books, fantasy, Uncategorized, writing

Join my mailing list for never-before-published short stories and more!

I’ve decided to start my monthly newsletter in earnest … just as soon as I figure out the proper format for it! Writers newsletters in general can be rather boring, so I’m trying to make mine brief and interesting. I’ll be including a very short story in each of them – 200 words or less. Readers are welcome to submit prompts for the following newsletter’s story.

Intrigued? Well, of course you are!

Join up here. I pledge to only use it for occasional contacts and to keep you email confidential. Think Fort Knox, here.

If you join via my listing on InstaFreebie you will also receive a free book of fantasy short stories by yours truly and co-author Janet Loftis.

Cover reveal, fantasy, literature, Uncategorized, writing

Kindle Scout for Epic Fantasy?

I’m trying something for my latest book, an epic fantasy novel. Please nominate it over on the Kindle Scout website (it uses your Amazon login info) which may result in it being published through this imprint. The first pages are listed here as well so you can see what you’re getting into. Apparently, you can get free copies of books when you nominate ones that are published, even. Pretty good deal. So, clicky click please!

PROJECT_COVER_IMAGE_1._SX800_

Uncategorized, writing

Greener — no, Whiter Pastures

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Last week found me freaking the heck out over a hellacious car repair bill and other personal drama and I was a bit of a basket case. I didn’t even answer comments to my post – my apologies! This week has been much better, though. I’m a freelance writer of various educational projects but I’ve been getting burned out on that front lately. I’ve done a few children’s nonfiction books work for hire (my name wasn’t on them) and I so enjoyed them that I’ve really been wanting to do more – and Tuesday I was offered that chance for a new client. YAY! And this book will actually have my name on it! Amazing!! I’m jazzed.

Source
Source

Wednesday is the day I join K. L. Schwengel‘s band of merry writers in doling out a date-related snippet of my work in progress. Today I have 18 paragraphs from my story Whiter Pastures. Don’t worry – they’re mostly short. Florance is struggling with a load of coal when …

She had gone no more than a dozen yards when suddenly the weight in her right hand vanished.

“Let me help you with that, miss,” said a warm, strong male voice.

“Oh!” Florance squeaked in surprise. “Why thank you, sir.”

A flash of white teeth and a cheerful grin. Lively brown eyes met hers.

“My pleasure, you can be sure.”

She glanced at him as they walked. Younger than her, most probably. A foot taller at least. Thick dark hair neatly combed back around a zigzagging side part. And a face that she found utterly, completely, transformatively gorgeous in all ways. She tried to control her burgeoning excitement. He must have arrived on this morning’s ship. She would certainly have recognized him otherwise.

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Source

On the steps of the administration building he paused, looking out at the post as people scurried about hatless and in shirtsleeves. At 35° she was practically sweating herself.

He looked vaguely troubled. “I was sure it would be different here.”

“In what way, sir?”

His eyes flickered to hers, and he gave a rueful smile. “Greener.”

She didn’t understand for a moment. Out here, green was for tinned vegetables and putrefying wounds, nothing else. Then she realized what he meant.

“Glory be, not another one! No one told you that you are headed to Mason’s Point and not Mason’s Mill?”

He shook his head mournfully.

“And that Mason’s Point lay in Antarctica?”

“Australia… Antarctica. They sound a bit alike.”

No, love, she thought. They really don’t.

“If it’s any consolation, you’re not the first to have made that same mistake.”

“I’m afraid I need a bit more than consolation right now,” he said, looking rather crestfallen about the whole situation.

That’s it for this week. Join in if you like:

Cover reveal, Uncategorized

Cover Reveal! Island of Glass by Ruth Nestvold

 

 

Ruth Nestvold’s YA Fantasy Novella is available for pre-order now – just $.99! It will debut on 10/28/2014.

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything  — and everyone  — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

 Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.

Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy. 

