Nakul huffed as he lugged the bucket toward the river.
“Why do I always have to fetch the water?”
The dusty path slowly wound its way downhill. A constant swarm of gnats nipped at the boy, further souring his mood. At first, he tried reasoning with them but realized their thirst and hunger made that impossible.
“It’s just when she’s about to do something interesting, too!”
The heavy bucket bounced annoyingly against his legs. He hoped it would leave a bruise, causing Indali to feel guilty.
“Don’t touch that, Nakul! Shh, Nakul! Back to work, Nakul! All she does is order me around.”
He had come to learn from Indali, but she hadn’t taught him anything as far as he was concerned. For months now, the woman merely lectured Nakul about responsibility and the danger of communicating with animals. He had tried to argue he couldn’t stop hearing what they said. Nonetheless, Indali insisted mastering his ability to tune out the surrounding wildlife’s constant chatter was important.
The allure of any well-written story is its ability to inspire purposeful action. The perennially draw of such books lies in their ability to weave thought-provoking plots centered around relatable characters struggling to find meaning in life. Discerning one’s calling in life is difficult work. Immersive fiction can clear away the myriad of inane distractions in modern society, allowing one to contemplate fundamental truths better. Many of us have a favorite book we return to time and time for inspiration.
Upon reading, The Lord of the Rings, I found myself immediately drawn to Tolkien’s concept of immortals donning limited, material form to enter a corrupt, broken world in hopes of bolstering the forces of good against the rising tide of evil. The clarity of purpose Tolkien’s characters possess is compelling. As crazy as it sounds, I strive even in the most mundane ways to emulate Gandalf’s example. Of course, this leads me to wonder why I tend to turn to this work of fiction for guidance others typically seek from religion or philosophy. Reading fantasy and science fiction seems to inspire and guide my attempts to find small ways of bringing good into this world.
With an insane leap of faith, I recently quit a stable, unfulfilling job to start my own creative writing business. I sought to craft meaningful stories capable of rousing others to pursue their unique dreams and explore life’s meaning. Almost a year later, I find myself often filled with doubt, guilt, and struggling to make progress. Happily, fate seems to have sent help my way in the form of a non-fiction book of all things! But, this different approach was what this self-proclaimed sci-fi and fantasy geek needed.
Dr. Crowell’s book validated the worthiness of my wish to do something meaningful with my life. I learned fortifying levels of happiness and health supercharges unique, innate abilities promoting ever greater productivity. Being new to self-employment means I consistently find it difficult to decide how to allocate my time and effort effectively. Dr. Crowell presented a straightforward, effective method to refine my vision and break it down into timely goals.
Reading Dr. Crowell’s work exposed the internal, unproductive mindsets I’ve unknowingly harbored. Her self-deprecating tone, amusing stories, and “I’ve been there, too!” attitude have given me the confidence to begin challenging my inner demons. My outlook is changing, adapting to a new understanding of the importance of celebrating even the smallest of victories. Now, I try to remember mistakes are simply opportunities to grow.
This uniquely transformational book is perfect for those who dream big and yearn to realize the work we were born to do.
Hello All! After weeks of diligent work, I am proud to announce I’ve submitted my first story for consideration with the magazine, Shoreline of Infinity. September’s themed issue will feature fairytales with a science fiction twist. Anyone involved in writing knows, competition is fierce and rejections are inevitable. I’m just happy I finally had the guts to throw my hat into the ring! One can never succeed without trying! I’ll keep you posted as to when and where you can read my story.
In the meantime, my focus has returned to practicing my skills with flash fiction!
Sorry, no fresh fiction to present today. Wanted to thank everyone for supporting me. I truly value every read/view, interaction and follow!
I love writing and am grateful for the opportunity to try my hand at being a full time author. That being said, we all know how difficult it can be to follow a dream. My goal from the start has been to listen, learn, read, support others and practice, practice, practice writing.
This blog has been quiet for the past two weeks and I wanted you to know I haven’t given up!
