[Story] Virtue of Silence

One of the ways that I like to flesh out my characters is to write little short stories about portions of their lives. There isn’t much plot to this as I’m using it as a way to get a feel for Solus and how I want to treat him for one of my novels: “The Iron Queen”.

The screams of excitement and joy ricocheted through the cobblestone streets which ran between picturesque stucco homes. Each yard was unique in decoration and opulence while maintaining a formality almost subdued in nature. 

Solus Haestus’ head jerked up from The Tennants of Temperance as four boys shot passed the low, iron rote gate. One of them slowed and stuck his head over the entrance. 

“Solus. You’re reading at a time like this?” 

The twelve year old boy felt a bit ashamed for a moment about the heavy volume on his lap but he gave a resigned shrug towards his schoolyard friend. 

“Father wants me to finish this.”

The gate creaked open and there was a moment of panic that made him swallow rapidly. His father was in the other part of the house preparing his sermon for the town center the next day. 

“Tenants of Temperance? You planning on becoming a Priest to the Virtue of Temperance?”

There was a bit of wry sarcasm in his voice but it did not matter. Solus nodded his head.

“Since Apet chose to become a soldier against Father’s wishes, I’m the last chance that one of his children to follow in his footsteps. I mean, the book is interesting.”

The last part of his words rang hollow in his mouth but he was resigned to the fact he was destined to be a priest. The Enclave of Temperance wasn’t a bad place and his father seemed to enjoy the work, spreading the tenets of caution and moderation to the working class of the capital. 

“So you don’t want to come play red horse with the others? Faith will be there. Her dad let her come play with us.”

There was a slight bit of hopefulness in his friend’s voice and an attempt at bribery with dangling his school crush in front of him. 

“I’ve got to finish this. Father wants me to finish a small piece on moderation in the conduct of business for tomorrow.”

The freckled kid gave an exaggerated sigh and threw up his hands. “Fine. I’ll see you at school.”

Skipping out of the yard and leading the gaggle of kids that had returned to find him, Solus felt even more lonely in the now silent yard. Even the bird who was keeping him company had flown away at the intrusion. 

“I’m proud of you son.”

The voice to his right caused him to start and almost drop the treasure book to the dusty walkway. 

Solus’ father, a tall, willowy man with graying black hair smiled down on him. He had been standing in the doorway masked by the slats that allowed the breeze through. 

He sat down by his son and put his arm around his shoulder. “I’m proud of you for remembering your responsibilities. Most children would have took off at the moment their friends came.”

“But I wanted to. I don’t feel very proud about it.”

“Giving into temptation to abandon your responsibilities goes against the core of moderation.”

“Yes, sir.”

Silence reigned for a moment and Karus Haestus took the book from his son. He patted him on the back. 

“You’ve earned a reward. Go play. You can finish the piece after dinner.”

Throwing his arms around his father in a big hug, Solus released him and took off after his friends.

-end-

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My Writing Shipwreck

The shipwreck

2020 is a miserable year and I had planned to get back in to writing, 2020 decided to sneak up on all of us and give us a good swift kick in the nuts. But…I’m alive, I’m healthy, and that is not something that I take lightly or for granted.

I thought as my first introductory post back to the Internet since February, I should just talk about what I have been going through and see if putting this on paper can help me make sense of what I have done and what I plan to do. Even as I am writing this blog entry, my brain does not want to cooperate and it wants me to just leave it alone for now.

I have been Off the Rails for a Long Time

Suffice to say, I disappeared from the writing world, lost the ability to write anything but fanfiction once in awhile and found myself drifting from one hobby to another like an aimless balloon tethered to nothing.

Looking back, I think it happened near the end of 2018 when the Freelance market dried up thanks to a bunch of changes by companies that I used for sources and a shift in the content to areas that required extensive knowledge I did not have. I had launched a freelance business in March of 2018 and it has been on the rocks since. Looking at it with a critical eye, I think I was pushing myself very hard and then when what I had built ground upon the rocks, I fell apart. Instead of trying to save it, I just hopped off and walked away.

The farther that I seemed to walk away, the harder it was to turn around and come back. I have been walking for two years and now that I have turned around, that ship called my writing is so far away.

I Promised myself not to Give up but then I did.

Looking back with the support of my lovely princess, I realized that I left my muse and my dream on that boat abandoned and alone. I had promised to myself that I would not give up but then I went and did exactly that.

The path is littered with unfinished stories. The Star Traveler Series since empty with no fourth book like it was promised two and a half years ago. The Jassik Creed Series has all the finished artwork for Books #3 and #4 and they sit unwritten.

