Cover Reveal Part 2

The Cover of a book might be harder to create than any other illustration…The Adventure Cover Part 2

I haven’t asked Joseph Apolinar his thoughts on this, but I can say the cover took longer to produce than any other illustration in The Adventure.

There’s just something to it that makes it more daunting, like riding a larger motorcycle. It’s still riding, but there’s so much more to think about!

But that extra time on the cover was totally worth it. Traditional publishing houses decide the cover of a book, not the author. They do this all based on what they think will sell. It makes sense but it’s such a cold way of going about it.

This cover, to me, has a lot of heart and came out beautifully. Of course I want it to sell but more than that, it’s a cover I’m proud to present.

Here’s the next part of the The Adventure’s cover. I’ll present the full image this Thursday! Be sure to stop by =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S Any new guesses on which adventure story this image pertains to?

 

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The Tournament 2

Welcome back to the adventure! This week we get to explore an adventure for a second time and see what other kinds of dangers and treasures exist for the reader to find. Let’s get started =)

The Tournament

Rainwater drips from the porch above you and the siding of the building weeps with moisture but, for the moment, you’ve found a rain-4-1520316dry spot. It’s just a sheltered piece of cobblestone. A two-foot by two-foot section where the rain isn’t drenching the ground. There’s not even enough space to lie down but the spot’s yours and, as long as you don’t move from it, no one will challenge you.

You’re not homeless. You just can’t find an Inn that’s not already full because of the tournaments being held at the coliseum. For the moment, you may as well be homeless. But at least you’re a well-armed homeless.

Thus why no one will challenge you for your shelter.

A sword peeks over your right shoulder from its holster on your back. From your belt hangs a woodsman’s knife the length of your forearm and, unstrapped since you’re not hunting, you hold a bow in your right hand. Over your left shoulder, the fletching of arrows plays peek-a-boo around the hood of your cloak.

All of the weaponry right now is just extra weight. Your cloak is the prize possession with the rain.

But you’ve come here for a purpose. The tournament boasts a multitude of challenges. Fencing, archery, jousting, hand to hand combat. They all pay well for the winner.

You’re not here for the pay, though, you’re here for a person. For years you’ve heard nothing from your family, ostracized because of your choice to be a woods ranger instead of following in the family baking business. But last week a messenger found you.

“They took Ruben,” the messenger said, “because your family couldn’t pay the rent on the bakery. He’s being forced to work the quarry until he pays off the amount due.”

“And what do they want from me?” you asked. Working the quarry was hard, dangerous work but, considering the amount on the bakery couldn’t be that high, Ruben shouldn’t be there that long.

“The family hasn’t paid in over a year,” the messenger explained, “so Ruben’s assigned the quarry for the next five years to pay everything off.”

No one survived the quarry that long.

“All right,” you conceded, “what does the family want?”

“In the tournaments, you can ask for the release of a worker if you win one of the challenges.”

You have an ‘ah ha” moment. No on in the family could win such a challenge, expect you. You considered briefly refusing. The family hasn’t spoken to you in years, much lest lent a hand whenever you needed something.

But this was family and a man’s life. You couldn’t refuse.

“When does the tournament start?” you asked.

“Beginning of the week.”

And thus why you’re hunkered under a porch instead of sleeping in an Inn. By the time the messenger found you, you only had two days to get to the capital. It was a three day trip.

An Inn wouldn’t have helped much anyway. There’s only an hour or two before sunrise and then you have to be at the coliseum to check in as a contestant. So as you wait for the warmth to arrive from the rising sun, you debate whether to try archery or fencing first. You’ve never attempted jousting and don’t want to start now. As a last resort you can try hand-to-hand combat but that’s not your forte and you’d prefer to start with your stronger skills.

So do you try…

A. Archery?

or

B. Fencing?

The Tournament Option B.Fencing

roman-coliseum-1479942The rain subsided with the morning sun and now you’re standing in line to register for the tournaments with the sun warming your shoulders. It burned off the mist within an hour and your cloak’s almost dry as you approach the table at the entrance to the coliseum.

The man behind the table holds his pen over a sheet of paper. He waits for you to say which challenge you want to participate in.

“Fencing,” you inform him.

He grunts and accepts the papers you hold out containing your information. They tell him everything from your name to where you were born and to which family.

“Isn’t this a baking family?” he asks, pointing at your last name.

“Mostly,” you reply, perhaps a bit shortly but you’ve been questioned like that your whole life.

He eyes you and your weaponry and then shrugs and hands your papers back.

“The fencing field’s to the left past the archery section,” he says, “first tournament starts in an hour.”

You thank him and move on.