Writing sprints and marathons can be great for connecting with other writers and holding yourself accountable to the promise you made to yourself to write every day!
I’ve found a group which works well for me and wanted to share it with you. Perhaps, someone else is looking for a group to write with? The more the merrier!
The group meets 9 am and 4 pm EST on Zoom and is hosted by AJ Harper. Anyone can join! AJ has a wealth of experience, knowledge and practical advice for anyone wanting to write and publish. You have to register to attend and there is a “pay-what-you-can” fee. It’s been well worth it for me!
Here’s the link to learn more about AJ and reach out if your interested.
I’ve dedicated myself to attending these author club sprints. New to being self-employed, I find having two meetings to be book-ends for my day is extremely helpful. It gives me an opportunity to socialize and network which is hard to do when you work from home!
Being involved and showing willingness to support other authors has led to exciting opportunities! I sat in as an author deliberated which book cover design to select, cheered hearing someone got a book deal, have learned tons about grammar, editing and style and lately I was invited to write an endorsement for an author’s upcoming book! (More on that in next post!!)
So, I have been busy! Failing to post new flash fiction and short stories here on my blog has been disappointing for me! Again, I’m sorry!
Going forward I endeavor to share all the resources I come across that have helped me grow as a writer as well as continue to post the best original fiction I can craft!
Here’s to all the storytellers who inspire the world!!!
(With Camp NaNoWriMo starting next week, some may struggle with writer’s block during this writing challenge. Don’t fret! To help with that, I’m reposting these awesome tips for beating the block. Good luck to everyone participating! – Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)
Hope you are are staying safe and writing wonderful work. And if you are feeling stuck with your writing, that’s alright too. Sometimes, it can be hard to get the words on the page. Don’t be discouraged. Writer’s block happens to everyone, myself included.
So today, I’m sharing some tips for beating the block and rekindling inspiration once again.
Be honest and ask yourself, “how do I break out of this funk I’m in?” and “What’s stopping me from writing?” Depending on what you need, there are three courses of action to take. Whatever route you choose, find what works for you.
I love writing, but sometimes coaxing the words on to the page can be a real slog! This week has been especially tough as I returned to working on the next chapter for my book, Jupiter’s Embrace.
I have to admit I’ve struggled a lot with this story and given into the temptation to leave it on the back burner more often than not. But, I’m committed to figuring out what ultimately happens to Riker, Pauline and Johnny.
This project began in response to the word prompt: float.
The original piece was a mere 500 words portraying a snapshot of a prison transport ship ferrying a hardened criminal to a maximum security facility floating deep within Jupiter’s atmosphere.
I found myself wondering how Riker wound up on that spaceship.
Jupiter’s Embrace has become a story about how a man guilty of one crime becomes a convenient scapegoat for an even greater one.
Much remains to be discovered, but I know Riker is a flawed character worthy of redemption. He’s the classic example of someone at the wrong place at the wrong time, who knows too much and wishes he knew nothing at all.
If you have read along so far, I hope you enjoy chapter four. But, if you haven’t read the first three chapters, I encourage you to do that first.
A Short Story Set in a Mythical Nordic Medieval World.
Glossary of Terms and Characters
Völvur: a shamanic order of women capable of foresight and communing with the otherworld.
Jötunn: god-like elemental forces of nature from the mountains, forests and wilds of the tundra. (Giants.)
Gobban: a Norseman, a smith and master craftsman of weapons.
Kalda: servant of Skadi, an ice sprite.
Skadi: winter goddess of jötunnic origins.
Seiomenn: men who practice conjuring magics.
Greta: the queen’s seeress.
Alfar: fairies, elves.
Surtr: Norse god of fire.
Muspellheim: elemental realm of fire.
Steinvegg: a stonewall.
Holde seg: a command to hold, stay, or remain still.
Part 7 “Winter Thaws”
Kalda’s suggestion flummoxed Gobban. The smith stared uncomprehendingly at the ice sprite.
