A Quick Review of 2016

In some senses, 2016 has been a slow moving year but in retrospect it’s been a year of healing, not just for me but also for my family. My spinal surgery was back in May of 2015 and by September I’d recovered well enough to join a burlesque class!!

2016 saw certain goals fall by the way side due to circumstances we had no control over. Our joint goal was to start hiking together. We have two beautiful German Sheppard Dogs who love nothing more than taking off in the car and getting muddied up or wet!! (Don’t you just hate the smell of wet dog in the car?). We took ourselves to Ladybower Reservoir and fell in love with being outdoors! We talked about coming back to that location and watching as winter turned into spring and summer!!

In April our daughter’s birthday turned into a disaster when my husband was knocked down by a car and broke his leg. He was very lucky as he bulls-eyed the windshield and was thrown over the car, other than a broken bone in his hand and cuts and bruises he was fine, just the six weeks off work and gaining the strength back in his leg.  I should add that he has made a full recovery from the ordeal.

The decision to change the date of my next book release had already happened by this point and now we knew it was the right thing to do. It was nowhere near ready! Finding out my eldest daughter (who is my editor, if you hadn’t already figured that one out) has fibromyalgia was hard! We sought second opinions and doubted the outcome, we didn’t want to believe at first.  Yet knowing the reason for some of her health problems helped us understand her much more. To make matters worse my daughter has mental health illnesses that she has struggled with for many years, this mixed with the fibro gives her a lot of down time. As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to see how it effects her life. She is such a talented woman! Which brings me to one of the highlights for this year, Debi Michelle’s Debut novella – Debi’s Naughty Nibbles – Rachel & Danny book one.

Another highlight was getting to meet friends from Israel. I’ve known this lady online for some years now. She is a fellow Indie author and editor for Nicky Charles. We have become good friends over the year and I cant wait to see her again! We spent a lovely, cold, day at Chatsworth house and enjoyed every minute of it. That evening Jan and her lovely hubby took Andy and I out for a meal. The food was great but the company was amazing. Andy and Jan hit it off and now he’s always asking about her. I’d love to save up and go see them in Jerusalem.

One of my daughters moved closer to home this year. She finally figured out that her boyfriend was an abusive idiot!! I now get to see her whenever I like as she lives about a ten minute walk away from us. It’s great seeing our grandson too. Watching the difference in him now he’s away from that relationship has been a joy. He’s a thriving 4 year old boy who is interested in everything he sees and loves Paw Patrol!

Things haven’t been too good for our other middle daughter, her youngest (our second to youngest grandchild) has been diagnosed with Global Delay. He is 3 years old but has the development level of an 18 month old. It’s been a stressful time for my daughter and us as we are learning to live with the problems this is causing. He is non verbal so we are learning Makaton sign language.  We have had, what some may see as, small developments – I entered her living room and he was sat on the floor and as clear as day said ‘Hello Nanna’ I could have cried at hearing his sweet little voice. There is light at the end of the tunnel but the journey there will be a long one.

So there’s a quick glance of 2016. I don’t make new years resolutions, however, I do make goals. I have a few set up already, a lot of them are to do with organising my time better and trying new juggling techniques  between work, home and writing.   I can gladly say the hiking goal is back on for 2017 and we are looking forward to our first hike within the next week!!

So on that note. Happy New Year to you all and may 2017 bring good health to you all.

My Editor and I! An update on Dark Magic Rising.

We finally have a release date for Dark Magic Rising, which we will share with you very soon. My editor and I have been working very hard and now feel we can work to a deadline.

Dark Magic Rising’s original release date was back in November last year (2015). After undergoing surgery on my spine in May of that year, my editor and I decided to push the date back but never gave ourselves a new goal. This year my editor was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which gave a reason to some of the health issues she couldn’t overcome. Things started to make sense, however, her health has not improved and due to fatigue and brain fog the editing was at times very slow.

Working alongside someone with fibromyalgia  has taught me patience and a little understanding into living with a chronic illness. I could have taken the work elsewhere for a quicker result. But it’s never been about the speed and is more about the relationship I have with my editor. She not only puts me right when I forget about punctuation or get the words to a sentence muddled up and so on, she injects something into my work that wasn’t there before. We are a team that works well, even if I nag her a little when she is having a low week.