The only creative thing that I have been doing is a Scifi Epic comic “Beloved Chains” (If you follow the link, please note that its a comic with adult themes and has some nudity) that I wrote the storyline for and working with an artist to do the art. To be honest though, I wrote the first eight of 16 chapters two years ago and we’re only half way through Chapter 2. So, I can’t claim that I have been doing anything really creative on that project either.

There was a lot of wreckage to pick up and honestly, in April of this year, I felt like it was too much and just wanted to stop and give up completely.

It was the Ghosts of the Greats that got me back

The only reason that I have returned is that I stumbled on to James Bell Scott’s How to Write Pulp Fiction that made me start carrying about writing again. The excerpts from the greats like Ray Bradbury and Raymond Chandler made me realize that I needed to push forward and write and that’s what I plan to do.

Reading what they had to say, realizing what type of story I truly loved writing, and which ones I grew up loving really focused me and got me to write this post.

So, I’m back. I’ve trudged my way back to my crashed ship of writing, taken quite a bit of chewing out from my muse, and ready to shove off and make 2020 the year that I return to writing!

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Cold is here. I found a New Exercise to help!

The last few blogs have been about exercise, and that is going to continue. Mostly because at my work, we’ve begun our version of the Biggest Loser and there are paid time off we can earn if we can lose a percentage. That inspired me to write another post about the subject since it has become a part of my life.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not an exercise guru. I find myself staring at the equipment or contemplating how to convince myself not to run. It’s still a struggle for finding the time and the energy to do it with all the other essential things in my life. That is why I’ve decided to try and see some easy exercises that I can do in my house.

Going back to a YouTube channel that has shown me some pretty good moves in the past. I found the following video that is simple, quiet (cause I’m the first one up and don’t want to wake up the kids) and comfortable to do.

One of the things I like about this one is that it does not take up a lot of room to do and it does work the upper body. It looks simple, but I found that after a while, my arms would get heavy which would add to the challenge of doing it.

I like to meld this one in with my old military routine of push-ups, sit-ups and mountain climbers that work the lower body. It’s cold at present, so I have not tried doing this before or after running just yet.

Why don’t you take a look at this and some of the other exercises on the site? I know I found a bunch that was helpful to my situation and I know for me, it’s always good to keep up the workouts.

Why I have Been Gone

In June of 2018, I suffered a mental collapse brought on me by stress and an undiagnosed mental health condition. It had caught me by surprise that I had gone from going along to massive mood swings, mild paranoia, and hyper-alertness. By August, my beautiful wife convinced me to go to the VA and speak with a mental health professional, and it turns out that I had Bipolar disorder. Since June, my life has completely changed.

What Happened

In 2010, I served eight months in Afghanistan and to put it mildly; it was packed full of stress, anxiety, and sheer terror at times. Since getting married and having children, I have always struggled with my temper.

June was a turning point for both good and bad. I had come home from work and collapsed in my chair and suffered a fit of sheer fury for no reason which slammed into a high manic state which scared me. Susanna, my sweet, long-suffering wife, talked me through it and told me with no uncertainty that I needed to speak with someone and recommended the Veterans Affairs. She thought it was the best choice as the visit would be free (due to me having a combat badge from the war) and they would be more understanding of the things that I experienced.

My doctor found that I was Bipolar and that what I thought was part of the PTSD was something entirely different and that I had to change a lot of my life around to consider this. That was why I disappeared; I needed to figure out how my online presence was going to be now that I know what’s going on and have the support to get through it.

Why Am I Saying All Of This?

Mental illness has been shoved in the corner far too long which has allowed horrible people to treat those with mental illness as second class citizens that should be locked away and forgotten. Because of people spending so many years refusing to talk about mental health, it has been regulated to the world of mystery, and when someone mentions it, others get uncomfortable.

I’m not going to do that. It’s a part of my life I now understand as best as I can, and it’s something I will talk to people about if they want to listen. If it makes someone else with a mental illness comfortable and to know that I can relate as much as feasible, then I feel that I have done something right.

If anyone watched my Twitter feed, they would have seen the gift I got for my wife as a thank you which turned out to be so much more. Susanna and I have liked the Teen Titans show, and I found that my favorite voice actor who voice Susanna’s favorite character Raven (this would be the wonderful Tara Strong). I discovered that Ms. Strong had a profile on Cameo and requested her to do a positive message from Raven.

What we got not only helped cheer my wife up but made me realize that other people understood. Ms. Strong could have done something basic, but the recording felt like she took the time to figure out what Raven would have really said.

So, besides making me realize that I’m not alone in supporting those with mental illness (and making sure I’m an ardent Tara follower), I knew that it was essential to speak out and that’s what I’m going to do.

What is the future?


I’m coming back. There are a lot of projects that have sat on the shelf for half a year, and it’s time for me to get them done. I have a few more novellas, adventures, and even a program coming out soon. There is also the new Star Traveler #4 book in the work!