“Isaz?” he asked incredulously.
An involuntary titter escaped Gobban’s pursed lips, replaced by silence as he observed Kalda’s sincerity. Forcing a cough, he cleared his throat to compose himself.
“I typically shy away from Isaz. The cruel cold tends to induce brittle weakness in steel.”
A fiery, azure light flared in Kalda’s eyes as she scowled fiercely. Gobban stepped back, head titled, eyes wide, and hands in the air. He simpered, attempting to mollify Kalda’s rising ire.
“Now, of course, Isaz can represent such things, but I have you, Kalda, to thank for showing me a different side to winter’s power.”
The ice sprite raised an eyebrow inquiringly, emboldening the smith to continue talking.
“With your guidance, my eyes have been opened to intriguing possibilities. Tonight, I have witnessed impossible feats wrought with the help of your wintry magic.”
“You understand then how the ice rune is crucial to achieving your goal?” Kalda asked.
“Isaz’s chill bite may diminish the beast’s inferno, making its fires unequal to those we used in forging this sword.”
“I believe victory will be won by the sword’s ability to endure,” Kalda said.
“Good. How do you affix the sigils to your work?”
Gobban led Kalda to a workbench. He laid the blade before them and fetched a small clay pot from a shelf.
“My family has perfected the recipe for an acid capable of eating into the steel.”
“How can this clay jar contain such a liquid without failing?”
“Simple. Nothing magical is involved. Manure from a cow solely fed spinach and kale greens is liberally mixed into the mud.”
Smirking, the smith removed the jar’s lid and dipped a fine brush into the etching fluid.
“I suppose your brush is made from spinach leaves?” Kalda quipped.
“Nope, just a regular brush. I trim the burnt end off after each use. One will last quite a while.”
The ice sprite rolled her eyes.
“I was hoping for something a little more exciting, master smith.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
Gobban and Kalda giggled, forgetting momentarily the monstrous evil threatening the kingdom. As their laughter subsided, the smith regarded the ice sprite solemnly.
“Thank you for coming to our aide. I admit I was anxious, not knowing what to expect. But, ironically, your laugh, your presence warms my heart.”
Kalda nodded, reflecting.
“It surprises me, but I am pleased to be in your company. My kind and yours so rarely have such close dealings. Many questions arise in my mind. Being here awakes memories I had long forgotten.”
Curiosity gripped Gobban, but he held his tongue. Sensing Kalda would say no more, he clapped his hands, rubbing them together.
“Let me demonstrate the technique I employ,” he said.
Melting a lump of wax, the smith fashioned a mold outlining first one rune and then another until six letters ran down the length of the blade. The ice sprite watched intently as Gobban carefully applied the acid to the spaces surrounded by wax. The liquid fizzed and bubbled, wisps of vapor wafting towards the ceiling.
“It doesn’t take long.” Gobban offered.
Kalda remained quiet, seemingly deep in thought.
“That ought to do it. Here’s where I usually make a mess.”
Juggling the sword and clay pot, Gobban tilted the blade, causing the acid to run down its narrow length haphazardly. Most of the liquid successfully streamed back into the jar. After mopping up the small spill, he gently removed the wax, buffing the steel clean.
“One last thing to do. Then our work is done!”
Gobban attached a bronze guard and sturdy wooden handle to the tang. Fine wire and two strong bolts held everything together tightly. The smith sighed with pride as he presented the finished sword to Kalda.
“It is a beautiful sword.” Gobban beamed.
“Yes, it is. But do you believe it will be sufficient? Will it slay the beast?”
Gobban sighed grimly.
“If our sword fails the prince, my kingdom is doomed. There be nothing left to do but flee. And yet, I dare to hope this weapon will be exactly what his Highness requires.”
The smith smiled wanly, attempting to convey confidence. The ice sprite seemed not to notice. Absorbed in thought, she stared intently at the runes on the sword. Silence stretched as her eyes burned and her face hardened. Gobban struggled to read Kalda.
