Tag Archives: shadows of avalon

Learning, dreaming and rambling

I sent ‘A Queen’s Tale’ off to be edited today. I will be very happy to have it done and back available for download. The only negative feedback the story received so far was for the editing, and even the negative said the story was great. Self-publishing was a steep learning curve which I always knew it would be.

The moment I got my first negative review all I saw was the negative, all I felt was the feeling of being chastised and told off. I didn’t see the good comments, I didn’t see the 4 stars given. For the first day I kind of missed the point. Feedback doesn’t mean you failed. Feedback means you can do better.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. –Samuel Beckett

I know I have a lot to learn, I also know that I have the stories to tell. No matter what I do voices and their stories keep invading my mind. This is my dream and no amount of hard work can deter me.

For those who are new to the Justine show, ‘A Queen’s Tale’ is the first work in our ‘Shadows of Avalon’ series. A modern take on the concept of the tales of Arthur and his knights, and Avalon. It was an introductory teaser novella to introduce some of the characters before the release of ‘Nyssa’s Tale’ the first novel in the series. I self-published it on Smashwords. After much positive feedback but comments on the editing I took it down. One of the biggest things I learned from the experience was how different sentence structure could be between countries – namely New Zealand and the US. I was told by people who had lived in the US for a time that they basically had to relearn how to speak once they got there and again once they got back to New Zealand. This is still an on-going thing for me as I like my voice, I like my style of writing, but I also want to tackle the US market, which is one reason I set about looking for a professional editor. It’s one reason I want to get a professional agent and be professionally published for the novels I have coming forth. I am still planning to republish ‘A Queen’s Tale’ once it is edited. And I will be promoting the wonderful woman Kendra who is working with me to edit this as she is just starting to break into the business.

At the end of the day my dream was never to be an Indie Author and I am in awe of the people that are. But I am going to keep going with my dream to travel down the regular author path. Who knows where the future will take me, all I know is my dreams are calling and I am powerless to not heed the call.

Oh look, I rambled again…

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Ladies of the Lake

So I wanted to do another teaser for Tuesday. We have so many stories we are working on,  and I want to share them all. So I asked Sam for a suggestion as to what I should share of ours today. She, with very little hesitation, said “Ladies of the Lake”. Now as you have probably guessed this first-draft-writing-in-progress is part of the Shadows of Avalon and is in fact a flashback to times gone by and the days of Arthur….