We are planning on hosting a cover reveal within the next few weeks and have decided to put the book up for pre-order from the cover reveal event. This was a huge decision for us and in some sense is a little daunting. We aim to put our best foot forward and simply do the best we can because this is about supporting someone and not just looking them over because they don’t fit in with your time table.

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☆‿➹⁀☆COMING MARCH 2017
*Dark Magic Rising*, the first book in The Sisterhood Trilogy. ☆‿➹⁀☆

Follow Lynwen and her colleagues as they try to unfold the mystery of the one who allegedly, will reunite the divided nations. They discover the fallen god who plans to wreak havoc on their world. Lynwen fast realises that magic is no match for this new foe and the reunifying of their people will have to wait. Romance flourishes amid a battle for their lives as the beast created by the fallen god tear their newly formed trust apart and send them hurtling into a trap. Will this new found unity be enough to save them all?

☆‿➹⁀☆In the mean time, enjoy the introduction to the series with a FREE E-copy of Bodelia’s Anguish!
It’s a short story containing a little over 4,000 words. It also contains a teaser for Dark Magic Rising. ☆‿➹⁀☆

Download from:-
Smashwords: http://tinyurl.com/hm7hbds
B&N: http://tinyurl.com/hytrcqr
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/hd4aydh

☆Connect with SD Stevens☆
Facebook Profile – http://tinyurl.com/qfoc9bt

Facebook Page – http://tinyurl.com/ho2o6oa

Time for a Cover

Recently I have been listening to a band called Shindown. I love the lyrics to their songs. After listening to song where the words are more fun than anything else, it’s good to hear lyrics that have meaning and speak to me on some level. Shinedown do that. However, you know me, I love a good cover. This one is by Shinedown’s lead singer and guitarist. The song is one of my favourites from Bon Jovi. Here is is. Hope you like it.

 

Celebrating Nicky Charles

Nicky Charles is my favourite independent author and I am lucky enough to call her my friend. After reading her second novella, The Keeping, some years ago I started to follow her on Facebook (then went back and read her first book in the Law of the Lycans series, The Mating).   She would often interact with her fans and appeared friendly and approachable. As she wrote more and her popularity grew a fan page on Facebook gave her readers another way of interacting with her.  She always joins in the discussions and the fun stuff that Law of the Lycans page organise.  I was invited onto Nicky’s street team about a year ago and enjoy letting others know about her books.

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Nicky has been very busy lately reediting her books and preparing them for paperback and hardbacks. The Law of the Lycans series books have new covers and look amazing in physical print…. I know because I’m lucky enough to have the full set of paperbacks of ALL her books, gifted to my by Nicky and Jan Gordon (Co-writer to In The Cards and Nicky’s editor).

To celebrate the release of the physical books Law of the Lycans page are throwing a party!! There will be a chance to win a signed copy of Nicky’s books. All you have to do is come along to the event and join in.  So click HERE to join in and meet Nicky Charles, Jan Gordon, the lovely ladies that run the Law of the Lycans page and Nicky’s Lusty Lycans (Street team).

Here are the buy links.

PAPERBACKS:

TM link:
https://www.createspace.com/4718119
TK link:
https://www.createspace.com/6170696
TF link:
https://www.createspace.com/6170714
Bonded link:
https://www.createspace.com/6170723
Days of the Rogue link:
https://www.createspace.com/6159001
Road to Redemption link:
https://www.createspace.com/4714295
For the Good of All link:
https://www.createspace.com/5457616
Forever In Time:
https://www.createspace.com/4668842
In The Cards:
https://www.createspace.com/6018772

HARDCOVERS:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/NickyCharlesHB
B&N: http://tinyurl.com/nickycharle

Here’s a little note from Nicky about buying her books.

If at all possible, please buy paperbacks through Createspace. Here’s why:
Createspace sets the minimum price I can charge based on production costs plus the profit margin they want. Amazon then adds on their profit margin. Other stores, such as B&N, require a discount (between 30-50%) before they will carry the books. In the end, I earn about 3% royalties (e.g., 50 cents) on books purchased from B&N or other stores, 15% on books bought at Amazon and 30% royalties on books from Createspace.

Debi's Naughty Nibbles – Book One – Rachel & Danny

I’ve been busy of late on a few different projects. One of such has been to edit the work of Debi Michelle. Her début novella is due for release soon and will be available on Amazon. We don’t have a date for the release yet but what we do have is a cover reveal date and we are planning a facebook event to celebrate. Here’s the link if your interested.

