AZIHEADER

First Revised Chapter of Azimuth – Available This December

ATTACK3

Buckyball being attacked by N.O.G. (nano-engineered-organism)

Illustrated by Elayne Griffith

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Chapter One

2200 A.D.

Present

“Men have become the tools of their tools.” 

– Henry David Thoreau

Like a nebula, I watched the glass shatter and burst into a cloud of glittering shards, spilling countless droplets of blue liquid. Looking up to a night sky illuminated by fractals of fireworks, my contacts enhanced them with a pageantry of fiery figures. I didn’t understand then as phantom visions flared to life that we were just particles of stars, nothing but shadows in shafts of falling photons.

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Five thousand bleeding feet and soulless eyes follow me day and night. Specters from afar, shadows on my trail, but never a sound, never any closer, only the distant ebb and flow of shuffling soles. For six months I have traveled the wasted landscape, a Moses of these monsters, but the worst monster is the man reflected back at me through the eyes of all my victims. Since the nanocide, I hunted down every living survivor, and now only two remained, this man before me, and the woman still ahead.

My eyes leveled at the last man between me, and humanity’s future.

“Logan!” The lunatic yelled my name and grabbed fistfuls of sand, trying to anchor himself to the world of the living. “If you kill her, you kill us all!”

I squinted, reached out my armored hand, and just to amuse myself, curled my fingers into the shape of a gun. His eyes grew wide as I said, “Bang.”

He screamed, fingernails tearing at his chest as the nanos shot from my suit and spread across his skin. Within seconds they reached his brain, and what was left of him collapsed in a twitching mass of flesh.

With a flourish, I blew the imaginary smoke from my imaginary firearm while the misty cloud of bots returned to my liquid exo-skeleton. I turned away, and my last mode of transportation gave a snort as I walked over to him.

“Shhh,” I said, stroking the stallion’s smooth black skin that rippled like dark oil under my hand. “Only two of us left now. Only two little monkeys jumping on the bed.” I laughed aloud at the one thing in the world that wasn’t funny: the fact that I could count on one hand how many living, breathing humans still walked this planet. I laid my forehead on the horse’s neck. It felt nice to lay my head against his warmth even if it did smell like plastic with a dash of ions.

A sizzling noise caught my attention, though I knew very well what the sound was. The specialized bullets were disassembling the body molecule by molecule. Soon it would be like the body had never existed at all. Dust to dust. Atom to atom. Amber grasses rustled, and I closed my eyes to better feel the breeze and smell the earth. Earth. That’s all we ever were and ever would be. Beneath my feet lay the bones of billions, the decayed bodies of many living things. Like morbid armor, the planet wore a crusted layer of death, a mesh of infinite interlocking links between our greaves of grief.

“A bit harsh, don’t you think?”

She stood above the remains, arms crossed with that flirtatious smirk I loved so much.

“Elise.” My eyes always softened when they gazed upon hers, even if I loathed seeing her.

“He was your last friend, you know.”

With a shake of my head, I looked at the dry ground. “No he wasn’t. Not anymore.”

She tossed her long dark hair behind her shoulder. “Why? Since when?”

“You know why.”

With a cocked hip and cute pout, she asked, “Am I your enemy too?”

Giving a short, forced laugh, I glanced down then back up at her. She was gone, and my smile faded. “No.” I whispered. “Just wrong.”

At first I’d fought the visions, the hallucinations of a traumatized mind, but now I embraced them. She was my only companion, other than the thousands of walking corpses at my back.

My only other non-hominid companion, Buckyball, shoved his large head against my chest.

“All right. All right.” I smiled. “We’ll go find her, and maybe we’ll find some new shoes too.”

Unwelcome, but all too familiar, came the sound of skin scraping across ground. Raising my eyes to the nearest hill, I saw them stop, all five thousand of my ominous followers, and the shuffling tide became ragged waves of breath. Silently I suffocated under the weight of their empty stares, this gaunt garrison, this constant reminder of why the gun should be aimed at my own flesh. All I could do was look for shoes made for tiny feet, and hope that one day little arms would wrap around me in a loving embrace once again.

