It’s been so long…three years to be exact!

Hi, my name is Stacy and I’m a indie author.

“Hi, Stacy” the crickets chirp.

Sometimes the call to be creative, to write, feels like that. Something to apologize for. Something to be embarrassed about, like my fondness for country music. But I’m tired of shrinking to hide it. Foolish or not, good or not, it’s something I want to continue doing. And I’ve been moving in that direction. But its been real slow going.

I had a breakthrough this week though. I actually participated in a friendly flash fiction competition. Siobhan Muir’s #ThursThreads has been going on forever. I’m so glad she’s still doing it, eight years later. She posts a prompt every Thursday morning and crowns a “winner” on Friday. It’s fun, the folks are friendly, the practice is good for the soul.

To check it out or submit your own words, here’s her blog. (Also check out her blog if you’re guilty pleasures include steamy shifter romances; you won’t be sorry there either.)

So the story behind why I totally dropped off the end of the earth doesn’t include me being a flat-earther with a poor sense of direction, but rather I lost my regular job. You know, the one that paid the rent. It happened in January 2017, and to make a long story short, I hadn’t been able to replace it – until now. Three years later.

When things like that happen, you get in survival mode. You do things you need and put off things that feel like fluff, feel like pleasure… at least until things get settled, you tell yourself. Just wait until the money comes in. You know the drill. So social media and writing and my stories all got pushed down beneath the weight of the adulting I felt I was failing at.

I missed so much in that time. I was too stressed to write; too poor to even think about trying to self publish anything; and to insecure to really want to push the works that I did have out. But now that stability is on the horizon (no thanks to Covid BTW), I want to start writing again: The novels and the flash.

I’ve attempted both, but if you thought getting back in shape after three years off was hard, starting to write again, or more accurately finishing what I’d already started, was harder. The brain is still sluggish, depression waits in unexpected corners, and the pattern of perpetual stress turns out to cling to you as much as a daily donut habit.

Then, just this week, I happened to click on a FB mention and there was Siobhan’s prompt. The rules were exactly what they were all that time ago. From the moment, I whispered “Maybe I’ll try” to myself, the story insisted that it had to be written, I literally couldn’t stop myself.

So, albeit rusty from my long hiatus and still struggling to get a regular writing habit started again, I wrote 250 words from a scenario that popped into my head. It could have been better, more polished, but I wrote it literally at work and only had an hour and a half of divided attention to spare. Still, I’m pretty happy with it. Here’s my entry for this week’s #ThursThreads. May it be the start of a long tradition.

Tears blurred my vision as I stared at the two men kneeling in the dirt, hands bound, dark heads bowed. These were men I’d grown up with, men I loved. Especially Davyd. The guards hadn’t treated them well, but I had expected as much. My own arms sported unwarranted bruises.

“Milady,” King Navandahr crooned, descending the steps of his litter slowly, majestically. Silvered silks whispered, curling around his brown limbs like sinuous, sensuous snakes. He oozed confidence. As well he might. My people were defeated. I was here to surrender.

His bare chest gleamed darkly beneath the shifting silks. My heart clenched. He’d undoubtedly claim me for his own and this conqueror, not Davyd would share my bed.

You are a queen, I chided myself and forced my eyes to meet Navandahr’s devil-pale, kohl-lined gaze.

He gestured to the men. ”Blood demands blood, but I will let you decide which.” His smile was cruel as I gasped, looking back at the kneeling men, my heart breaking.

Choose?

I couldn’t.

Davyd didn’t move, his eyes glassy and dull. But Garen’s head snapped up. “Choose me,” he demanded.

Ah Garen, so brave, so selfless. I knew I would do as he asked. I loved Garen, but I loved Davyd more.

We both did.

“You don’t have to do this, “ I lied.

“Don’t I?” he said, all the love he felt for Davyd shining in his face. But, it was a love Davyd didn’t share. “Just…make it quick.”