Now available for pre-order for an introductory price of only 99c!

Excerpt 1:

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”

Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.

“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”

She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.

He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”

She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”

He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”

Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.

He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.

Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Excerpt 2:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief: a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice and beyond.

The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. Their craftsmanship was the basis of their riches — and their curse. Out of fear that they might reveal trade secrets, the laws of La Serenissima decreed that members of the glassmaking families of Murano were never to leave the islands of their lagoon. Murano glass was more precious than gold, after all. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one’s fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

Author bio:

Ruth Nestvold’s short stories have appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov’s, F&SF, Baen’s Universe, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella “Looking Through Lace” won the “Premio Italia” award for best international work. Her novel Yseult appeared in German translation as Flamme und Harfe with Random House Germany and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. It is now available as an ebook in the original English.

Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:

Blog: https://ruthnestvold.wordpress.com

Web site: http://www.ruthnestvold.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ruth.Nestvold.Author

Twitter:  @Ruth_Nestvold

Uncategorized, writing

Whip It – WIPpet Good … and a Request!

I always want to belt out Devo on Wednesdays, for some reason. Before I get into the work in progress snippet (WIPpet), I have a request to make. I’m trying to get a couple of my short story collections free on Amazon (US, UK, CA, etc.). In order for Amazon to do that, I need different people to report that there’s a lower price on the collections elsewhere. So what you would do is visit the link associated with your country:

The Ruling Elite and Other Stories

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NBLUWA8

http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00NBLUWA8

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NBLUWA8

http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00NBLUWA8

and scroll down to the PRODUCT DETAILS section. If you are logged in, you should see an option that says, “tell us about a lower price.” Click it and fill out the short form. You will need a link for the free copy, which is here: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/ruling-elite-other-stories/id909160062?mt=11 or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ruling-elite-and-other-stories-xina-marie-uhl/1120171102?ean=2940046102932

I also have a need for the same to be done for this collection (US is already done):

A Fairy Tail and Out of the Bag

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fairy-Tail-Out-Bag-ebook/dp/B00KF4KWJK/

http://www.amazon.ca/Fairy-Tail-Out-Bag-ebook/dp/B00KF4KWJK/

http://www.amazon.com.au/Fairy-Tail-Out-Bag-ebook/dp/B00KF4KWJK/

It is FREE over here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-fairy-tail-and-out-of-the-bag-xina-marie-uhl/1119478347?ean=2940045937207 and https://itunes.apple.com/ie/book/a-fairy-tail-and-out-of-the-bag/id878181819?mt=11

Hugs, kisses, and big, giant THANKS for helping me out!

Now, to my WIPpet. It is a short 10 sentences (for the 10th day of September) of The King’s Champion. Young Lance is training to be a member of the prince’s guard.

One morning, Uffen, who had the annoying habit of bursting into cheerful song at the crack of dawn, bounded up while I lay on my cot rubbing sleep out of my eyes.

            “We’re having a war!”

            Fear squeezed my stomach. I sat straight up. “The king has declared it?”

            “No, you dolt. A practice war. Many of the city guards will join us.”

            “Not to mention the prince,” Shar commented. He was standing in front of the open door, scratching his crotch.

Come join the fun, started by K.L. Schwengel, by clicking below to read more excerpts from works in progress, or if you’re feeling REALLY daring, post your own:

humor, Uncategorized, writing

Action on the Training Field

Who’s having a good week? I am, and I hope that you are, too! I’ve been making my way through Rayne Hall’s Twitter for Writers and really enjoying myself as I dip my toes back into those fast-moving social media waters. I actually have a strategy this time around which is good because Twitter is all too easy to spend hours and hours on each day.

Today I am posting from my YA epic fantasy novel The King’s Champion. Here, bumbling young Lance, newly arrived in the city from the countryside, tries out his grandfather’s sword. In true WIPpet (work in progress snippet) fashion I have added up a bunch of numbers related to the date to figure out how many paragraphs to post: 9+3 (month and day) +1 + 4 (last two digits of the year) = 17. Don’t worry, though, most of the paragraphs are not very long at all.