With effort, I tried to ignore the horde, and heaved myself up onto Bucky’s back. His skin-armor shifted and slid to adhere my armored legs to his sides. No amount of sudden maneuvering would dislodge me. We were like one animal. Soon as I was astride and secured, our minds synced up. Now we truly were one organism. Since I was the more intelligent species, and stronger minded, Buckyball trusted me. He’d go anywhere I told him to, even off a cliff if I so wished. Never would I find a more trusting and loyal friend, certainly not in a human anyway.

He could sense where I wanted to go, the distant abandoned city, so he threw his head high, black spikes protruding then retracting along the crest of his neck, and made for the overgrown buildings at a good clip. I thought of my purpose, my reason to keep going, Elise. She was the last one. Clouds of insects chattered and buzzed, clacking their wings, as we disturbed their private lives in the high-rise grasses. Bucky’s drumming on the hard-packed dirt was like a lullaby, the swaying of his stride soothing me into a rhythmic existence. Ahead stood the sinew of humankind’s ingenuity, while behind followed the ghosts of gods.

AZIMUTH

Why I choose to live in poverty – for now

freedom

I’m a 31 year old college graduate (and graduated with Piña Colada honors – 3.49). I received a 1094 on my SAT (because my language arts section was “genius” and my math section was “numbskull,” lol ;) ), and have worked for the Long Beach School District, a well-paid marketing position, and even Homeland Security in Los Angeles……so WHY am I working on an organic farm making less than $15,000 a year now???

I shall illuminate:

If you might recall, in 2009 the economy crashed.

I was laid off. I got another job. I was laid off again, and again, and again. Eventually after being laid off for the fourth time, I was despondently sitting in a coffee shop drinking a cup of coffee I couldn’t afford, and my mind flashed to the image of a little black unicorn statue that had always sat in my mother’s display case.

Being prone to fantasy as I have always been, I fell through the wardrobe into an entirely new world. I imagined the little statue coming to life, and whisking me away to a magical land where adventure awaited. I’m sure it looked like I’d slipped some Ecstasy into my coffee while I sat there smiling and giggling to myself as characters popped in and out of existence before my eyes.

I was suddenly consumed by an excitement, a joy, a sense of purpose I had never felt before. Racing back to where I was living in Orange County (which was the home of a very kind family friend, because my other options were move in with the parents or into my car *shudder*), I began frantically typing away on my computer.

Within a week I had the first rough half of The Lunar Prophecies, now known as Sapphire. But more than that, I had stumbled upon something I loved, something that filled me with happiness, passion, and purpose. I wanted to become an author.

I found another job, but I also found myself feeling much like a wild horse penned in a tiny enclosure. More than ever I wanted to break through the gates, and gallop into a boundless world of possibilities and freedom. So, not exactly being a city-girl in the first place, I moved back home to the country, quit the well-paying city-job, broke up with the city-boyfriend, and decided to devote as much time as possible to my passion.

Thus, I sought jobs that could pay the bills, that I enjoyed doing, and still allowed me time to write. I finally found such a job at an organic farm-to-table organization, and have written and self-published a novel, a novella, four cartoon books, have two more novels and seven children’s books in the works, and am about to publish part one of my sci-fi, nano-zombie, novel, Azimuth.

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I also recently entered and was a prize winning finalist for a Hugh Howey short story writing competition at Booktrack.com, which—not only allowed me to buy a new computer to continue writing—but has bolstered my confidence and determination to keep pursuing my unconventional dreams (you can find the winning entry here).

In the end, I may be poor for now (hopefully not for the next ten years, lol), but I’m happy, and the fields of possibility are blossoming with passion-flowers.

Lean into the discomfort, into the fear….AND YOU MIGHT JUST WIN A WRITING COMPETITION!

