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Life has always been so fascinating to me. There are things out there to discover every day. New sights, sounds, and most of all, new feelings. It can be as simple as hearing a bird sing it’s morning song to a smile from a child that you pass on the street. The beauty that the world holds has always captivated me in ways that even I couldn’t understand.
My name is Amber. My mother said that she named me that because my hair is the color of golden straw in the sunlight. However, she still sometimes calls me the nickname she had given me when I was a small girl. Goldilocks. Hearing her call out for me like that had always put a smile on my face.
My mother’s name is as beautiful as she is. Melody. I have always thought that it suited her in a way. It was probably due to the fact that the sound of her voice had always reminded me of the most beautiful songs. The kind without words, but it was still possible to interpret the feelings behind the notes.
She is a small framed woman and for some reason, she looks younger than she is. Her long hair looks just like mine. The length of it fell just around the middle of her back and when the sun hits it, it is absolutely breathtaking.
The blueness of her eyes grabs you and at times I feel like I get lost in them. There are no words on Earth that I could use that would describe them well enough.
I was raised in the most simple of ways. My parents had only expected that I listened to what I was told and that I take their advice. Considering that I have the most loving and understanding parents in the world, it wasn’t hard for me to do what they asked of me.
Ever since I can remember, my father had a certain simplicity to him as well. He was stern when he had to be, but I cannot remember a single time that I have heard him raise his voice in anger at anyone. There have been times when I thought that he should have, but that just isn’t who my father is.
Both my father and mother have such a degree of understanding to them. To be honest, I’m beyond thankful for both of them and the life they have worked so hard to give me.
Our house isn’t a mansion, but it isn’t a shack either. We live in a three bedroom brick house that sits perfectly at the end of a gravel driveway. Fields lay as far as the eye can see to each side of the house. In the back is a bit different. The darkest forest that I have ever seen is only a few minutes stroll from the back yard.
When I was a young child I was never allowed to go near the woods. To be honest, I’m not sure why, but that was the only time that I can remember seeing my parents in a panic. That was a day that I don’t think I will ever get out of my memory.
I had been outside playing in the back. There had been some squirrels that I was watching. The way that they were scattering around had caught my attention. Before I knew what was happening, I had followed them to the edge of the trees. It was dark under the trees. The tops had blocked out the sun in such a way that it almost seemed like night inside the forest.
The first step that I had taken inside the trees was almost a warning sign to my parents. The sound of the back door slinging open was odd. It had been so forceful. Even as a small child it alarmed me.
My mother was calling my name as she was running frantically to me. Not but a few feet behind her was my father. As I watched them racing to me I could see the fear on both of their faces. Being such a small child, I couldn’t understand what the problem was. Was there something wrong with the animals?
As soon as my mother reached me, she scooped me up and moved me from the forest. I was back in the sunlight. Her voice at that moment stays etched inside my memory. There had been such urgency in her warning to me to stay away from the forest. Being a good girl, I listened and promised that I would never go there again. My mother’s tears meant something more than just normal fear that day. I had done something that was worse than I knew, but it wasn’t something that I had understood. All I knew is that I had better listen to what my mother had told me.
Now I am seventeen years old and I still don’t go to that area. The memory frightens me still. Over the years, I had heard my parent speak of bears that lived inside the forest. They had always seemed to be concerned that they would come out in the fields. I wasn’t sure why other than being afraid that they would come up to the house. Bears were animals that are unpredictable at best. There was something about the discussions that bothered me. My parents had always spoke of not one, but a group of three bears. Something about the nature of it struck me in a sinister way. One thing was certain. Something terrible was wrong with those bears.
Spring has finally come. The coldness of the Winter has gone and the warmth of the sun has replaced it. This is my favorite time of year. All the flowers are starting to bloom and the vivid colors are to die for. Nature has always been one of the best things to me. Trees seem to sway and speak to one another as the light breeze passes through their tops.
Looking out my window was a morning ritual. Watching the sun come up gave me a sense of renewal and hope that every day could be the beginning of something great.
I had been talking to a guy for several weeks now. His name is Jayce and he’s seventeen too. There is something about him that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I know that he is a good person. I’ve watched him while he is around his friends. He has a gentle nature to him. The compassion that he shows other people is profound and It draws me closer to him every day. At first we started out as friends. It was an accident that we had met. Jayce is part of the popular crowd. The fact that he is the captain of the football team wasn’t a bad thing. Usually guys like him are mean and inconsiderate, but he isn’t. I like that about him.