@Sbennettwrites
word count: 246
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Review of Frankenstein

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had never read this classic before. Of course, I’ve seen adaptations of it on film and in general lore. Those accounts give far more interest to the “science” of it (which Shelley completely glosses over). Frequently pointed to as a treatise against “playing God”, I’m not sure I wholly agree with that take on it. So I won’t talk on that matter, my review focuses more on the characters themselves.

Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein is far from indifferent, quite the opposite in fact. He seems subject to great drama at the smallest of things. I have to admit that his “excess of sentiment” grew tedious at times. Especially since, if he’d had any forethought at all, none of this would have happened to him. How many days passed between him creating this “creature” and him discovering what had become of it? I suppose this is the beginning of the classic horror story cliche of a naive protagonist releasing something alien into the everyday world – much like Dustin and Dart in Stranger Things. Dustin was also eager to distinguish himself with his discovery, naively believing Dart was harmless, just like Frankenstein. However when he discovered the opposite, Dustin set out to right his error. Frankenstein shirked such duty in a frenzy of what can only be called cowardice as viewed from this age of totally bad-ass protagonists.

Frankenstein instead is instantly horrified by his creation (based solely upon its appearance, mind you) and, even while supposing it to be malign in nature, he quits the scene and leaves it to its own devices! For days! If he really thought this creature was a demon from the start, why did he not try to stop it right then and there?

I’m not sure what Shelley intended to stir in the reader with this story but I felt less horror at this monster than I did at the worst of the GOT villains. Really, the creature was a threat only to Frankenstein with whom it had a (I think legitimate) grudge and Frankenstein’s family. Worse, I feel not one iota of compassion for the poor downtrodden Victor whose fits of hysteria frequently incapacitated him. The monster, however, is a very sympathetic being, one whose anger and rage and misdeeds are completely understandable even by today’s standards.

On the whole, I did enjoy it. Her language is so reminiscent of Jane Austin’s that it felt very period to me. It was well thought out and interesting. I do recommend it.

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Review of Embers at Galdrilene

Embers at Galdrilene (Dragon's Call #1)Embers at Galdrilene by A.D. Trosper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Embers at Galdrilene reaches out and grabs you from the very beginning. Set in a world where dragons and magic are real, A.D. Trosper gives us a post apocalyptic tale of a very different kind. Weaving together the lives of eight very different individuals, she immerses us in a world on the cusp of change. Hundreds of years earlier the Dragon Riders were all but wiped out. Now they have returned and they have a very difficult task before them. (One which is not completed within the scope of this book but books 2 and 3 are already out for those who are impatient about sequels).

The best part for me was the characters and their relationships with their dragons. Trosper manages to give each one their own personality and voice, and you feel as though you know them by the end. You root for them. For those who enjoy a good sword fight, Embers at Galdrilene has plenty of that too, as well as friendship, loyalty and love. Her descriptions of the magical effects were vivid and I especially liked the air magic. If you love fantasy or love dragons, this book is a must read. For myself, I’m excited to read the sequels.

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Love at the End of the World

My first attempt at dieselpunk, an alternate WW II entry written years ago for the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop.  Hope you enjoy.  

Love at the End of the World

The operation was ‘go’ and I’d already silenced the five lucky Jerries in the control tower.  I’m a real lady sometimes, giving them a clean death in the face of what was coming. The hangar was full of planes, silent and dark except for the eerie glow emanating from the nose of the biggest Messerschmitt ever made, the Amerika Bomber.  I wondered if it was my team on board, or the Fremdblut.  I shivered. I’d rather dance with Gestapo than meet one of the Others.  Drawing my Steyr from its thigh-holster, I climbed in the half-open bomb bay door.  Amerika was empty, except for a voice. 

“Ilday jayso. Ayeshi ahdeeltahi nanijih.”  Navajo by the sound of it.  I lowered my piece and walked up behind the man in the borrowed blood-stained flightsuit working the radio.