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 6.49.28 PMI’m one of those, “hope for the best, expect the apocalypse,” types (worked great as kid when it came to tests—”I’m gonna get a D…. C+?!!!! YES!!!!”) Never disappointed, lol ;) 

But this is WAY better than a C+! I’m one of the five finalists in a Hugh Howey fanfic competition, which means I win $1000 no matter what, but they haven’t revealed the grand prize winner yet (All the furniture and my nails are now ground down to splinters). You can see the details and my winning story here at Booktrack (a super cool site that puts music & sound to words). 

As a struggling, newbie writer this has been one of the most inspiring and validating experiences ever. If you’re also a struggling writer, lost in the woods, don’t just sit there in despair and fear, do something! Like enter a competition, or do a public book signing, or reading, or send off query letters (a million times), whatever you do, doing nothing will result in……nothing. 

That was a terrible run on sentence, but you get the gist.

Also, follow, become friends with, talk to, learn from other outstanding, talented, and big-hearted authors. Emulate what you want to become. Here’s a list of badass authors (and human beings in general) to check out:

Hugh HoweyMichael BunkerTim GrahlEmily MacGowenElodie WestPeter RavlichRoz MarshallPatrice FitzgeraldForbes WestKayla ThomasStefan BolzLesley SmithTricia Riel I could list a hundred more, but I better stop, lol ;)

Far as I see it, if I hadn’t won, or if I don’t win the grand prize, then kudos to the winner (I still made new writer-friends in the end!), and I just gotta step up my game and learn to write EVEN gooder! Goodier. Much gooder. Goodenest. Guten Tag?

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20-god_of_evanescence_by_sanguisgelidus

Join the adventure! Be a character in Nemean (Book 2 of the Shielded Realms)!

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All you have to do is like or comment on this post, and you could be a centaur, or a dragon, or a mermaid, or maybe even something like THIS cool creature! ;)20-god_of_evanescence_by_sanguisgelidus

I just figured out how I want to thank all y’all for being so supportive and awesome throughout my let’s-give-up-a-secure-future-and-eating-and-follow-a-crazy-dream journey! (As in all my friends, family, fans, writing buddies, inspirational guru types, etc) 

I’m excited, and I hope it might make you excited!

Okay, so whomever likes this post, or comments, I’ll put your name in a magical jar, and I’ll put a bunch of magical creatures into another magical jar, and THEN (next month perhaps) I’ll randomly pull a name + a creature and that’s who (or what) you’ll be in the story! I might even draw a pic of you too (as your creature.

—disclaimer: if you’re not picked, if there are too many, I’ll still put you in the acknowledgements—

I’ll be all dramatic and dorky about it in a “naming” video too. I mean, it’s a journey, and you’ve all been there with/for me, so let’s be all symbolic and stuff about it, or whatever.

And by all means, share this around. The more the merrier :)

 

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Sneak Peak at Nemean – Book 2 of The Shielded Realms Series

Okay, so this is the very first chapter and rough draft of Nemean :) After a year hiatus, I finally got inspired again. How? No idea. Probably all the coffee and lack of sleep. But it’s been germinating for a long time, so I guess it finally sprouted. Here’s a good article about finding inspiration, though :) 

For book number one click on Sapphire.

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All right, without further adieu: Nemean.

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The pirate ship rolled and dipped through the golden emerald waters as the giant sea serpent pulled it into a melting sunset. It might not have been a pirate ship, but Ava and Lula decided it was after exploring the abandoned cabins and finding a tri-cornered hat with a dirty old feather. For a moment Lula had managed to turn the feather red, but it quickly faded back to pink. It was now floating away at a sickening speed as they raced onward.

“You didn’t have to throw my feather into the ocean,” said Ava, scowling at her friend, and watching the pink abomination disappear.

Lula put a hand on her hip while clinging to a rope with the other. “It was for your own good.”

Her reply was met with an exaggerated pouty face under a featherless pirate hat.