“What? You wrestle with something. Tell me.”
The ice sprite’s eyes bathed Gobban in a tangible radiance of sapphire light. The set of her chin was tense, her smile ferocious as she stood tall and proud.
“Gobban, there is yet one thing more I can offer to help you and your people.”
Something in the tone of her voice brought a lump to his throat as his heart quickened.
“You have done more than you know already, Kalda. What further aid could you render?”
“A foresight is upon me. Smoke and flame fill my mind. I fear the sword as-is will not be enough.”
Gobban shook his head.
“The beast’s fires will melt this weapon like all the others.”
“Why this sudden doubt?”
The smith squinted, raising a hand against the increasing glare from the aura of blue light surging out to surround Kalda.
“I see clearly now the wisdom in my mistress’ choice to send me to answer your king’s call for aid.”
“What are you doing?” Gobban shouted as her rotating screen of snow whipped faster.
“I will imbue this blade with my essence.”
Horrified, Gobban gasped.
“You can willingly part with an aspect of your life force?”
“I am prepared to hand over the entirety of my power if need be.
“Everything? Can you survive such a sacrifice?”
“My mistress, Skadi, has bestowed a great gift upon me; a means to redemption.”
“I do not understand.”
“The sword must be magically warded against the beast’s infernal fire.”
“The runes will….”
“My wintry spirit will amplify Isaz’s potency, protecting the sword. Its power will overwhelm and subdue the beast, allowing the steel to pierce and freeze its fiery heart.”
“Kalda, no! You are not one of the völvur. Pay no heed to this false vision. I have clouded your judgment, foolishly giving voice to my fears and uncertainty!”
The growing maelstrom of ice and snow writhed around the sprite filling the air with an ethereal sound as if a thousand tiny bells were simultaneously ringing.
“Gobban, for years beyond count I have existed, created when the world slept beneath majestic glaciers blanketing this realm in an endless winter. I am not afraid.”
“Kalda, please no!”
“Gobban, I welcome this. Being here has reminded me of my desire to right past wrongs.”
“Stop! I forbid this!”
Gobban held the sword behind him.
“I have made my choice, human. There is nothing you can do.”
“But, why? The beast will be defeated! The völvur seers foresee it. Think of the weapons, the tools, the art we could create together!”
Kalda’s magical presence expanded, filling the room.
“Please, Kalda. Stop. I know it sounds ludicrous, but I love you.”
“Master smith, you have thawed my icy heart, producing the closest thing to love a winter fairy may feel. Thank you. Goodbye, Gobban.”
A blizzard of energies engulfed the smith. Gobban flung his arms up to shield himself from the icy tempest, the sword clattered to the floor.
“No! Please gods, no!”
Kalda’s voice sung reassuringly above the din.
“I will live on in the winter and within the blade itself. Grieve not, Gobban.”
The smith fell to his knees, numbly watching the vortex of magic quicken. It hovered above the sword, channeling the frigid forces toward the blade. A brilliant orb of sapphire light crackled with energy at the point of contact as Kalda’s power surged into the weapon. Gobban could no longer see Kalda. A blinding radiance obscured everything from view until flashing and disappearing with a loud clap of thunder. The magic exploded, throwing the smith to the ground. The concussion extinguished the forge fire throwing the room into darkness as a wild wind ripped its way outside.
Silence dominated. The smith took a moment to collect himself. He lay on the floor and shivered under a new coating of snow and ice. Ghostly afterimages from the dazzling light danced across Gobban’s vision in the darkness. As his eyes recovered, he became aware of lighter areas of blackness outlining the windows and from somewhere inside a faint blue glimmer.
Sitting up, he beheld the sword gleaming with a radiance absent before. There was no sign of the ice sprite. Gently picking the blade up, Gobban studied it. The runes etched into the steel shimmered with an otherworldly blue light. One rune sparkled more intensely than the others.
“Isaz,” he whispered.
