she’d aged, her powers grew too, and now she could search out a spark of life in a particular individual from miles away.

She reached out and touched the little rabbit, closing her eyes. “He’s alive. So small. So innocent.” She opened her eyes and curled in on herself in the seat, shaking her head. “There is something bad with him.”

“Bad?” Chase looked at Kamil. Was it the darkness they had sensed heading toward London?

Li Na shook her head, unable to explain more. “He’s young, but he is very strong.”

“Black mage?” Chase questioned. They had come across their fair share of black magic users since taking their places in the Clan as guardians of the city. It was the calling of the Shadowlyte Clan to protect the people of London from all manner of darkness that might try to overtake them. He’d often wondered if every city was such a hotbed of depravity. Surely London was not the only place besieged by evil on a regular basis.

“We need more information.” Wang Lei propped his boot up on the seat and frowned. “Nothing about this seems right. This boy. This moment. All wrong.”

“I agree.” Chase took a deep breath as the carriage turned down the long lane toward the Shadowlyte manse. “But we’ve got a job to do, and we’ll do it.”

His brothers and sister nodded in agreement. Kamil tucked the little rabbit into the pocket of his coat, and his feet made a heavy thud on the ground as he jumped from the carriage when it stopped. “Tonight we hunt.”


A Note from the Author

I truly enjoyed writing Dogs of War. This is the first book in a series of Victorian Shifter novels that will tell the tales of the Warwick siblings and their adventures and their quests to discover love. London is a dangerous place for the draaier, and the Warwicks are the head of the most powerful shifter clan in the city. They fight against the black mages who use blood magic, but they have terrible enemies in high places. Neither the Warwicks nor the people they love are safe as long as the mages hold high positions in the government. The Crown itself is at stake, and only the Warwicks can keep England safe from the threat. 

The next book in the series is Whisper of Syn, an excerpt of which you'll find at the back of Dogs of War. Whisper is Wang Lei's story--and his heroine is Asynja. Though broken and driven nearly insane by her treatment at the hands of black mages, Syn knows there's one safe place and that's in Wang Lei's arms. 

Stay tuned for more of the Shadowlyte Saga. I hope you enjoyed this snippet from the book!

Happy Reading,

~AR DeClerck


Friday, March 2, 2018

Podcast Flash Fiction



Focus on Fantasy Romance Podcast

Flash Fiction Challenge

The ladies of the podcast were challenged to write a 500 word flash fiction piece based off three cards drawn from the Once Upon a Time game deck:

Focus on Fantasy Romance Podcast Mixer Flash Fiction #1
Cards:
Two people fell in love
An old man
They ate it at the feast

The land of Popswitch rejoiced when their prince announced his upcoming nuptials. He was nearing twenty and the people had begun to worry that the heir to the kingdom would never marry. The villages surrounding the castle set up a festival in celebration of the wedding. A white cow was slaughtered especially for the feast, and the prince himself had promised to attend the midnight toast with his new fiancée.

Word of the prince’s visit spread far and wide, and people were coming from all over to join in the festivities. The prince’s guards were worried for his safety and wanted to limit his interaction with the people as much as possible. Determined to be the best ruler he could be, the prince naysayed the idea and chose to walk among his subjects as one of them. He knew they would be surprised when they realized that his choice for a mate was not a woman, as anticipated, but a man of his own age named Prince Davin of the neighboring kingdom of Rusk. His people were not opposed to same-sex couplings, but it was unusual for the ruling class to publicly announce a joining in this manner. There would be no children, and he would need to name an heir from outside his own bloodline as his successor. Despite the obstacles, the prince knew that Davin was the perfect mate for him, and that together they could rule the kingdom honestly and justly.

The night of the festival arrived, and the prince and Davin dressed in their finest clothes. The prince made sure the wagons were loaded with gifts for the village children and they set out with their guards to the village. On the road, they passed an old man who was nearly thrown into the ditch by the passing carriage.
“Hold!” the prince called. He jumped from the carriage and approached the old man. He was bent and frail, wearing only a ragged cloak over his mud-spattered clothes. “Are you all right?”
The old man bowed low, recognizing royalty. “Well, Sire. Pardon me walking in your way.”
“Nonsense,” the prince declared. “Are you on your way to the festival?”
“Yes, Sire.”
“Come inside the carriage and ride with us, then.” The prince assisted the old man into the carriage and Davin handed him a warmed lap blanket to put around his shoulders.
“You are very kind, Sires.” The old man nodded to them both in thanks. The prince was proud of Davin for being kind, and he knew that Davin approved of his decision to allow the old man to ride with them when many would not. It was why he had fallen in love with the other man in the first place.

At the festival, they invited the old man to eat at their table, and they made sure he had the largest portion of meat, vegetables, and wine. As the night wore on the crowds grew merrier and the prince felt loved and whole among his people. He and Davin danced slow in the light of the bonfire as the bard sang a love song.
They paused when the old man approached. He held out a package wrapped in paper. “This is for you, Sires. A gift for your wedding, and a thanks for your kindness this night.”
They thanked the old man, and they unwrapped the paper to find a fine pastry inside. The prince broke it in half and gave half to Davin.
“This cake was my mother’s recipe,” the old man told them. “For every bite, good fortune and happiness will follow you for a decade.”
Together, the prince and Davin each had five bites of the pastry. They thanked the old man, and he disappeared into the firelight.
“Do you think we have fifty good years ahead?” Davin whispered to his prince.
“And many more.”

Fifty years later the kingdom of Popswitch had grown into the most prosperous land in the region. Davin and his prince ruled with fair kindness and were beloved by their people. They adopted a boy named Arthur to be their heir and changed the name of the land to Camelot. As Arthur grew, they taught him how to be a good ruler, and they died together on the morning of the fifty-first year of their reign. A cry rose up from the village when the people learned of their deaths, but they quieted when Arthur came to the balcony to address them. In the crowd below, an old man watched with a spark in his eye, a wily grin, and a paper-wrapped package in his pocket.

THE END


If you liked this story, please leave a comment below. You can also hear me read the 4 stories on the air during the podcast, and hear as the other hosts guess who wrote the stories and why. 



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