“Fine,” said Lula, rolling her eyes, “I’ll find you another one.”

“I want a pink one.”

Lula smacked her hands to her face, trying to hide a snort of laughter.

The ship gave a wild lurch, throwing Ava head over heels onto the slick wooden floors.

“How many times have I told you to hold onto things,” said Lula.

Crawling on hands on knees, Ava made her way back to the side of the ship, crammed her hat back on, and stood up. “What’s it doing?” she asked, ignoring Lula’s scolding, and craning her head over the rail.

Lula flew up higher to get a glimpse of their steed, the five hundred foot long, glowing serpent. The ship was tethered to two huge ropes that were wound around the monster’s neck near its gills. Why it didn’t dive into the fathomless depths to free itself, Ava and Lula had no idea.

“It looks like it was trying to catch a whale, or something,” she said, trying to keep up with the ship. She finally got tired and let herself catch a passing sail rope. Shielding her eyes, she nodded her head. “Yep. It was a whale.”

Ava blinked in astonishment, and looked around the empty deck. An old barrel rolled back and forth between a pile of ropes and other barrels that were still lashed to the deck.

“Do you think the sea serpent ate everyone?” she asked as Lula came half climbing, half flying back down to her.

Lula shrugged. “Maybe. But the merpeople were pretty secretive about it, weren’t they.” It was a statement more than a question, and Ava just nodded, remembering their encounter with the merfolk.

With a sigh she asked, “What if we never find Orin and Antares?”

Lula scoffed, and wagged her finger. “Don’t you say that! Of course we’ll find them.” She blinked and looked away. “We’ll find them.”

Ava smiled, and blinked back the tears that threatened to leak out every time she thought of her friends’ absence. Lula had been devastated when Antares never returned after a hunting trip with Orin.

“He’s so strong.” Lula sniffed. “How could someone so strong never come back?” She looked at Ava, her lips trembling.

Ava put out her hand, and Lula landed on her palm. “Because Orin’s and trouble, and if anyone can find him, it’ll be Antares because he’s strong.”

Lula smiled and nodded her head, wiping her nose with the back of her tiny hand.

Ava shivered. “Let’s go eat something.”

“Yeah,” agreed Lula, flying up and wrapping her arms around a rope.

She watched Ava slowly making her way along the railing to the main cabin, but remained behind. The serpent’s large head weaved back and forth. It had a horse-like nose, but with billowing umbrella tentacles where the ears would have been, and flowing fins instead of a mane. As the orange sun dissolved into dark waves, blue, purple, and red flashes snaked down the serpent’s body like a deep-sea creature. The most beautiful part of the monster, however, was its eyes. Usually covered by a filmy lens during the day, they opened at night and glowed bright aqua marine. Lula’s fingers loosened on the rope, before quickly tightening again.

“Are you crazy?” she mumbled to herself.

Since their first night on the ship-chariot, she had an overwhelming desire to fly up to the serpent’s eye.

“Yeah, and get inhaled through its gills,” she concluded.

“Lula!”

Startled, she looked across the deck to see Ava trying to keep the backlit cabin door open, but every time the ship pitched, she was thrown off balance and the door slammed shut.

“Are—”

Slam!

“You—”

Slam!

“Com—”

Slam!

“Ing?”

Slam!

Laughing, Lula flew through the buffeting wind and salty spray only to get the door slammed in her face.

“Hey!” she shouted, before it opened again and Ava made a hilariously awkward bow before falling on her butt.

“Come in,” she said, grinning while Lula zipped inside right before the door slammed again.

Lula looked around the demolished room with chairs and tables upended, and food scattered all over the floor. “So, what’s for dinner?”

“Oh no!” yelled Ava, turning around and slapping her forehead. “I forgot to do the fastening spell!”

A pearl-fruit rolled by followed by a plate of cured fish with ogling eyes.

Lula heaved a sigh. “I’m not doing the dishes this time.”

Author, Illustrator, Unicorn Wrangler

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