As always, I am embarrassingly grateful for constructive criticism and comments.

The sounds of sword fighting wakened me early the next morning. Staggering upright, I dressed, splashed water on my face, and went outside the barrack, yawning.

Carter and the others from yesterday stood on the training field in front of the barrack, fighting each other in groups of two. Carter shouted a suggestion here, an encouragement there, in a loud voice. He glanced over and saw me.

“Boy!” he boomed. “Do you want to try out that half-wrecked twig of a sword I saw you with yesterday?”

“Yes, sir!” I cried, my heart leaping in anticipation.

I ran inside, threw on my boots, and grabbed my sword. Outside, Carter broke up the duo fighting nearest him.

“Kenton, go a round with young Lance, here,” he told one a squat, dark-skinned man nearby.

Kenton looked at me and grinned, revealing a broken front tooth filed to a point like a spike.

I took up a stance in front of Kenton. He scarcely gave me a moment to center myself before he rushed at me, howling. I let out a surprised cry as he launched a stroke designed to chop off my head. Survival instincts flaring, I ducked and elbowed him in the gut. Skittering backwards, I let fly with a wild chop that sliced clean through a hank of Kenton’s thick dark hair. The men standing around us fell abruptly silent.

Kenton froze, then put a hand to his hair in dull surprise. He turned to me with a snarl of rage.

“I will chop you up into little pieces for that, boy.”

A wild exhilaration filled me. “Try and I’ll trim your whole head!”

Kenton gave another roar and unleashed a vicious round of blows at me. I fended them off with limited success, catching a jab in the ribs, a slap on the arm and a ringing swipe to the head. I managed to get in a good swat to his right side, unbalancing him. Backing up quickly, I found myself near the barrack wall. Shaddai! I took a few steps forward, trying to reposition myself.

Kenton snorted like a mad bull and pawed the earth. Lowering his head, he ran at me, powerful legs pumping his body forward with tremendous speed. I believe he intended to hit me in the stomach and knock the wind out of me. That might have worked if I hadn’t twisted aside at the last instant. Kenton hit the barrack wall head on. He sprawled on the ground, semi-conscious.

The others surrounded me, laughing and patting me on the back. Carter came up also, grinning.

“Good job, lad.”

I looked worriedly at Kenton’s inert figure. “Is he–?”

“Oh, don’t worry about him. Marl, Uffen, haul Kenton over to the doctor. He’ll be all right. He’s strange about his hair, that’s all.”

Come join the fun, started by K.L. Schwengel, by clicking below to read more excerpts from works in progress, or if you’re feeling REALLY daring, post your own:

Uncategorized, writing

Let’s Try This Again … WIPpet!

Today is Wednesday all ready! Man, the weeks go flying by these days. I spent the last week productively, however. After pondering on the comments everyone made on the beginning of my epic fantasy novel last week, I decided to rewrite it. It just lacked energy and humor and it didn’t really grab the reader. I hope you’ll all let me know what you think of this beginning instead. The connection with the date is that (mumble mumble, flails around for something) I’m posting it today, on a WIPpet day!  *grins and cringes*

Chapter 1

Take it from me. Adventuring all by yourself sounds better than it really is.

First, there’s the hunger. Just how many rutabagas and strips of dried pork can you carry? Not more than a week’s worth. Hunting and gathering may yield a straggly bunny or two and a few handfuls of cranberries shriveled and dried on the bush … nowhere near enough.

Next, there’s the confusion. I lost the trail several times despite the map father had scratched out on a deer hide back in my village.

I hardly need to mention the general discomfort of sore feet, attacking chiggers, rancid waterholes, and disturbingly close howls of wild beasts as I tried to sleep.