The coliseum’s huge, made to support gaming events and trials but today, instead of hosting a single event, the ground is split into five wedges like a pie. Spectators mill around the seating above, able to see all five areas.

On the ground, however, you can only see the wedge you’re standing in and the two neighboring wedges.

Archery is immediately to your left and beyond it you can see the fencing square. To your immediate right sits the hand-to-hand combat arena and you guess jousting is on the other side of the coliseum because you can make out the heads of several horses in that direction.

The fifth wedge you can’t guess at. All you can see in that area is a crowd milling about.

You pass through the archery wedge and make your way to the table in the fencing wedge. You hold out your papers to the man standing behind it. He grabs them from your hand and holds them directly in front of his watery eyes.

He snorts. “Baker. They’ll let anyone in these days.” He tosses the stack of papers onto his table and points to the outline for the fencing square. “Stand in line. Your turn’ll come soon.”

His attitude rubs you wrong but you hold your tongue. People always comment on your family heritage. You’ve found the only way to silence such ridiculous assumptions is to show them you’re capable. No verbal argument seems to work.

You move to stand in line beside a man twice your height. His shoulders are broad enough to shoulder a wagon.

He glances over at you and raises a brow.

“Speed?” he guesses.

PIC00819.JPG

“Perhaps,” you kind of admit. “Power?” you gesture at the broadsword he’s carrying.

A toothy grin splits his face. “Perhaps.”

You grin back as you set the rest of your weaponry against the side of the fencing ring. You won’t be needing the bow and arrows and they might get in your way.

“First contestant,” shouts a man standing at the opposite side of the square. “Obstacle or Multiple?”

“What’s that mean?” asks the huge man.

You shrug. “Guess we’ll see.”

The first man in line shuffles from one foot to the other, then blurts out, “Multiple.”

The announcer gestures him into the ring, then he gestures at the big man beside you, at you and then the woman behind you.

“Multiple contestants it is!” the announcer shouts as you all move into the ring as well.

It’s not a lot of space for four people swinging swords.

“You must overcome two of the three others in the ring,” the announcer explains. “If you step out of the ring, you’re done. If you strike with anything but your sword, you’re done. Good luck, Contestants.”

You get a sinking feeling in your stomach. Before, they’ve always blunted the swords. There’s no attempt at this tournament to do so and the rules stated nothing about not killing. This could turn ugly really fast.

“Work with me?” the big man asks out of the side of his mouth.

You know nothing about him. He could turn on you without warning. On the other hand, someone watching your back could be a huge asset.

Do you…

Bb. Work with Him?

or

Bc. Go It Alone?

The Tournament Option Bb: Work with the Man

Considering your odds, you’d rather have someone on your side in this contest. You nod to the man in agreement.

He smiles and, as you watch, he squares off against the other man in the ring, turning his back to you completely in a show of trust that’s startling.

The woman contestant smirks and moves like she’s going to surprise your partner from the side.sword-1420556

Not on your watch. You move to put yourself between her and the big man.

Then you all wait for the fencing match to begin.

“All right contestants,” the announcer stands on the corner of the fencing ring to be seen above the crowd, “remember, you must overcome two of the other three in the ring. Good luck. And GO!”

The woman’s fast. You duck her first swing and catch her return swing on your sword. The clash of it sends a shock into you hands.

You throw her off with a shove and take a step back to rebalance. The crowd in the stands roars. It’s deafening in the way a trumpet makes your ears ring. You go on the offense and beat the woman back several steps.

There’s a deep-throated scream behind you that sends chills down your spine. It’s your partner’s voice, you’re sure of it, but you don’t chance a look back as the woman tries to use the moment of distraction to her advantage. She swings and steps closer, trying to get within your longer reach.

You fast step and get out of her way, then reverse your motion the instant her swing goes past you. Before she knows it you’re beating her back again.

You’ve no desire to actually harm her but judging from your partner’s scream, a gentle hit won’t end the contest. The announcer said ‘overcome’ two of the three in the ring. So it’s knock her out or force her from the ring.

The fence around the ring sits just above her hips. To force her out will require some extra momentum but the longer you fight her, the more you realize that knocking her out just isn’t going to happen.

She’s extremely careful about her head. So force her out of the ring it is. Your chance comes when she stumbles in an effort to side step. She keeps her sword up, but you push it slightly to the side with your own blade, step in close by taking three quick, almost running steps and throw your shoulder into her sternum. Then you lift with your legs as you keep moving forward.

She huffs as the air is forced from her chest. Then the back of her knees hit the fence and she goes flying over the top rail.