**

She came from the lake, water spilling from her body as the wet cloth clung to her. She glowed in the twilight as she moved towards the party, the men on horseback waiting on the shore. She knew each by face and by name though none knew her, not yet. The sun had vanished behind the clouds as it set though the hint of its light remained setting the lake and sky to a deep blue the lake rippling with dark shadows and in the water she stood there in her silver gown, the retrieved sword in her hands, though it was not the one that was promised to this man who rode at the head of the pack, his would come in time but that time was not tonight and she would not be the one to bring it to him.
This sword belonged to another who rode to join them now, he alone knew her face, though many who looked on her now knew her soul in the lives that had come before them.
“Madame, you will catch a chill.” A young knight jumped from his horse and came forward once he had tugged a cloak free of his belongings strapped to the horse. “Please, take this, we will cast our eyes away and let you change from these sodden clothes. It would not do well for you to catch your death.” The man came closer to her and noticed first the sword in her hands and then the mark on her forehead that denoted her as a priestess of the Isle. He dropped to bent knee before her and held out his cloak, head bowed in reverence. “My lady I did not know you for who you were.”
“And yet you showed me kindness and respect, your heart is ever pure Bedevere. I thank you for the gesture.”
“You know me lady?” He tilted his head and looked up at her, the others remaining silent on their horses but all looked on curious as to what was transpiring that one of their own would drop to bended knee before her.
“I know you all.” She smiled kindly at him and then as she touched a hand to his to raise him up she turned her eyes to the others. “Please, you are all welcome at the lake. You may rest here as you planned to for the night.”
Their leader jumped from his horse and strode forward, wearing his crown well for all his youthful years and short months upon the throne.
“You know us lady, but please let us give our names and greetings as if we were strangers to you, as you are to us.” He unsheathed his sword and set it into the ground before him and knelt before it. “I am Arthos, or Arthur as the people all me.”
“Be welcome Arthur, I am Niniane of the Lake and I have been sent to bring this to another of your party who lost it many years ago in an argument with a young priestess.”
“A young priestess who was ever stubborn and would not cast aside duty.” A figure broke from the darkness of the trees, leading a horse that favoured it’s front right hoof.
“A young priestess who fought with a stubborn young priest who would not cast aside his own duty either. Hello Myrddin.”
“Hello Niniane, the years have been kind to you.” Myrddin let his horse free as another knight left his own to tend to it. He moved to her side and bent his head to kiss her cheek. “I have missed you.”
“And yet you have not come to call on me.” She chided him gently though there was still accusation in her words. He had not returned to the Isle in seven years since they had argued and he had thrown the sword she had given him into the lake in his anger. He had left her then, left the island and not returned until this night when he brought the new king he had chosen over her, to find blessing with Lord and Lady of the Isle and the great Gods who blessed this place.
“I have been busy.”
“I have seen.”
“You have watched me then?”
“Often do I go to your sanctuary and let the cave of crystal show me you as you have been and are. We both submitted to our duty this does not mean my heart turned as cold as that crystal against you.” Niniane spoke with no embarrassment as she admitted that she still loved the man who now wore grey in his beard.
“It seems there are stories to be shared, but perhaps camp might be made and dinner prepared if we are to spend the night here, the light will fade soon and we are without the moon tonight.” A handsome young knight moved from his horse.
“Gwaine is right, you should all be about your business as if I did not disturb you. If you would be willing to share your meal with me I should repay by sharing a story or two.”
“It shall be as you say lady.” Gwaine bowed low in her direction and all the knights and their king followed suit, the only one who did not bow was Myrddin, he stood fixed in place his eyes moving from her face to the sword and Niniane fought to not laugh at him. Though he would have known that he might see her in this journey he clearly did not expect to find her so soon.
“Will you walk with me Myrddin?” She asked in a soft voice, still holding his sword in her hands.
“Forgive me lady.” Arthur took a step closer to them, clearly feeling he was intruding and seeming almost bashful for it.
“Yes my king?” Niniane turned her gaze to the young king from his mentor.
“You are still dressed in your wet clothes and it still stands that in this cool night air you might take a chill and become unwell and none here will allow such a thing to come to pass and rest on our conscience. Please let us give you dry clothes before you and Myrddin take your leave to continue your reunion.”
“You are quite the silver tongue my king and I will gratefully accept the lending of clothes, I was foolish in that I did not think beyond my quest to retrieve the sword from where it lay hidden to what my state would be after. The Lady would chide me for it, though it would not I believe surprise her that I would act so, especially not when this one is involved.” Niniane spoke in a low conspiratorial tone and gave Arthur a wink that caused him to look even more self-conscious. It amused her that he in such a position as he held would act in such a way. It gave her more hope for his reign after the bloodshed and destruction of his father.
Arthur was all king though as he waved his hand for others to bring to him the clothes he had offered but she did not begrudge him that, he was after all king. Bedevere came forth and offered his cloak to go with the rest and she accepted it with no hesitation. She knew their pride would not allow her to say no and she wished them to be at ease with her.
“I will change over in the trees.” She turned and began to walk only to pause at the sound of footsteps on the lake stones behind her. She turned back to face the way she had come and found Myrddin close behind her. “One might wonder where you think you are going?”
“I will not spy while you change but I will not allow you to enter the woods with no escort nearby nor will I let you too far from my sight this evening.” He gave her a smile that she had missed all too much and one she could not resist.
“Very well.” Niniane continued to walk to the trees and finding one with a trunk of suitable girth she moved behind it to shed her damp dress and change. She had to admit once she had secured the pants around her with the rope belt and pulled the cloak around her shoulders that it did feel better to be dry, the slight breeze did not seem to move through to her bones in the same fashion now. She retrieved her wet dress and undergarments from the forest floor and held them in one hand while she picked up Myrddin’s sword in the other as she came forth from behind the tree and into his sight once more.
“Do you recall the night you gave that to me?”
“I do, in vivid detail including the moment you cast it away and broke the promise between us.” Tallking of the memory brought it to mind and the feelings of that night burned as strong as the image burned bright in her mind.
“You would not come away with me.” Myrddin replied, his tone defensive.
“And you would not stay with me.” Niniane tried not to react to the tone but though years had passed the hurt still remained between them. “You had your duty and I had mine and we are hardly strangers to it being this way.”
“Your lips.”
“My lips?” Niniane blinked her eyes at his reply to her words, they were not expected.
“I would kiss them.”
“You are not free to give me the promises that your kiss has always held Myrddin, we might not either be strong enough to survive it.”
“And yet standing there all I wish for is to kiss them again, to know you again, your body and pleasure as is my right as your chosen.”
“You chose me Myrddin, claimed me but you left me and it near destroyed me, I come to make peace, not to make love.”
“You do not feel the same as you once did.” His words accused her even as his eyes turned cold and hard in anger.
“I feel as I always have, I loved you before you claimed me and I love you still, my body still stirs for yours Myrddin as it ever has, there has been no other I have lain with in ritual or in pleasure.” Niniane looked down at the sword in her hands, tears stinging at her eyes and she tried to blink them away before they could fall and betray the sadness in her heart. “I gave you this sword six moons after you claimed me as the wolf to my dragon, it was to be the gift of our betrothal and when you threw it away you threw with it my heart. I give you back your sword and give you always my heart, but I can never be yours as you cannot be mine. We have been given our tasks and will shall do them because our lives are only two compared to the many that will be blessed and the peace that will hold these lands if we do as we are tasked.”
Myrddin did not reply but took her by the arms and pulled her to him, his arms locked around her and he held her tight in his embrace. No words spoken though any watching could see from the shaking of their bodies that both wept for what they had between them, for what had been and what could be and would not.
Niniane was first to break their embrace though she did not wish to but she was not strong enough to remain in his arms and not be moved, not relent and let his lips taste hers once more. More nights than she could count had passed as she wished to kiss him again, to lie with him again and she knew that she would relent far too easily and perhaps even turn her back on her task.
“I promised the king and his companions a tale for my supper, I should pay the debt.”
“There is no debt, you have not eaten and even if you had already not one man expects anything for the gesture of hospitality.” Myrddin said and let his hand rise to wipe a tear from her cheek but his hand froze in place between them without reaching her cheek. For a moment her heart had sped up as she thought he might so tenderly touch her and she turned aside when he did not so he would not see into her eyes.
“Come let us eat supper together and let me share in the hospitality offered.” Niniane drew her eyes from the ground to look briefly at Myrddin and then handing the sword into his keeping once more she turned and made her way to the fireside, taking a place offered to her at Arthur’s right side. It was a position of honour and she accepted it with a smile keeping her eyes from seeking out Myrddin in the firelight once more.