Thank you for listening and make sure to look to those with illnesses and let them know they are safe and supported.

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Found Another Great Fitness Video!

If there is one thing for sure, it has been a while since I posted anything. Life has continued to be a bear to the point it has inflicted damage on my participation in NaNoWriMo and all my other projects. So why am I writing? I’m writing because I need to and I wanted to share with you. That’s what a blog is for.

Health and exercise have been a major focus of mine because it is one of the few things that is keeping my stress in check and keeping me from losing it. Not only that, I’ve now got a desk job, so the old days of burning of them calories while working in a warehouse are long gone.

I think it was a post ago about an exercise website that I learned about and found another great exercise regimen that I am hoping will take care of the weight that I have gained from sitting at a computer and staring at it. It’s called “7 Day Weight Loss Challenge, Lose 10 pound in 1 Week”

Here’s the video:

The best part about it is that it can be done from one point in the house without having to go out in the cold and run (it’s getting closer to winter here and running in the cold is not fun).

It reminds me of a lot of the exercises that I did in the military when we alternated our running day. Getting a hold of this video brought back a lot of nostalgia and saved me from having to dig through my records and finding the steps. The nice thing is that I won’t have to do squats in the middle of the pouring rain!

Go ahead and give it a try, I found it very challenging and you can always add it to your regimen you already have something else you do. Do you have a specific exercise that works well for you? Why not tell me in the comments below!

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The Writer’s Struggle to Stay in Shape

It has been a little bit since I posted that I was going hiatus, but that didn’t mean I was not going to keep writing. Having opened up as much free time as I have has led me to think a lot about the things that I could do to help with the stress with family life and also with just trying to keep work/life balance from collapsing.

When I was in the military, one of the things that I used to do is run when I was stressed as it allowed me a simple challenge and it really battled the anxiety and stress that came with my job. Nowadays, I don’t have as much time to run and decided that having a desk job was not going to make me any healthier. It was one thing when I worked in a warehouse but those days are gone. I’m at a desk, and I like it.

So, I decided it was time to start looking into exercise health options that would be great and wanted to share with you one that came to my attention that, after trying for a few days, has been helping me out a lot.

I know a lot of us authors and millennials have to deal with a lot more stress than we once did and I thought an excellent regimen that I could do at the house before or after work that wouldn’t take away from my family was the thing.

One thing that grabbed my attention was a seven-day regimen that focused on losing body fat that I have happily put on consuming soda and fried foods. I’m not blind, I know that my eating is one of the areas I plan to work on next. The exercise set that I found was the 7 Day Challenge To Lose Belly Fat created by Roberta’s Gym. I’m not a fitness expert nor anyone with training, but I found the exercise to be very robust and challenging. I actually tried it for four days before I got distracted by life and could not keep it up.

I do not know if you’re looking for a new in-home exercise, but I thought maybe anyone who is reading my blog might be willing to try it. Sitting at a desk both professional and personally can take a toll and finding something that can fit in my schedule is a godsend.

What do you think? Do you have an exercise you want to recommend? Do you want to keep up on all the little things I write? You can also do that by joining my newsletter. Promise, no spam!

For easy viewing, I also embedded the video for you to see:

I’m going on Hiatus for Awhile

Jennifer Tracy ready for the hiatusI never wanted it to happen, but there is nothing I could do about it. I am going on hiatus. For the last two years, my life has become more and more stressful with family health issues, my own personal and professional responsibilities and the inevitable appearance of burn out. Writing has become extremely difficult, and even this blog post has drained what little creativity I have.

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The Lilac Princess & The Blood King (2017)

The Lilac Princess and the Blood King: By Karine Green (The World of Shestafa)The Lilac Princess and the Blood King: By Karine Green by Karine Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Received this book for an honest review from Book Tasters. When I first got a copy of the Lilac Princess and the Blood King, I was not quite sure what I was expecting. The title had a very fantasy feel to it but the cover hinted at something science fiction. Upon delving in, I found the book quite enjoyable and interesting.

Without giving too much away, the story turned out to be an entertaining book about dragons and their relationship with humans in a direction that I have never seen before. It brought a blend of humor while showing that the world that Karen Greene has created is filled with more possibility that this book contains.

For dragon lovers and those who enjoy fantasy, I would recommend this book heartily!

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Gary the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories (2011): A Review

Gary the Four Eyed FairyGary the Four Eyed Fairy by Frank Mundo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Frank Mundo’s Four-Eyed Fairy Anthology collection from Booktasters for an honest review and I am happy to say that I was impressed with the story structure and unique ideas that he presented.

Each one of the twelve stories was carefully crafted and presented in a colorful way. My favorite was the “A Strong Independent Woman”. It was a great read and would recommend it to anyone else who would like fantasy!

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