The spectators scream their encouragement of your tactics. You stomach rolls as the woman’s head hits the ground and she’s knocked unconscious.

Only then do you turn to see what’s happening with the other two in the ring.

PIC00819.JPG

Your partner’s right arm drips blood in a steady stream from a slice across his bicep. The wound must have cut deep because he’s struggling to keep his broadsword up as he blocks a strike from the smaller man.

He pushes the smaller man away and attempts a swing but his movement is just too slow and the other man ducks inside his reach for a killing blow. The smaller man isn’t going to pull short. His face scrunches in determination and the muscles along his back and neck tense in total abandonment to his course of action.

You switch your grip on your own sword. You rear back and throw. At any sort of distance the throw wouldn’t be effective but the fencing ring’s small. The sword flies through the air and lands with a heavy thump with its hilt against the smaller man’s temple. He crumples in a boneless heap.

There’s a moment of stunned silence before the crowd above jumps to its feet in ecstatic joy. Your ears ring as you join the big man and check on his bleeding arm. Tearing the sleeve from his shirt, you tie it around the wound.

“This isn’t fencing,” you grumble as you work, “this is butchery.”

“Yeah,” the big man agrees. “Thanks for the save.”

Before you can respond, the announcer steps up onto the corner of the ring and raises his hands for attention.

“Well done!” he shouts. “Now, since you obviously worked together, you can pick between Obstacles or Mastery?” he holds out his hands for your choice. You glance at the big man and he shrugs. Neither one of you have any clue what those options mean. If they’re like the last two, they’ll involve more bloodshed then you’d like.

Do you pick…

Bb1: Obstacles?

or

Bb2: Mastery?

The Tournament Option Bb1: Obstacles

Your partner’s arm has bleed through the bandage as you considered your options. If mastery is a test of his swordsmanship, he won’t do well. You’re not sure what obstacles means but it’ll at least give the man a chance with his wound.

“Obstacles,” you tell the announcer.

“Obstacles it is!” he shouts and waves for several men standing beside the ring to prepare things.

They haul two heavy wooden boxes into the fencing ring and set them in the corner.

Then a man stands on top of the boxes and waits to be told when to open them.

“What do you think is in them?” the big man asks.

You shrug but there’s a skittering coming from inside that makes your skin crawl.

“The goal,” the announcer shouts for all to hear, “is for our two contestants to fence with each other. Three strikes wins. But they must deal with the rats while they fight.”

“Rats?” the big man grumbles.rat-1343687

He sounds exactly as you feel. Rats. Of all things, they had to pick rats.

You help the man to his feet and you each take an opposite corner.

You nod you’re ready and the bout begins.

Although your focus stays on the big man and his heavy sword, you hear the scrape of wood on wood as they release the rats into the ring.

At first you think the tactic unrealistic. What’s to keep the little beasts from simply escaping the ring? But the rodents don’t head for the crowd. Instead, they race around the wooden fence several times and then head in small groups for you and the big man. They’ve been trained for this. Great.

The big man takes two steps and is within range to swing. When you take the strike on your own sword, your hands go numb. It’s then you know you’re in trouble because, although you can’t feel your hands, you can feel the rats trying to climb into your pant legs.

They swarm over his legs as well but he’s got high boots and his pants are tucked snugly into the tops.

You manage to duck around him on the next attack and tap him on the side.

“Strike one!” the announcer shouts.

The big man grunts and comes at you again. You almost drop your sword with his strike.

The longer you fence, the more the rats warm their way up your pant legs. One seems to have made it to your knee and has latched onto the skin at the back of your leg.

You kick in an effort to break him loose but all this does is set you off balance. The big man takes the advantage by taking a note from your own book. As you stumble, he rushes you and shoves one heavy shoulder into your stomach.

Before you can react, he lifts and you sail backwards. Your heels clip the top of the fence but there’s no way to stop your backward motion.

“Sorry,” he says as you land on your backside outside the ring. “Didn’t want to hurt you.”

You can’t blame him. With his heavy sword, which they never blunted, simply striking without bruising or worse is quite difficult.

You nod and shake your leg hard to dislodge the rat still hanging onto your knee. The beast flies from the end of your pant leg and you kick it back into the ring.

***

They line the contestants up in front of a pavilion once the day of contests is finished. You end up behind the big man as the second to win in the fencing matches.

The King steps forward to congratulate him. “What would you have as your prize?” He asks for all to hear.

“My daughter from the query,” the big man responds without pause.

You hold in a smile. Of all people to loose to, you couldn’t have picked a better one.

As he turns from the field, his eyes glisten with unshed tears.

“Thank you,” he whispers as he passes by.