Cover Reveal for Debi’s Naughty Nibbles – Book One – Rachel & Danny

Danny is Rachel’s best friends brother!! Yep, that one guy you can’t touch but that’s OK because Zoe’s brother is an arrogant, man whore! He’s the typical squaddie who loves the ladies and is not afraid to bring a different one home every night he’s on leave. Still unsure of relationships, Rachel isn’t interested in men at the moment, especially Danny. Until she decides to teach him a lesson. Has she bitten off more than she can chew?

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You can connect with Debi Michelle via her facebook page.
Click here to go to Debi’s facebook page.

Open University- Broadening My Education Part Two

My eight week course has come to an end and I must admit I have learnt a lot. Not just about developing characters and plot but also about me as a writer and where I want to go with it. I am better equipped to analyse my own work and to put things right.

Reading will never be the same again. Though, I must admit it hasn’t been the same since I started writing. I have learnt to find inspiration from almost anything around me, sound, sight, touch, taste and smell. Where imagery is one of my strong points, there is always room for improvement.

I had one final piece to write and share. A character that I have been working on for some time but because of this course I feel she has more depth. A 1,000 word story! I dislike doing short stories…. well that short anyway. I also don’t do first person, which this one is in. The subject of this piece is a huge factor in the characters personality and drive and for me, answers many questions about her behaviour.

Where do I go from here with my education? I’m not sure but I would like to take it further. Having a job doesn’t help but I’m sure I will figure something out. Anyway, here is the piece. I hope you like it.

The Wraith

Since adolescence, I had been angry and envious, I felt my family had failed me. The other sisters in the Order had at least one sword passed down through the generations. Being the first of my family to make it this far in the Order I had no such heirloom and it became the focus of my anger.

“I don’t know what impressed me the most, the princess herself or the sword she carried.” I commented to my good friend, Lynwen, as we sat around the fire in a darkened room reminiscing over the past few years. Taking a sip of the drink I cradled in my hand, I let the burn kick in before swallowing.

“When did you first meet Princess Brigantia?” Lynwen refilled her glass, her hand steady for a woman of advancing years.

“I was sixteen, she was sitting crossed legged under a willow tree in the sanctuary, singing  a childhood ditty and I was drawn towards the sound. I wasn’t supposed to approach but couldn’t help myself.

“Patting the grass at her side, Princess Brigantia asked me to approach. Sitting beside her, I stared in awe at her beautiful face. I’d never seen eyes so blue before, they were alive with light, reflecting a power I could not understand. It was like she held me under a spell.” Leaning back into the chair, I lost myself in memories as I revealed them to Lynwen.

“The next time I saw the princess was much different. Sister Dawn had entrusted me with a message to be delivered directly into the hands of the commander of the royal guard. I was informed she was in the garrison hall, so I headed in that direction.

“The room was full of soldiers in training attire who all stood like statues. I made my way through the crowded room until I could see what kept them enthralled. Princess Brigantia and her brother Prince Adam where sparring. She was dressed in tight, black breeches with a white drawstring vest tucked into the waistband. The royal guard insignia adorned her belt – a triquetra and the sun – a mark of the Leian royal family. Her golden hair lay over her shoulder in one long braid, that brushed the embossed buckle as she moved from one foot to the other.

“The crowd cheered as the siblings readied their stance. That’s when I first saw the princess’s sword, The Challenger. Its gold and steel snake-shaped blade was as distinct as Brigantia’s beauty. She deftly swung the blade, loosening her shoulders. When she prepared to strike the amethyst stone on the pommel came into view. It was the most magnificent blade I had ever set my eyes on and it triggered a knot of jealousy in my gut. Even when that sword was swung in my defence my envy never faltered.”

Shaking my head, I took another sip from my glass. Lynwen, nodded slowly, understanding written on her face. I had no blade of any reputation, only a simple specimen from the Order’s armoury. There was no honour in such a possession and it had eaten away at me for a long time. It made me feel inadequate.

“Now I know why you took all the extra training.” Lynwen’s voice held a touch of disapproval.

“Well, it didn’t rid me of the disgrace.”

“You are known for a great many battles, Sasha and your philosophies on the Order’s mandates are profound.” Lynwen lifted an eyebrow at me. She was right, as young as I was my achievements were impressive.