“Nanijih, netah,” it sputtered back.

He clicked it off. “Fuckin’ banzai, my ass.”  

“You seem to be missing a few folk.”  My voice split the silence like a bomb blast. I was equally shell-shocked as he whirled to face me, a Mauser in each hand aimed at my heart.  The heart he’d already broken once.  Cagney himself had nothing on Maj. Jack Richards.

“Emily?”  Disbelief washed across his face. I felt like Scrooge when Marley’d come a-haunting. Continue reading

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Books, Vertigo and Tea reviews Dreamwalker

It is so heartening to have someone like your creative work. Again, the audiobook of Dreamwalker manages to pull some heart strings. Thank you, Danielle, for your glowing review. I am hard at work on the sequel, trying to ensure it meets or exceeds the first one. 

Quest of the Dreamwalker (Corthan Legacy Book 1) By Stacy Bennett Narrated by Zachary Johnson Publisher: Miramae Press Format: Audible Audio Unabridged: 14 hrs and 48 mins Genre: Fantasy Synopsis: A perfect captive, Cara didn’t know her will had been stolen until she escapes with borrowed courage. Cloistered in the Black Keep with only her father for […]

via Quest of the Dreamwalker (Corthan Legacy Book 1) by Stacy Bennett — Books, Vertigo and Tea

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Ruthie and the Darkening Prince

This began as a very short flash fiction piece inspired by a story from my good friend Ruth Long in The Fairy Ring Flash Fiction Contest.  I was wading through some old files the other day, took this out, expanded it a bit and thought I’d share it with you. A bit of a blast from the past but updated.

The image is one I could not find an attribution for but it is part of the basis for this story so I’ve included it. If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know. Hope you enjoy…


Ruthie and the Darkening Prince

The Darkening bordered the western edge of the Glade that stood between our world and the other. The gloom hadn’t crept in over time or spread through the trees like some dark malady. It simply appeared one summer day, turning the brightly magical woods to a dimmed and dusky version of itself, the edge of it an invisible line through the woods.

As Guardian of the Glade, it was Ruthie’s duty to discover the cause. For nearly a fortnight she sought high and low but could find no culprit for the strange perversion. That is, until a warrior in barbed armor met her at the border. Silently, he walked in the shadowed half of the wood, mirroring her steps like some dark-natured counterpart.

Impatient, she stopped and turned to glare at him. He stopped in the same breath, turning to observe her with cool disdain from beneath his demon-shaped helm. He was tall and imposing, but she did not fear him for she held the power of the Glade.

“Are you responsible for this?” she asked, gesturing along the line dividing her green bounty from his murky landscape.

The warrior eyed her for a moment more.

“I am,” he said finally. His voice was silken and cultured and laced with a leashed power that sent chills down her spine.

She was about to demand more of an explanation, when he lifted a hand to remove the helm. Alabaster hair cascaded like silk over his sinister epaulets. His tawny inhuman eyes ensnared her, freezing her heart mid-beat.

In that stark proud face, she recognized a boy she had once known. A boy she had loved dearly when she’d been but a child. Before she’d become a Guardian. Before he’d inherited the power of his Fae father.

“My Prince,” she breathed, nodding in deference. She would once have had to kneel, but the Guardian of the Glade bowed to no one. Not even the Fae King.

“Guardian,” he said, tilting his head slightly in return. Then, he said, “I remember you.”

“Have we met?” she asked, taking a step toward him as tendrils of chill mist from the darkened wood crossed the line to swirl about her ankles like a cold caress.

A flock of pixie attendants rushed to her, drawn by the threat of his power. They circled her in a cloud of fervent cacophony, their fear obvious in the earthward cant of their diaphanous wings.

“Yes,” he said. “You stole something from me.”

Ruthie nearly took a step back, shocked that he would accuse her so.  “I have taken nothing of yours, my Prince.”