Those who came in second place are handed a small purse of coins.

You pocket yours and head out to pay off a portion of Ruben’s sentence with your prize. Then you head back out to the woods.

A messenger finds you later.

“There’s another tournament to the south,” he explains, “the family would like you to compete again and use the purse to free Ruben.”

Considering how the last tournament went, you tell the messenger the family can make their own contribution to getting Ruben out.

You don’t hear from the family again but years later, Ruben tracks you down.

“Think I’m done with the bakery,” he tells you, “the family made no effort other than contacting you to help me. Maybe I’ll open my own shop.”

He spends the night beside your fire and does indeed open his own shop, a confectionary, in the city.

The End

Yay, you didn’t die and, in a way, you helped a man save his daughter. Well done and thank you to everyone who participated!

Blessings and see you next time,

Jennifer

The Season

I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday season! May this day be blessed with family, friends and hot chocolate=)

After a year of massive change for my husband and myself, we get to spend some precious time with those we love. So off we go to enjoy good conversation and delicious food.

Many blessings to all. May this season be filled to overflowing with the people we hold dear =)

JenniferScan 3

Toad Attack

I’ve received a request from a lovely young lady for a story about fairies. What a great idea! And I thought to make the story more whimsical, or maybe just goofy, than usual. Which brought to mind a snippet of a story a fiend helped me start years ago that I never finished.

So this story is dedicated to two wonderful ladies.

Jael – for such a great story idea! May your own writing and reading always be an adventure.

and

Marjorie – who gave me the image of Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven. Your imagination is delightful.

Now on to the story!

Toad Attack

Moira raced with the shadow of a bird. The red-feathered hawk flew above her, high in the sky with its wings stretched to catch the current of the wind. Flapping her wings as hard as she could, she tried to keep her own shadow inline with the bird’s as it flew across the ground, the trees, the brush.

The larger shadow paced ahead and was gone with a single flap of the hawk’s wings. Moira settled on a juniper bush and slumped. She’d never be fast enough. Her shoulders ached by what most fairies could do without exerting themselves. She’d been born too small to be of much use.

Miniature Moira. It was the term the others teased her with when she couldn’t keep up.

The wind played through the bush, swaying it beneath her feet. Maybe a moment with the wind would cheer her. Rising into the air, Moira hovered in the leaves of an aspen tree, enjoying the play of the wind across her wings and the smell of new leaves in the air. If she moved her wings just enough to flutter with the leaves, she could hold the position for hours. Too bad she couldn’t maintain speed that way.

A squirrel scampered into the field in front of her.

Moira sucked in a breath to call a greeting but then the air whooshed from her without sound. The squirrel clutched a small paper sack in one paw. He boasted two crooked front teeth and two hairs sticking straight up from the top of his reddish head.

When he pulled out the sandwich, Moira’s doubt disappeared. Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven, sworn enemy of anything with wings. He hated fairies for their ability to make non-winged creatures fly since he found it the cruelest choice of nature to make a flying squirrel—without wings.

Beside him on the log settled a toad the size of a rabbit.

“They’ll never see you coming.” The words sprayed from the squirrel’s mouth along with globs of boysenberry jam from his sandwich. He was obviously picking up on a conversation Moira had missed.

She shuddered, then stilled, as the squirrel looked her way.

“How many do you need?” the toad eyed the sandwich for the yellow bees stuffed between the slices of bread.

Moira held in another shudder. Boysenberries and bees on wheat. It was Squirrel Van Hoven’s trademark.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

“Ten or so,” he answered while catching a bee that escaped his bite and stuffing it back in between the bread.

Squirrel Van Hoven had launched an attack against the fairies six months before. He’d allied with mosquitoes then but had been thwarted by netting the fairies made from moss.

The toad was new. She’d never heard of the squirrel working with toads but that wasn’t important, their plan was.

“You’re sure?” the toad croaked.

“Positive. Ten fairies for their wings. You produce that and you can have my stash of bees.” He held out the sandwich as proof.

Ten fairies. It was the perfect number. Mixed with a few other choice ingredients, the wings would make Squirrel Van Hoven float…indefinitely.

The toad’s tongue flicked across his narrow lips and he rumbled a croak deep in his throat.

“Done,” he said. With one bound he was back in the trees and gone from sight.

Squirrel Van Hoven bit into his sandwich and chewed slowly. He caught a blob of jam escaping from the back of the bread. Instead of licking his paw clean, he spit on it, and then he pulled back and pitched the jam at Moira.

The sticky mess splattered the leaves and her wings and weighed her to the ground.