I leaned forward when Lynwen’s expression changed. Her teasing aside, something sad dwelled within her features. “What is it Lyn?”

“This whole mess with the Order is driving me insane. It’s a job for those much younger than I.”

“What are you saying?” It wasn’t like Lynwen to be downhearted.

“Retirement.”

A few moments passed before I realised what she’d meant. Lynwen had been my mentor, my friend. When Mother punished me, Lynwen was the one I would go to. Now, when I was being prepared to take over the leadership of the Order, my rock was about to crumble. I looked at her lined face and the grey streaking her hair. She did look tired. Guilt washed over me as I admitted my selfishness.

“Don’t give me that look, I’ve been at this far too long. I will always be here, your common sense, on your shoulder.” She laughed and I joined in.

“You’ve talked me out of some very strange and nasty situations.” I chuckled.

Retrieving her scabbard from the floor at her side, Lynwen drew the steel from the black leather. The well-honed blade caught the light from the fire, the diamond-embedded pommel reflected tiny stars on to Lynwen’s face. “I have something for you.” Resting the tip of the blade on her left hand and the pommel in the right, Lynwen offered me her sword.

The gravity of the moment held me in shock. I stared at the offered blade before transferring my gaze to my mentor.

“I never had a child of my own. You’re the closest thing to a daughter I will ever have.” Lynwen whispered.

“I can’t accept such a gift.”

“Why not Sasha? I want you to have Wraith.”

My heart pounded with excitement yet my mind thought of a thousand reasons to talk Lynwen out of retiring. She reached a little closer, imploring me to take the offered gift. “Lyn, I don’t deserve it.”

“I know, I had to put up with your moaning!”

We laughed together, remembering the times I’d complained. With trembling hands,  I took the sword. I knew its weight, the feel of the leather that cushioned the grip and the strength needed to wield such a weapon. “I could never thank you enough.” Pride dissolved the envy that had been my companion since my adolescence. Owing to a friendship forged by blood, tears and loyalty, I felt lighter, honoured and at long last, whole.

 

Open University – Broadening my education

I forgot to say, I started an Open University course four weeks ago. Yes I know it’s taken me a long time to write about it. I have been very busy with work, editing Dark Magic Rising and one thing and another. However, I thought I would share a few thoughts about the course, which is called ‘Start Writing Fiction’. I did wonder how I would cope with no teacher there to crack the whip, so to speak but I’m finding it fun and very enlightening.

It’s good to know that some things I was on track with like keeping a notebook and journal. I have expanded on this and started looking at myself more closely. One of the exercises was to  examine what matters to you, personally. I found this a little difficult as I’ve never really thought about what makes ME tick! It was interesting.

The past weeks have also helped me to develop my characters, especially one of them. I knew what she was doing and feeling but she was very one dimensional. Now, she has purpose and I now know why acts in certain ways and I deeper understand how she will react as her story unfolds (Second book in the Sisterhood Trilogy, it doesn’t have a title yet).

The writing prompts exercises are very fun to do. It teaches you to take something as mundane as what is on your coffee table or the next line the radio presenter says, and turn it into a story line. The key is to…. just start writing. What me to share? Just remember this is not edited and pretty much a first draft so grammar is crap! Oh that bit underlined is the line from the radio, it was a Slade song that was playing at the time. (Thanks Planet Rock!!) Please be aware there is a little bit of swearing in there.

“I said good bye to Jane. Are you happy now?” Reed turned his back on Diane and placed his hands on the window. His shoulders were stiff as if he was holding the weight of their problems alone. It pained her he felt that way. She could see his closed eyes in the glass, reflecting back through the darkness beyond the huge window that made up one side of their family room. Watching him take measured breaths, Diane thought of their life together, their unusual marriage, building their fortune, the twins, now coming to their fourth birthday; juggling their busy lives had once been a way to avoid each other but now, after all these years she had told him the truth.

“I’m sorry…” Diane’s voice broke, the stress of all the lies and constantly been on guard getting the better of her. Chocking back a sob, she wouldn’t show weakness. Not after she demanded he send his lover packing. “I should have told you sooner.” She breathed deeply and tried to still her shaking hands.

“How long?” He turned towards her. One blonde curl that he could never tame, fell on his creased brows. He shoved his hands in his pockets as he tried to control his anger. He didn’t come any closer but kept his usual, respectful distance and pinned her with his stormy blue eyes. “Talk to me Di.” His stern tone demanded her answer.