Responding to his voice, the sword crackled with light extending from the runes to illuminate the entire blade. A chill seeped down into the handle nipping his hand. Ignoring the frigid pain caused by touching the sword, Gobban cradled the weapon and wept.
“Kalda, your sacrifice will not be forgotten.”
Gobban’s heart ached to recognize the runes burned with Kalda’s familiar sapphire blue light. Loath to move, to disturb the solemnity of this grievous moment, he knelt quietly. The smith grappled with warring emotions. He knew he should be grateful, consumed with joyous relief. They had succeeded in creating a weapon to defend the kingdom. But sorrow and guilt welled up, threatening to drown him.
Listening to the shutters banging in the breeze, Gobban chided himself. He acknowledged the tragedy of Kalda’s death, but his emotions dumbfounded him. Humans and fey folk rarely interacted. The smith had spent one night with the ice sprite. He did not understand why he felt this way.
A faint, unfamiliar noise pulled Gobban out of his reveries. With dawn beginning to break, he wondered if the sound had come from outside. The smith refused to face the world just yet. He stood, walked to each window, and closed the shutters. He stumbled forward in the gloom using the sword’s light to see. After some effort, Gobban managed to rekindle a frost-covered torch. He grimaced in dismay surveying the sodden remains of the forge fire in the smoky, guttering torchlight.
Again, a muted sound caught his attention. He raised the flickering light to illuminate more of the smithy. A whispering murmur percolated from somewhere inside. Cautiously stepping forward, he searched the room. On the far side of the forge, a figure lay huddled on the floor.
Shocked, Gobban’s heart skipped a beat. His mind raced; he wondered if this was Kalda’s body. He hadn’t anticipated anything corporal remaining behind after the ice sprite had selflessly poured out her spirit. Gobban realized he was shaking, racked with indecision. He dreaded having to gaze upon her lifeless form.
The smith stood rooted in pace, hesitating until he perceived a quiet groan coming from the prone form. With a disbelieving, desperate hope, Gobban catapulted forward. Collapsing next to the body, he gawked. Coarse fabric and the filthy pelt of an unknown animal covered the figure. Long hair hid the person’s face.
Hand trembling, he reached out to turn the body over. Through the grime and dirt, Gobban could see it was a woman. He nearly leaped out of his skin when she coughed. He leaned closer, scrutinizing the stranger. Wild, dark, unkempt hair framed a beautiful face. Tentatively, he leaned forward to listen to her breathe. Instantly, he could feel her warmth and vitality. The woman stirred, eyes fluttering open with a look of surprise.
Gobban studied the woman’s face. He recognized her features, but instead of pale, unnaturally white features, Kalda had a tanned, ruddy complexion. Deep, dark brown eyes gazed back at the smith. Astonished, Kalda studied her hands and felt her face. She smiled, crying. Gobban assumed she shed tears of joy.
“But, how? I don’t understand,” he asked.
“The gods have restored me to what I was eons ago before the völvur’s magic made me into something different.”
“You, you were human? I mean, you’re human?” Gobban whispered.
“Yes, human.” she laughed.
Gobban clasped Kalda tightly in an embrace. Showering her face with kisses.
“I don’t understand. But, it doesn’t matter. You’re alive!” the smith said.
“The gods have forgiven me, Gobban. I have a second chance.”
“But, why? What did you…?”
Kalda touched a finger to Gobban’s lips, silencing him.
“Not yet. Please. I promise I will explain soon,”
Sensing Gobban desperately yearned for some explanation, Kalda sighed, shaking her head.
“I was foolish and vain. Lust for power consumed me, stealing my humanity.”
“But, you’re not… I mean, you’ve… changed?”
“I believe I have. Yes. Yes, I have. After all these years, meeting you has changed everything.”
Kalda smiled broadly and giggled. Gobban smirked, blushing. He shook his head, struggling to reconcile the youthful image before him with her claim to ancientness.
“Older than you can count, master smith. And yet, I am beginning to feel young again.”