“Spying?” Squirrel Van Hoven chuckled. “Fairies make poor spies. You glitter your dust with every flap of your wings.” His crooked toothed grin was smeared with jam. “Good luck warning your friends. That jam won’t come off for days.” Cackling and dripping jam, he scampered from the clearing.

Moira pulled a wing around to inspect the damage. Her fingers stuck to the gossamer.

“Ich!” She tried to pull free but whatever Squirrel Van Hoven used in his jam glued her fingers to her wings. “No, no, no…” she muttered. She had to warn the fairies of the toad’s attack but without her wings she’d never make it home in time. She’d barely make it in time even if she left right away.

“Spit on it.”

“What?” Moira didn’t see anyone near her.

“Spit on it.”

Her eyes swung to the ground. In a glob of jam dropped from the squirrel’s sandwich was a bee.

“How do you think he eats the stuff without gluing himself to everything?” the bee asked.

“His spit?” Moira recoiled.

“Any spit will work.” The bee worked on his own body, spitting and working it into the jam stuck to his wings. Clearly it was working.

“Yuk,” Moira spit on her fingers. With a bit of work, her hands came clean but the damage to her wings was extensive.

“This’ll take forever,” she moaned, holding one wing carefully by the top edge.

The bee, done with himself, buzzed over.

“It is bad,” he buzzed. “I’ll find help.”

“No! Wait!” But the bee was gone. “Warn the fairies.” She said to the thin air. Her own problem was small compared to the squirrel’s plan.

Moira went back to cleaning her wings, spitting on her palms and working globs of jam out of the gossamer.

Mr. Squirrel Van Hoven certainly knew what he was about. By hitting her wings, he’d not only grounded her but stopped her ability to produce fairy dust.

Without the dust, she couldn’t float home either.

A particularly large spot of jam stuck a section of wing to the top of her shoulder.

Moira had almost worked it free when a hum reached her ears. It grew in volume until it droned, vibrating the air around her. The sky filled with yellow bodies and the bee from earlier landed in front of her.

“Brought a friend or two and half my cousins,” he said, gesturing at bees landing all around him.

“Go warn the fairies!” Moira shooed them away.

“Other half of the cousins have that covered,” the bee waved at the sky where a mass of others still flew.

“Oh,” she felt a tug and turned to find several bees spitting on her wings.

“You’re spitting on me!”

“You’ll smell sweet,” several buzzed back.

Moira couldn’t think of a response. Their legs as they worked felt like the tingles she got when she put her feet to sleep, except there was no pain, just tingle.

“There you go.”

The bees held out her wings and dust glittered in a cloud around them.

Several of them caught by it started to float without moving their wings.

“Oops,” Moira caught them before they floated away.

“The toads are coming!” The cry was faint, shouted by a tiny bee high in the air, but it caught everyone’s attention. “They’ve got boysenberry bombs!”

***

Leaf barriers, hastily woven together, surrounded the fairy trees. The bees brought their honey and were fast making bombs to slow the toad attack down.

“It won’t be enough,” Elder Leah worried.

Moira caught the elder’s hands to keep her from wringing them together.

“Why not?’

“The toads can move with honey all over them. We get hit once and we’re done. Even a shield gets weighed down after a single hit.” The elder did a double take at their hands. Using honey, Moira had helped the floating bees stick themselves to the back of her hands to keep them safe while the fairy dust wore off. “Why?” Elder Leah asked.

“Dust,” Moira shrugged. “Wait, dust.”

“What about it? The toads are too big to float.”

“But the boysenberry bombs aren’t.”

The toads pulled the bombs on carts behind them. They’d positioned the carts ten paces from the trees and were constructing catapults to launch the boysenberry globs. It was the only thing giving the fairies time.

The elder shook her head. “We can’t get to them. Flying over the toads would only make us better targets.”

Moira slumped. Twenty-three fairies would never overwhelm the toads.

“What about below ground?”

They both stared at the bee attached to Moira’s hand. “Below ground?”

“It’s not a great friendship, but we honey bees get along okay with yellow jackets and they build their nests below ground, particularly around you fairies because your dust makes great packing for their nests. There’s a nest in the field there.”

The elder shook her head again and Moira’s stomach clenched in disappointment. She was sure the elder’s reasons were good.

“We can’t fit in a yellow jacket’s nest. We’re too big.”

The bee buzzed a negative. “You’re too big. She’s not.”

“I’m not?” Moira said.

“I can’t ask one fairy to take that big of a risk.” The elder countered.

Moira’s stomach clenched harder. “I can do this,” she said. Why did the elder doubt her?

“I can’t ask you…”

“You didn’t. I volunteer.” Moira backed away before Elder Leah could respond. She didn’t want to hear reasons why she wasn’t capable. “Where’s this nest?”