We are both seniors now. The first day of school was when we actually met. I was walking down the hall with Hope. She has been my best friend since grade school. Where you see one of us, you see the other. The bell had just rung. As always, I’m trying my best to get to my next class without getting detention. When I rounded the corner, I smacked right into Jayce. My books went flying and I was in the floor looking straight up at him. He had such a curious smile at that moment and I was in love in an instant. When he held his hand down to me I took it without hesitation. After helping me back to my feet, he gathered my books and asked to walk me to my next class. I agreed with a smile and a feeling that I had stumbled on to something that would become something far greater than anything that I could ever imagine.
At the door of my next class he handed me all the books that he had been carrying. With that grin that I seemed to have fallen in love with he asked for my number. I grabbed a pen from my bag and scribbled it gently on the back of his hand, told him I would talk to him later and walked into class.
As I walked to my desk it was like I was walking on a cloud, floating above my reality. Nothing seemed to matter except for the way that he had made me feel at that very moment. It was as if my every emotion had changed and for once I am seeing things in a different light.
I struggled to keep my mind on the lecture my teacher was giving, but all I could think about was Jayce. He had invaded my mind and I fought to control my thoughts. Between Biology and him battling inside my mind for control, I was beginning to think that I was going to go crazy. I had never been this scattered in my life. Is this what love is supposed to feel like? To me it seems to be more like a tsunami inside myself. Finally, the bell ending the school day rang. I don’t think that I have ever been so relieved.
I walked out of class hoping to see Jayce, but he wasn’t there. I’m not sure why that I was thinking that he would be standing outside the door waiting on me. I suppose that was a bit childish of me. We had just met and I’m already dreaming up hopes and expectations that I shouldn’t.
My drive home was longer than usual. I had decided to go by the river on my way home. I had thought that the relaxing sound of the water would calm my thoughts, but this time it didn’t. So much for that great idea. Although, I was enjoying the view.
This had to be my most favorite place to go. The walk down to the water was hard at times. My parents had never been comfortable with the fact that I come here alone. They told me that it was too dangerous, but they understood. The only request that they had made was that I made sure to let them know when I come here and when I’m leaving. I can compromise on that issue with no problem at all. They have a good point. If I were to come here and something happens to me then they would know where to come.
The hill is steep and I have to be careful of my footing. The trail is covered with various rocks that range in size. Some are larger and easier to maneuver around, while others are smaller and make the chance of sliding down the hill more possible. Once that I finally reached the rock wall I jumped over it and made my way to the water’s edge. I only had a short distance to go and then I would be on the large rock that sits right above the pool of water that always seems to draw me to it. When the water is up I can’t make it over there, but thankfully it was still passable.
The rush of the water coming over the dam has the ability to drown out any noise other than the water. It is so powerful that hearing the traffic going over the bridge above me is nearly impossible. As I sat down on the rock, my thoughts seemed to disappear. Nothing was left to confuse, excite, or to worry me at all. It was just me and the peaceful sounds of nature.
Time must have eluded me because my phone chimed alerting me that I had received a text message. When I opened it I smiled. It was my mother asking if I was still ok. Answering her with the most thoughtful of replies, I said yes. The sun had already begun to lower from the resting place in the sky and I knew that I needed to leave now if I was going to be able to make it back to my car before it gets too late to see.
Before I started my journey out I sent my mother a quick text letting her know that I was on my way out. She worries too much so I guess making it a little easier for her would be the most daughterly thing for me to do.
I took my time climbing my way up the gravel hill. All that I needed was to fall and break a leg or even worse than that, I could just fall and die altogether.
At the top I was thankful to see my car sitting there waiting. The hike takes quite a bit out of me even with me being in good physical shape. If it wasn’t for the rewards of the serenity this place gives to me I wouldn’t dare tread down there.
With a smile on my face, peace in my heart, and hope for the future, I started the engine and began on my way home. The closer that I got to my house, the more unsettled that I became. There was no reason at all for me to feel this way. I have the most undeniably wonderful parents that anyone could ask for and my life was as simple and easy as pie. Something was telling me that maybe things just aren’t right. Maybe something was wrong that I didn’t know about.
I walked in the front door. My parents must not have heard me because usually my mother would call out to me from wherever in the house she was at the time. Closing the door quietly behind me I found myself doing something that I had never done before. I was eavesdropping on my parents as they were having what seemed to be a very important conversation.
My mother was telling my father things that I couldn’t understand. She was saying that she had done everything possible to keep me from the woods, but when she is gone they will come.
My question is who will come? Why would she be saying that someone was going to come for me and more than that, why would the woods be such a desperate sounding topic for my mother all of these years? There is something that she was hiding from me, something that she didn’t want me to know about. But, why? I listened as closely as I could to what was being said. Silently I was praying to myself to not get caught listening in.