Last night, thunderstorms got added to the list. Specifically, crashing, freezing, hide-in-a-cave and shiver-all-night thunderstorms that leave slippery, splashing, stinking mud puddles everywhere.

Immediately after sighting the three riders heading toward me, I tripped and skidded into one of these very puddles. I leapt to my feet, not even taking time to curse over the soaking.

“Ho there, young sir!” boomed a big, dark-faced fellow a few pounds too heavy for the comfort of his horse. His teeth gleamed in the noonday sun. “Taking a bath, are you?”

“Err … ho there!” I called, grinning like an idiot and waving so energetically that water sprayed in ten foot arcs from my sodden shirt.

How I longed for companions on my lonely journey! Or, failing that, at least a shared meal.

The only other person I’d met on the road so far was an aging prostitute riding a sway-backed mule. She tried to trade for some of my rutabagas with her body. I couldn’t have run away any faster even if my hair was on fire.

All at once, I remembered the traditional greeting. “Welcome in Shaddai’s peace.” 

The riders each wore scraggly, faded leathers. Their unshaven faces and dirty, weary-looking mounts told me that they had been traveling for a while. Not that I looked much more respectable, with mud dripping off my tangled hair.

They formed a semi-circle around me. The one who had hailed me lost his smile. “Shaddai’s peace? A pox on it!”

Alarm squeezed me low in the gut…

Come join the fun, started by K.L. Schwengel by clicking below:

Also, who’s on twitter? Please leave your username in the comments and I’ll follow you.

 

 

Uncategorized, writing

WIPping up a Frenzy

Hello my friends! Today is a WIPpet day (work-in-progress snippet, to those who are new to this word). It is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel, and needs to have something to do with today’s date (8/13…8+13 = 21). Therefore, today I’m posting 21 sentences from the beginning of a fantasy novel that I’m currently revising/fretting about/screeching incoherently due to and I would REALLY appreciate your reaction to it since this selection is from the very first page. Mainly, I’m wondering if it’s something that entices you to read more or not and what questions it brings to mind.

I had just picked myself out of the mud puddle I’d stumbled into when I spotted the riders. Freezing in place, I strained to make out who they were, wondering if I should conceal myself until I got a better look at them. Under normal affairs, I’m not quite so wary. But since I had left my village and traveled alone across the wide, wild expanse of country between home and the thriving capital city of Lor, I had learned the benefit of suspicion.

The riders consisted of three men on horseback, traveling from the west across a wide, empty meadow toward me. Hiding, I decided, would profit nothing. They must have seen me already. I stood revealed at the base of a gentle hill, for once bare of thorn bushes, gnarled trees, and annoying rocks–everything but mud. If all went well I might have found companions on my lonely journey; or perhaps at least a shared meal.

As the three neared, I saw that they wore scraggly, faded leathers. Their unshaven faces and dirty, weary-looking mounts told me that they had been traveling for a while. I didn’t look all that respectable myself, with mud-covered boots and breeches and a tattered shirt.

A rusty, deep voice called out, “Ho there, young sir!”

“Ho there!” I replied, and then gave the traditional greeting, “Well met in Shaddai’s peace.”

The riders formed a semi-circle around me. The one who had hailed me, a big, dark-faced fellow a few pounds too heavy for the comfort of his horse, said, “Shaddai’s peace? A pox on it!”

I observed them. The man on the speaker’s right had orange-red hair and an explosion of freckles covering his face and arms. The third man was swarthy; likely a desert dweller, the first I had seen.

“Look, it’s one of them cowardly farmers from the Golden Hills,” Red-hair sneered. “Out picking flowers for your mother, whelp?”

Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:

 

Also, my WordPress account seems to have gotten disconnected from my twitter page (which was down for a while due to a hacking I experienced but is now up again at @xuwriter) and it doesn’t seem to want to be reconnected even when I refresh it. Has anyone else dealt with this?