The bee pointed and Moira slipped between the leaf shields. The spot the bee indicated was a small, slanted hole in the ground.

“I’ll fit?”

“It’ll be tight,” the bee released himself from the honey holding him in place and disappeared into the hole.

Moira chuckled. “It’s good to be small, it’s good to be small.”

Head first she crawled into the ground. With her body blocking the light, her surroundings turned pitch black but her ears picked

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

up on the whisper of words between her bee friend and someone else. As she continued forward, those words became clear.

“You want what?”

“Ju-just a quick passing through,” the bee stammered. “Just to where the toads stopped the cart.”

“That’s through the nest. Why should we trust you?”

“We’ve helped you in the past,” Moira spoke up. The ground pressed on all sides and her breath came in short gasps. She wasn’t sure how long she could stand this. “And the squirrel adds you to his sandwiches too.”

The last part she added as an afterthought but she knew it was true. Any bug with wings went into Squirrel Van Hoven’s sandwich but especially yellow bugs. She wasn’t sure why.

“This is an attack from Van Hoven?”

Moira nodded, hoping the yellow jacket could see her and she didn’t have to speak.

“That’s all we need to know,” the yellow jacket’s voice lowered to that angry buzz they always got right before they attacked.

Moira stiffened and jerked within the hole’s confines when the yellow jacket touched her outstretched hand but he didn’t sting her.

“Follow me,” he said.

Without light, Moira could only tell they entered the center of the nest by the change in texture around her. It went from hard packed dirt to something softer, like paper.

“Move carefully.”

She tried but the space was so small she could barely pull herself forward.

“This isn’t working,” the yellow jacket stopped in front of her. “Don’t move a muscle.”

Moira stilled. Movement was all around her and she didn’t want to anger the yellow jackets. A sting to a fairy was poison enough to kill. Stings from dozens of yellow jackets—Moira held in a shudder. Perhaps Elder Leah had a good reason to warn her away from this.

“Hold very still,” the yellow jacket said again. Something touched her arms, her legs, her torso and her wings. Then she was moving forward, being passed from one yellow jacket to the next through the center of their nest.

Moira closed her eyes and held her breath.

“Cool,” the honeybee whispered from somewhere ahead.

“Now you can move on your own. Just follow this tunnel till you reach the surface.”

“Thank you,” Moira whispered. She received dozens of buzzes in return.

Moving forward, she found the tunnel tighter than the other side. It felt like she couldn’t draw breath but there was sunlight up ahead. She was so close.

“Pull on my arm,” she told the honeybee.

His small legs grasped her hand and he pulled. She barely moved.

“Again.”

He heaved backwards and she slid closer to the light. A third pull brought her hand within touching distance of the opening. Threading her fingers into the grass above, Moira hauled herself free.

A deep breath filler her with relief.

The yellow jackets had steered her right. The hole brought her up underneath one of the carts.

“I can’t get to all the carts,” she realized.

“Don’t have to,” the bee whispered back. “Just float these ones and my cousin’ll take care of the rest.”

Moira was about to ask him what he meant when a brown toad turned their way. His catapult looked finished.

Scrambling from beneath the cart, Moira spread her wings and flew in circles over the boysenberry bombs. She’d never tried to produce the dust before but simply flapping her wings seemed to work.

The toad laughed deep in his throat. “They’re too big for you to carry,” he said as he approached the cart.

Moira kept moving but there wasn’t enough dust yet to float the bombs.

“Distract him,” she begged the bee. If the toad caught her, she’d never succeed.

The bee zipped away to fly in the toad’s face. He flew by once, twice, and then the toad swatted him from the air.

“No!” Moira resisted the urge to race to his aid. The boysenberry bombs were starting to lift. Rushing around them two more times, they floated into the air.

But the toad was close. He reached for a floating blob of jam just as a yellow blur zipped forward and shoved it into his face. It exploded all over the toad’s eyes and mouth.

“Ha!” the yellow jacket taunted. “Try to catch me now!” and he zipped away back into his hole.

The other bombs were well above Moira’s head by now. Several honeybees lumbered toward them, much slower than the yellow jacket but undaunted as they surrounded the floating bombs and directed them in the air. Hovering the bombs over the remaining carts, the bees shoved them downward to explode, sticking the cart and the bombs together.

Moira couldn’t help a laugh before she turned to find her friend who’d been swatted into the grass.

She found him a moment later, dazed and humming about the ‘Toad Attack” as he buzzed one wing and not the other.

“Is it broken?” She rushed to help him.