My father was reassuring her that he would do everything in his power to keep me safe. What scared me the most was my mother said that when she is gone. What does that mean? I found myself crying and I knew in an instant that I had been discovered. When I opened my eyes to be sure that I wasn’t having a nightmare both of my parents were standing in the doorway looking right at me. I expected to see anger in their faces, but that wasn’t the case. All that I could see is desperation in my mother’s eyes and fear in my father’s. I couldn’t even speak. I just stood there and looked at them both almost scared out of my mind. For the first time in my life I was uncertain of what was happening in my world. This was a feeling that I was in no way accustomed to.
My father swallowed hard and asked, “How long have you been standing there?”
With shame in my heart my answer was not only the truth, but it was also full of regret. “Too long.”
The silence between the three of us was the loudest void that I have ever heard. Had I not chose to listen I could have very well avoided this whole situation, but deep inside my heart I knew that I needed to know what they were talking about. Families are not supposed to keep secrets from one another and I wasn’t aware that things were being hidden.
“Amber, I think that we need to talk.” My mother said to me as she motioned for me to follow them into the room and I did. She took a seat beside my father on the sofa and I chose to sit in the recliner across from them. It was the closest to the doorway in case I should feel the need to escape.
My mother had begun to tell me a story. It was one that I could recall hearing as a small child, but this time it was different. There was more of maturity in the tale.
Long ago there had been a young girl that had stumbled into the woods nearby. She had been following her new puppy that she had received from her parents on her seventh birthday. Before she knew it, the trees had overshadowed the sunlight and she had gone too deep into the woods to be able to find her way back. When she finally realized that she was lost she began to cry.
Much to her dismay, the little girl hadn’t known that evil spirits lurked in the woods. They heard her dries and watched as she desperately searched for a reminder of the way home, but she never seen one thing that could help her.
The evil spirits had seemed to see something in the child that could be of use to them, so they used their magic to embody a bear cub. Being clever they had chosen one that was fairly young so that the size wouldn’t frighten the child away. As they drew closer to the child the almost angelic words were heard coming from her tiny lips. It was something that the spirits had never heard before. The girl was praying. She had dropped to her knees in the middle of the darkest of woods and was praying with every ounce of faith in her heart. She was asking for a solution to her problem. Whether that be leading her father to her rescue, or just to keep her safe until dawn so that she could try to find her way back home.
The evil spirits found that they could have contact with the child as the bear, but they soon realized that something was blocking the magic that they wished to use against the child.
I interrupted my mother despite what I had been taught, but I done it out of confusion. “How could such a fairytale be relevant in my life now?” I asked her.
“You must listen to me very carefully, Amber. This story is so much more than just a simple fairytale, my child. It is the story of a curse and you have to give me your word that you will listen to every single word that I tell you. Listen even if you think that it is crazy and could in no way make any sense at all. Will you promise me that?” The desperation in her eyes was something that I had never seen in my mother. There was something more to this and I have to give her my word to listen as closely as I possibly can to what she is going to try to tell me.
I nodded my head in return of her request and decided that if this was that important to her then it should be as equally important to me.
She began right where she left off. Her voice had such a way about it that it didn’t matter what she told you, in your heart you could believe that it was the truth.
The girl caught sight of the animal and her curiosity had taken over. There was no doubt in her mind that it was in fact a small bear cub. She had begun to think that maybe it was lost just like she was. Silently, she sat and watched it as each step closed the distance between them. Not once did she fear being hurt. That was what had left the evil spirits unable to contact her other than by physical contact by the cub.
When the cub got close enough for her to reach, she extended her hand out slowly and with one tiny innocent finger she touched the cold, wet nose of the bear.
Soon she fell asleep while cuddled next to the bear for warmth. The girl felt that she was safe, but that wasn’t the case at all. That first touch had set the evil spirit’s plan into motion.
The next morning the child had awakened, but the bear was gone. She began to wander deeper into the woods during her search for the animal that had helped her through the night. She looked over every hill and behind every tree, but the cub was nowhere to be found. When she came upon a small creek she dropped to her knees to try to get a drink of water. She had walked for so long and was terribly thirsty. With her hands cupped, she drew handfuls of water from the cold stream and to her small lips. On the last sip she heard something stir nearby. In a matter of seconds, she was on the hunt again for her beloved hero.
With every twist and turn that she made through the trees, she found herself with less hope of ever finding her way out of the situation that she is in.
As I listened carefully to what my mother was trying to tell me, I noticed that she was wringing her hands in a nervous way and seeing her this way made me uneasy. There had to be a way for me to escape the rest of this conversation, but I knew that this wasn’t something that I was going to be able to get away with. Unfortunately, I have to sit here and listen to this.
I dropped my head into my hands, but my mother kept telling the story anyway.
The little girl had walked a very long way and had found no sign of her cub, nor had she found anything that would help her find her way out of the woods. Again, she began to cry, but she kept walking. Every tree looked the same and the sky was beginning to darken once again. She had been walking all day and she hadn’t found a way to eat. The only thing that she had was the water from the stream. Her frail body was becoming more weak by the moment from the lack of food. She wished that she had never gone out into the woods alone. If she could find her way out she swore to herself that she would never do it again.