Our souls touched

I had a strange dream last night. It involved organising to pick pocket a visiting priestess who turned out to be on our side, small earthquakes and ominous raging seas, singing the song from King Arthur and magically jumping around the land to avoid Roman soldiers.
So, really, pretty normal for me.
I woke up feeling inspired and rather magical. And I wrote a poem. It was around four am in the morning so I wrote it by the light of the phone into my notebook, so as you can imagine…staying within the lines on the page did not happen. I thought I would share the poem. It relates very much to a few of our characters in our stories. The souls in some of our stories, especially the Children of the Immortals and the Shadows of Avalon tales, are bound beyond death and distance – for better or worse sometimes. But in my mind it is a powerful concept and at times a romantic one. Our souls may touch from life to life and be drawn back to each other again.
Our souls touched
Entwined
In days gone by
The world does not forget these things
We do not forget these things
As lives move on
Death may come
We may return
Different
Apart
But we do not forget these things
Our souls touched
Entwined
Forever
You are a part of me

The Lady of Shallot

For my 18th birthday I was given a wooden frame with a small picture of “The Lady of Shallot” by John William Waterhouse in it. (The picture still has a spot of pride on my hutch.) Shortly after I came across the Miss Marple tale “The mirror crack’d from side to side” which to this day remains one of my favourite Agatha Christie tales. I am not sure why I like the story of this Lady, or the art, so much. There is something beautiful in the tragedy of the story. You can’t help but feel for the poor woman and though I adore the story, I do not think I can bring myself to bring such a tortured soul into Shadows of Avalon flashbacks. But we shall see, it is still early days on writing the past lives and adventures.

Regardless this remains one of my all time favourite pieces of art.

Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Time to find out and become missus

So I did promise you all some #WIP, writing in progress. And I have been tossing up between a piece of Jaidee’s story and a Shadows of Avalon piece about my beloved Auta. Now most of you have yet to meet Auta and I really wanted to share something for her, so Jaidee will come another day. I won’t give away too much about Auta’s story that led up to this scene for it would be riddled with spoilers and we wouldn’t want that now would we, Sweeties? Auta has quite the part in the Shadows of Avalon series, but for now she is just starting to understand that she is special and come in to her powers. Like so many of us, she struggles to believe in herself….luckily for her there are forces at work to change that….

This is a first draft #WIP, but I hope you enjoy meeting Auta

***

“What’s your name?”

Auta nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of a voice and the cougar growled in warning. Auta looked around and found sitting in a tree a little person. He would have reached not much higher than Auta’s knees but was clearly not a child. Long legs and arms were wiry thin and he had a thinning patch on his head showing he was advanced in years, which was confirmed by the fairness that streaked his hair.

“Me?”

“Well I weren’t talking to the kitty cat now was I? That would be daft missus and I ain’t daft.”

“No, of course not.” Auta replied though she had no idea if this creature was daft, or even real.

“Now why wouldn’t I be real, I’m sitting her ain’t I? And you still ain’t given me your name missus.”

“Auta, Autumn.” Auta mumbled, wondering if she should be so freely giving her name to strangers.

“Now look here Autum, ain’t no reason to be calling Johnny Puckle strange is there, and I ain’t got your real name do I, just your name, name, as the Silver Lady told ya, you need to find your real name. What do you like?”

“Like?” Auta was having a little trouble keeping track of this conversation. “And I did not call you strange, I called you a stranger, it means I do not yet know you.”

“Oh, well and good then. I gave you my name for yours so now we are introduced and we might have a chat and know each other. Might be harder though missus since you don’t know yourself at all. All that lovely magic like the olden days and you don’t even know how to use it. I asked you what you like but I can see already, you has the blue streak in your heart. You’re a healer you are missus, and a nature babe, like a spirit of the forest and the plants. I’d wager there is nymph in you somewhere missus, just like the olden days.” The little man jumped from his place on the tree and landed on the big cat’s back. The cat gave him a look but made no move to remove Johnny Puckle from his spot. “Ah, I miss the olden days, I used to watch them dance you know, the nymphs used to come up from the water and out of the trees and flowers and oh the dances they did. Ain’t nothing prettier than wild spirits dancing to the forest.” The little man sighed and looked up at Auta. “Well are we walking or not missus. You ain’t going to find your gift standing gawking at me like I grew wings and antlers. I can if you want though missus, grow some wings to make you more comfortable.”

Auta realised she was staring and looked away. “Where are we going then?”

“Well missus, why do you think this here kitty cat came down out of the mountains to this forest, it weren’t to take in the sights no missus, she’s here to guide you on, we best follow her and see where we end up. You missus have a long journey ahead in that mind of you. Oh the places you’ll visit once you let your soul fly free. Maybe you’ll dance for Johnny Puckle. You and your sister. She’s a precious one that lady. She dances too just like the nymphs, she doesn’t think anyone is watching but old Johnny Puckle is there making sure she stays safe. The old ones ask it of Johnny Puckle and so he does. And now she has her man and her power though best she learn something new every day too just like you missus, but her man watches her now and Johnny Puckle is here today to watch you missus.”

“Okay…” Auta said, she knew she wasn’t much for the words right now but this little man seemed to be talking enough for both of them. She was beginning to wonder if something had happened to her, maybe she had been hurt, a tree had fallen on her and she was in a coma and this was all make believe in her mind. It was something out of a book or a movie, not Auta’s life.

“Now missus, you need to do something about this here disbelief of yours, you’re living this day and still you don’t believe it, it’s as clear as the nose on your face and we can both see that. Did they drop you missus? Drop you on your head when you was little. Blimey missus, you’re a stubborn one ain’t ya.” Johnny Puckle shook his head. “Modern world and you’ve all forgotten what is real and has always been here. Give me a dancing nymph any day. Silly humans the lot of you missus, no disrespect, well not to you missus, just to them, you need to forget you’ve been pretending to be one.”

“Pretending to be human? But I am human, see look at me.”

“That is just your body missus and lots of beings look like that, the Fae Queen, beauty that she was looked just like you do, well not just like, her eyes were different and well okay missus you looked different but you were still the same and she was not human and you ain’t neither. Nor is your sister or the others you will run around with. Special you are, old blood, blood of power, of gods and fae and magic. You need to get that in your noggin missus.”