“Nope,” he buzzed, “just ruffled from being hit.” Closer inspection reassured her but she still stuck him to her hand again to take him to the healer. The bee didn’t seem right in the head.

“You did it,” the bee pointed around in a dizzy fashion.

Moira nodded. Without the bombs, the toads were leaving. They couldn’t break through the leaf shields or bring the fairies to the ground where they could be captured.

“Hero of the fairies!” the bee sang at the top of his lungs.

Moira chuckled. It was a good thing the bee had a small voice or his words would have been heard by the Elder Leah who was winging toward them. Even still, the words boosted her like dust and the wind. It felt good to accomplish something.

The End

Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,

Jennifer

The Dog Bite

I don’t usually reblog posts. However, when I read this post from Beth Teliho, a woman who has been amazingly positive and supportive since I started blogging, it made my heart ache.

I know many women who need to hear this message and can’t think of a more transparent way to say it.

Thanks to Beth for sharing.

Quick heads up, this post does talk about abuse and miscarriage.

Laura A. Lord

*Trigger Warning: Domestic abuse and miscarriage

I was twenty, in college, working two jobs, and living at home.

He was eighteen, rebellious, on probation, and my mother hated him. In other words, irresistible.

We dated in secret. When my mom found out, she kicked me out of the house in an act of tough love. Unfortunately, this only increased our resolve.

I moved in with him and lost myself in the process.

I quit my jobs, school, my family, friends….everything, but him.

He was uncaring. Manipulative. Controlling. And despite intense jealousy, he cheated constantly.

But I loved him, and protected him with tsunami intensity.

tsunamiI had zero backbone and even less confidence. Raging insecurity took over any shred of logic, feeding the belief that I didn’t deserve to be treated better.

Not long after our two year anniversary, we moved into a tiny garage apartment in seedy East Dallas. The…

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Where’d all the Time Go?

Do you reach the end of the day wondering where your time went? Why you didn’t accomplish what you’d hoped?

Happens to me a lot. I’ve heard the advice to write down what you do with your day to see where all your time goes. Honestly, I’m scared to find out. It would reveal a lot of wasted time. Things always seem to happen beyond my control. Life’s always a bit crazy. But as I think these thoughts I’ve got to be brutally straightforward with myself. I let things distract me. I allow the outside distractions to push and pull until I’m weak and tired and confused about where my good intentions went.

Time: It’s pretty clear. There’s never less of it or more of it but somehow there’s never enough of it to get things done. But that’s a lie that lets us off the hook for letting things control us. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh but that’s the way I see it. There is enough time for the things we value. We either control our time or the world will do it for us.

Mindset: This is huge! I can’t stress this one enough. If your mindset starts off “I can’t,” “I don’t have enough,” or “It’s beyond me” than you’re right. You’ve already failed. I do this to myself all the time and lo-and-behold, at the end of the day, I didn’t, time ran out, or I lacked the ability.

We’re taught to be busy, busy, busy because there’s always more to do. Hogwash. In a world that’s quickly becoming bussier, half of the ‘more to do’ is pointless. It doesn’t add value to our lives, so why are we doing these things. Such as checking facebook ten times a day. Cut that in half even and there’s a good hour of time. Plus, you won’t miss a thing. Facebook doesn’t change that fast.

Solution:

-Intention:  We’re not taught this anymore but it’s the key I’m figuring out as I write and it’s as big as mindset. I must know what I want before I’m able to actually accomplish anything. Otherwise, I’m thrown willy nilly across noon and into the evening without a guiding source to direct my actions. I must be intentional about my day. I encourage you to be as well.

And while we’re being intentional, we need to be reasonable. Let’s not set ourselves up for failure. For instance, if I need to run a friend to the airport in the morning, perhaps I need to let go the desire, for that day, to write 1,000 words before noon. It just won’t happen and I’ll depress myself expecting it will.

Mindset again=) Especially in the United States, I’m not sure about elsewhere, we’re told a lot to ‘relax’ at the end of the day. Sounds good right? Except our ‘relaxing’ has become mindless as well. We watch tv until way too late or zone into a video game or stare at facebook. We tell ourselves this is the way to relax and wind down before sleeping. This is our mindset.

But what’s more satisfying? Watching tv or writing those 1,000 words you’ve been trying to get to all day? Playing a video game or taking a walk because you’ve been wanting more exercise? I’ll argue, you may not agree, that it’s easier to sleep when we’re satisfied. And winding down is whatever we tell ourselves it is. I repeat because I think it’s important. Winding down, relaxing, taking time for oneself, is whatever we tell ourselves that means. Writing, if it’s your passion, can be time for yourself. The key is to tell yourself it is and believe it.