“If I’m honest with myself, it was on our wedding night.” She gauged his reaction and noted the one raised eyebrow. He nodded to imply her to continue. “I didn’t realise it back then. I was caught up in what was expected of me, ours is a marriage of convenience, two rich, powerful families converging. When our wedding night approached I expected you to, you know?”

His face darkened, “Push myself on to you? Fuck Di, have I ever hurt you?”

She stepped back at his injured tone. “No, but I hardly knew you back then. We had met once. Then our parents kept me that busy with wedding plans,” her voice lifted as she spoke their memories, “it was like they deliberately tired to keep us from even making friends.”

“Or stopping you from running.”

“I couldn’t, could I? All my life my decisions were made for me, forever to be a pawn in someone else’s game. I’m sick of living like that, I’m sick of feeling expendable!”

“Don’t be ridicules.” Reed’s voice took on his usual calm tone. “You have never been expendable to your parents or me.”

Diane struggled to find the words to explain how she felt. “Maybe it was the wrong word.” She hung her head in shame. Reed wasn’t the bad guy here, he had done the same and obeyed his parents wish that he marry her and join their families. The last six years had its good points. Only in public did they have to put on a show. It had all been worth it, she told herself.

“Where do we go from here?” He moved closer and rubbed her arms and shoulders, a comforting gesture she was familiar with. He was willing to give up his lover and make a real go of their relationship. Her heart melted.

“Did you love her?”

“Jane?”

She nodded and looked up into his troubled face. “Nope, I’m fond of her, we were together almost three years but she was a means to an end. I have needs Di, needs that I couldn’t take from you. Why do you think we paid for the IVF treatment?”

When she tried to look away he lifted her chin with his finger, the touch gentle and she revelled in the shiver that shot through her whole body. It fanned the flames of hope growing in her heart.

“I know the treatment was uncomfortable for you but I couldn’t come to your bed under the circumstances. It was the best solution for all.”

Diane laughed. “And we got the twins from our ‘bogoff’ deal.”

Reed joined in her laughter at their private buy one get one free joke. The conception of the twins was their secret.

“If you’re sure of your feelings, maybe the next one would be fun to make?”

She felt her eyes widen, was Reed flirting with her? She had not seen this side of him before and spluttered a response. “I…. I…” He placed a finger on her lips.

“One step at at time, hey?” He looked deep into her eyes and she felt the usual pull. His eyelids where half closed and it seamed to pull her deeper into their depths.. Reed blinked and the moment was lost. He turned back to the window and placed his hands on the glass to brace himself. A quiet control rolled off his shoulders. He sighed and shook his head. Until that moment, hope had welled within her heart. Telling him she loved him had seemed right but now something had changed. He stood trying to fight an emotion she couldn’t place.

“I need to tell you about Jane.”

“It’s OK, I understand why you…” She didn’t want to know. The knowledge of their affair was enough. After all she couldn’t deny him a physical relationship with someone. Their own marriage has never been consummated.

“No, you don’t.” He didn’t look at her but placed his head on the window. His refection was dark and grim. Diane’s heart sank. “Jane is a man, she lives as a woman but…”

Diane sat on the floor, her knees no longer willing to hold her as her mind processed the information. No, not her Reed, he couldn’t be? His sex appeal had women flocking to his side. She quickly sifted through her memories of the men they came into contact with. He had shown a cool indifference. Looking up she caught his reflection looking at her. She couldn’t speak, her throat suddenly tight.

“My parents knew, it was one reason they wanted our marriage.” He lifted his head from the glass but kept his eyes on her through the reflection. “But when you told me you loved me, it changed everything. I do love you Di, in my own way. How could I not, you’re the mother to my children but I…”

Not caring how strong she portrayed herself, Diane let the tears fall, each one taking a little bit of her hope away as it fell.

Whitby Goth Saturday 

  
I love Whitby any day of the year. Today was no different. The weather was great and added to the party atmosphere that was infectious, from our first walk down the Abby steps to waiting for our lift home. Look at all the people on the steps. 

 

Look how busy it was.   
The costumes were fabulous as usual, everyone looked mysteriously, magnificent. 

  
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 All photos are posted with permission from the subject. 

To end we had a spectacular sunset.