“Ah, but you have,” he said, taking a step toward her. “You stole … a kiss.” A conspiratorial smile creased his cheek, warming his features and peeling back the years to one afternoon beneath the shade of a willow’s cloak. An afternoon she remembered only now.

Her sharp intake of breath confirmed the truth as a long-denied memory burst upon her mind. The press of his lips to hers like summer wine in the cool shade.

The boy prince had been raised in her village. His fair hair and her auburn locks had bounced through the sunshine as they ran in and out of the dappled shadows of the Glade. They had been close as children, too close, taking liberties with each other that were against the Law.

Had he come now to punish her?

“My lord…” she began.

“No, do not fear,” he said gently. “I seek only a small recompense.” He leaned toward her without emerging into sunlight although his face was mere inches from hers. His voice and the unexpected tenderness in his eyes beguiled her and she leaned in to meet him.

“And what penance is it you seek?” she asked, her heart stirred with a heady emotion she was reluctant to name.

“I would like my kiss back again,” he whispered, his eyes on her lips.

His dark yet noble heart beckoned to her, as it always had. The child she had been longed for the innocent rebellion of those bygone days, but they weren’t children anymore. He was a Prince and she a Guardian. What had been only frowned upon long ago would now be a grievous sin. Still, she wavered, tempted to grant him this one small trespass.

Sensing her weakness, the pixies admonished her in a whirlwind of fluttering, their wings like so many butterflies on her cheeks. But she shooed them away angrily. She didn’t need their council. She knew quite well what hung in the balance.

She had taken an oath as Guardian. Her loyalty was to the Glade, and the Glade alone. Her heart and the Glade’s were one and the same. As the neutral border between the Fae and human realms, she could not give that heart to one side or the other. As Guardian, she must refuse him even the smallest of favors, for to grant one would be to endanger the peace that was the Glade’s reason for being.

“What say you?” he prompted into her silence as he lifted a long finger to trace the line of her jaw.

“You know I cannot,” she whispered, her voice full of a longing she had meant to suppress.

His golden eyes roved over her face and came to rest on her lips. “Then, my dear lady, the Darkening will remain until justice is served.”

He stood back from her, letting the cool mist rise between them. It sent chills up her arms as she watched him bow and turn on his heel to stride off into the gloomy woods.

She knew him well enough to know he would find a way to get his kiss in the end. And she wanted him to. But, she had a few tasks she required in return. Her lips curled with mischief. It would be an interesting summer.


 

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Review of Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True Belonging is something we all aspire to and yet something we pursue in all the wrong ways. Fitting in is not the same as belonging, as Ms. Brown discovers in her research. Spurred on by a Maya Angelou quote (“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”), Brene brings her considerable research skill and dedication to the question of what does it mean to belong.

This book resonated with me on so many levels and I had quite a few A-ha! moments reading it. I love psychological books that touch on the real problems we face as individuals and as a culture. As usual, Brene Brown treads these delicate issues with fierce courage and vulnerability and tells it like it is. I’m sure this is a book I will go back to more than once to re-read and digest and course-correct myself in my dealings with others. A great read for anyone who has felt left out by the world at large. Inspiring, hopeful and vulnerable.. just like we all should be. Thank you, Brene.

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Review of Tears of War


Tears of War by A.D. Trosper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Galdrilene’s Dragonriders are back and so are the Shadow Riders. The conflict heats up in this second book of the Dragon’s Call series by A.D. Trosper. The scope of the story blossoms from just the first eight riders to a brewing world war, as the riders must go to back to their homes to convince the nations that not all dragons are black and magic does not cause insanity. Game of Thrones in its scope, Tears of War shows us more about the world the riders must deal with and the kind of enemies they have. I cringe at the power of the Shadow Riders and found myself seriously worried for a few of my favorite characters. With a name like Tears of War, you know bad things are going to happen and if your eyes are dry at the end, you must have skipped a few chapters. A great read, and I eagerly look forward to the next one in the series.

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