In the distance, she could see the trees opening to a clear space and inside that clearing was a small cottage with a single light on. She was so excited when she seen it that her innocent eyes couldn’t see the real danger that was lurking there.
She ran as fast as she could. It seemed like she had run for miles before she actually made it to the door. Scared of what might happen, she took a single step back from the door. Her father had always told her never to talk to strangers, but this time she has to. Maybe the people who live here could help her get back home.
With a small step and a deep breath she raised her hand to the door and knocked.
After a short moment the door started to open. Standing there with a beautiful smile, that made the girl feel a little safer, was a young woman. Her hair glistened in the sunset. When she spoke to the child her voice seemed to calm her. It had such a gentle tone, just like her mother, but she was still a stranger. The only thing that the girl could do was ask the lady for her help.
She told her about how she had gotten lost in the woods and was unable to find her way back home.
The woman invited her inside and offered her a bowl of food.
When the girl looked at it she curled her nose and the woman asked her what was wrong.
“What is this?” the girl asked.
“Child, that is a warm meal for a small girl who hasn’t eaten in days.” The woman told her.
The woman’s response to what she had asked made the girl sad. She had not followed the teachings of her parents about having good manners.
“I’m sorry Ma’am. I didn’t mean that to sound bad.”
The woman just smiled back and encouraged her to eat.
After eating half of the meal, the small girl became sleepy and asked the woman if she could lie down for just a short while.
“Absolutely, dear.” The woman replied acting rather pleased that she could help the child. She showed her to a small bed in the back of the house. As soon as the girl saw it she felt relieved that it wasn’t some ratty old bed that wasn’t fit for a dog to sleep in.
Once she was in the bed the woman covered her with warm, soft blankets and asked, “Child. What is your name?”
With sleepy eyes the girl looked at her and replied, “Goldilocks.”
“I am Ira. Sweet dreams child.”
In no time at all she was fast asleep.
I have had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful author recently. Her name is Kristen Walker.
Interview With Kristen….
What is your book about?
A Flight of Marewings is an epic fantasy with a number of characters, so there’s a lot going on. The main story follows Korinna, a young woman who is the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Kyratia City. When the duke dies under mysterious circumstances, his warlord, Galenos, comes to marry Korinna in hopes of becoming the city’s new ruler. But other political factions don’t want to see Galenos and Korinna take over.
Korinna decides to take a risk and join the warlord’s mercenary company so she can help conquer her father’s city. But she doesn’t want to be just any regular soldier—she wants to become a marewing rider, which means catching and taming a dangerous monster. Her adventures involve military training, making new friends, and fighting both humans and monsters. Meanwhile, other characters are getting into troubles of their own, like the mage Ameyron who investigates the duke’s death and Galenos’s attempts to manage a peaceful takeover.
Why did you want to write this book?
This book was a culmination of a lot of different ideas and half-finished stories that I’ve had over the years. One thing that inspired me from a young age was the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I loved the rich world and culture that she created around her dragon riders, not to mention the wide variety of characters that live in her stories, and I’ve wanted to make something like that of my own someday. I started creating the world of Seirenia when I was thirteen and it’s evolved ever since.
So I knew for years that I would write a series that follows many different characters, but I couldn’t find the entry point. Every time I started to write a story set in my world, I would think, “No, wait, something else important happened before this.” You could say that my ideas kept multiplying and I had trouble sticking to just one of them. Korinna’s story was the one that I finally settled on because she and Galenos want to create peace by working with other leaders instead of conquering them.
How long did it take you to write the book?
The total writing process took me almost exactly a year. I started working on the outline in last January. Most of the writing happened during the spring, including Camp NaNoWriMo in April. At the same time, I was finishing and releasing my first novel, so the first draft of A Flight of Marewings took me several months. I spent the summer and fall polishing that draft in revisions with help from a lot of different beta readers, including my husband. And most recently, the professional artist, Jennifer Cox, worked with me during back-and-forth conversations to make the cover art look absolutely beautiful, while I was also wrangling with formatting issues.
In contrast, it took me about eighteen months from start-to-finish for my first novel, so I was able to work faster this time. I hope that I can keep learning more about the full process of creating a book, from writing to publishing, and streamline it to be faster.
Here’s a rather interesting Book Blurb…
Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?
Get to know Kristen!
Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke’s illegitimate daughter who must stop her father’s murderers–by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen’s pirate pictures, please visit kristenwalker.net. You can talk good books, cats, or medieval cooking with Kristen anytime on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.
Links To grab a copy of this awesome book…
Tour Link: http://www.kristenwalker.net/marewings-book-tour/
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