Auta was sure if the little man could have reached he would have knocked on her head, trying to knock some sense in to her. Why was it that she couldn’t simply believe this was real? Why couldn’t she trust everyone around her even after all she had seen and what she had done, that she could be as special as them?

Because she was taught that it was wrong to think yourself special and above everyone else. It was a punishable offence and such lesson’s were hard to shake off even in the face of magic.

“Well missus I’m sorry that they tanned that there backside of yours and worse but you ain’t meant to cling to the past like that, it’s time to go forward, that’s what awaits. Ain’t no way to go back missus. Time don’t work like that even the gods have to jump forward, great storms they make when they go back. Once or twice it might be done but not often, not often missus, you should see the mess, has to be vital, and usually missus they only do it to put a child where they need to be but you missus have to go forward so enough now of this or I’ll take you over me knee and don’t be thinking I won’t or that this here lady cougar will stop me. You’re giving her headache enough with all your disbelief.

Auta followed on in somewhat of a daze, so if this was real and it seemed that it truly was, she was not human and she had to embrace everything she was and believe. But the how still remained the question.

They walked on deeper into the forest, Auta had never been this far in before. There had never been any need. The ground angled up and the trees continued up the hill side. They were heading west now and the hills would become the mountains if they continued to follow the rise and flow of the land but that was greater distances than Auta wished to travel by foot.

The cougar walked in front of Auta leading the way through the trees following a path only it knew. The little man Johnny Puckle sat astride the big cats back still and with the way she kept looking back to her rider it seemed they were in silent communication. Auta was jealous in some ways, it seemed that was an easy emotion for her to go to. That was something she wanted to be free of. She wished to be free of the negative thoughts and emotions she had often clung to.

“That missus is a noble intention that is. And you would do well to make it come true missus. Take a lesson from Johnny Puckle ain’t no time for them feelings. For every one thing you be jealous of missus in another, they be jealous of you for something too. World got enough negative without that kinda thinking missus, waste of that energy in you tainting it and turning it black missus, you need to shine missus, let your light shine out of your pretty smile and the world be better for it missus, Johnny Puckle promise you that.”

“I know. It’s just hard…”

“Well missus, nothing worthy has ever been easy, where would be the lesson in that and don’t get Johnny Puckle wrong, life is about the lesson and learning, Johnny Puckle is always learning missus. Even today. This here cougar comes to you today for your lesson and Johnny Puckle is here to tell you that she won’t be here for you every day and there be a lesson to learn from all who come to you missus, be they of this world or the next, or beast or man, all have a lesson missus and you have missed many. Here we are missus.”

The cougar had stopped in a small clearing where the trees ringed the area, their branches reaching out to each other, mingling and touching to create a canopy over the little space. Auta stopped before the clearing and looked at the mushrooms that ringed. “A fairy ring…” She clapped her hands in delight recalling days of her childhood searching for such things and hours spent cloud gazing within them when she found one big enough.

“True enough missus, a ring of the Fae folk, place of power it be and here you will find it easier to let your soul fly. Time for you to let go missus, time for you to know your heart. Time is marching on and soon you’ll be caught up in the story missus and the streak of the healer will be needed, loved ones and ones to love will need your healing missus, you best be ready and not let them down missus.”

“Need me? But what can I do?”

“None of that talk missus, no time for doubt, time to find out and become missus. Take your place in the ring missus, the Cougar and I will lead you home, she’s already gone missus.”

Auta had been so intent on the ring of mushrooms she had not noticed that Johnny Puckle had alighted from his steed and the cougar now lay in the circle seemingly asleep. The way she was positioned Auta just knew that she was expected to place her head between the two paws. The thought scared her some but she knew she would not be allowed to use her fear and back out, she was expected to do now and so do she would.

She stepped over the wild white caps and into the ring feeling the power as soon as she crossed the line. She could actually sense the two lines that ran into this spot and crossed over sharing their energy before their journey continued on out from this spot. Something about the position of the trees and perhaps even the mushrooms as they grew amplified the power of the place within the clearing.

“Well come on missus, Johnny Puckle ain’t getting younger while your mind turns like a whirl pool, get your backside in there and down you go missus, close your eyes and let old Johnny Puckle guide you on missus. The Silver Lady says its time.”