-PrioritizeIf you’re anything like me, you’re overly ambitious about how much you can get done. I’m horrible about thinking I can do everything in a day. I can write, clean, walk the dogs, see a friend for lunch, sand and finish a few chairs for the dinning table… All of these things (or whatever’s on your list) are good things. But if I intend to do them all in the same day, I’m going to fail. So once I’ve figured out what I want to get done, I need to sit back and decide what comes first.

Schedule it! I’ve read recently, perhaps from Michael Hyatt or Jeff Goins, I’m not sure which, that if it ends up on the schedule, it’s far more likely to happen. This is true. We’re creatures who like structure. I’d go so far as to say it depresses, frustrates, or angers us when we don’t have it. Don’t know when you work next because the schedule’s not out. Frustration blossoms because you can’t plan anything else. You get the point.

So here’s the solution I’ve found works for me when it never seems there’s enough time.

1. Figure out what you want so you can be intentional with your time.

2. Pay attention to your mindset because if you’re thinking you can’t before you start, you’re right. Also pay attention to how you view things. If walking’s thought of as a chore even though you want exercise, than it’s going to be a chore and you’ll hate it. Instead, try viewing it as your chill time. Time to think, slow down, or maybe spend time with a friend who also enjoys walking. The mind’s amazing in the way it shapes the way we view our world.

3. Decide what comes first. What’s our priority in the things we want to be intentional about?

4. Schedule it. Don’t just think, “Okay, I’ll do this thing today. I’ve got all day to do it.” It’s a trap. All day disappears in a wash of laundry. But if you’ve scheduled your task than the other, distracting things are what get shrugged aside instead of your priority.

Mission, if you choose to accept, write down for a day what you spend your time on. I’ll do the same and come back later to tell how it went. It might be a bit scary=( Feel free to comment on what you find helps keep you on track.

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. Monday starts a new Adventure story. Hope to see you then=)

That Monster Under the Bed, Publishing And How Amy Dale Wrangled the Beast

(Got to admit, this one's a bit creepy.) Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

(Got to admit, this one’s a bit creepy.) Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

Remember as a kid when your imagination got the better of you at night? When you just knew there was something under the bed and if you peeked an arm or leg out, that monster would get you?

But if you got brave and hung your head over the side of the bed to look underneath…nothing.

The elusive, sneaky…

This is publishing. At least for me. Maybe I’m not alone.

No matter how many times someone explains the whole process to me, traditional publishing is that sneaky monster. It’s a huge beast that you should be able to hit with a blind shot but any author can tell you horror stories of sending out proposals and missing by way of rejections and silence.

It’s like waiting with your leg out from under the sheets for the monster to bite. And yet it never does even though you just know the monster’s there.

It’s a lesson in patience in a society that loves instant gratification.

So what other possibilities are there other than waiting out the monster?

Self publishing? Enter the bed monster’s brother—that creature in the closet.

One thing’s better about it, you can stare at the closet door without leaving the comfort of your bed. But if you want to assuage your fears, you have to invest more. I.E. Leave the warm bed, expose yourself to the dark room and go open that door.

I’m talking about investment. Self publishing not only requires up front funds for help with editing and printing but also demands time. Insane amounts of time to design the book and market, market, market.

So what else is there?

What if there’s another way?

Perhaps there is if you’re willing to put in the time for marketing anyway.

In many ways, I’d call this pure genius. It’s like turning on the light in your bedroom and exposing both the bed monster and his brother.

I came across this because of Amy Dale with her book Off With Her Heart.

It’s called kickstarter.

You see, Amy’s running her book through kickstarter, which takes the writing straight to the readers, eliminating the whole agent and publisher process like self publishing but also allowing readers to weigh in by investing in the project.

If you believe in Amy’s book, you invest and get the book, printed through Amazon’s Print on Demand Service. If you don’t, than no investment.

But then Amy doesn’t sink thousands of dollars into a book that might not sell and doesn’t have to be privately rich to print the book if it is popular. Her readers speak for her. All she really has to do is get the word out. Tell mom, dad, brothers, sisters, friends, pets. You know, anyone who will tell others because they love what you do. If readers like the project enough, lo and behold, their support speaks to publishers. It’s marketing research with a guarantee.

Now the light’s on, the closet monster’s in a choke hold and the bed monster’s been caged.

You can sleep tight.

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. This is my shout out for Amy and her bit of genius. Check out her kickstarter or her blog.

Her book, Off With Her Heart, is the Queen of Heart’s side of the story. Check out the book trailer on the kickstarter.

Disclaimer: I have backed Amy Dale’s book and received an e-version.