Saturday, June 9, 2018

hot summer days

Summer is definitely here! This weekend is hot with expected highs today and tomorrow of around 90 F, probably higher. On top of that, there's not much wind. It's always windy here on the prairie, except on hot days (of course). (edit: it got windy!)

This morning, I had intended to ride my horse while it was cool--I've hardly seen him all week because of my already busy schedule. However, it was already hot this morning by the time I brought him in from his pasture where I have him boarded. So, after cleaning him off and spraying him down with fly spray, we just hung out.

I like to get him away from his herd when I can, as long as he's confident. Ruining a horse's confidence by pushing for too much will set you back. He's been gaining confidence in me over the nearly three years that I've had him--we have it solid in groundwork, but everything is different when a horse can't see his herd leader (human or horse). I know how different horse personalities are and have worked hard to push him just a little bit at a time so that he has to think about something new but then soon realizes that he's all right and feels more comfortable. I like a horse that is calm and confident, not simply containing himself because he doesn't feel like he can express himself; the just-getting-along-to-get-it-over-with horses end up blowing up at some point.

So, I took Buddy out to graze in the ditch out front, away from his herd, where the grass is untouched and tall. We've done that before, and he doesn't necessarily like it, but he settles down and enjoys the change, especially the alfalfa. Once he settled down, and when he was in a spot where I had a ledge, I took the opportunity to get on his back and enjoy the view. He hardly moved. The grass was thick there and he was content to just stay in one spot.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Enlightenment is here!

I love saying that. What a good word to make a statement with. In this case, however, it's a title.

Enlightenment is currently uploaded for major retailers but not yet fully distributed. I have reworked the description:
For the first time, the daemons of the Shadow Realm are afraid. Lilly has destroyed many of them for the sake of forbidden love. 
However, the same power to kill daemons has also left Darrac teetering on the brink of death. Heartbroken, Lilly has sworn to do anything to save him, even cross to the Shadow Realm, but first, she must learn to control her power. That won't be easy—she doesn't understand it. No one does. But she is determined to learn, even if that means cooperating with the one man who would gladly see Darrac dead. 
Mychel has no love for daemons, not even those who might have changed, but he is dedicated to protecting Lilly. As part of his efforts to hide her from the daemons, he steals her away to an ancient monastery halfway around the world. There, they will uncover secrets that could alter the fates of both realms, but the daemons have other plans.
If you haven't yet read Book 1 of the Luriel Cycle, the ebook is free at all major retailers, including the Google Play store.

As of this post, Enlightenment is available at Amazon, Google Play, and Smashwords for only $3.99. Links are in The Luriel Cycle tab at the top of my blog.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Getting closer to Enlightenment

Enlightenment has been delayed a bit. I found myself closely following the whole freedom of expression case going on in the indie writing community. Because of that, I rejoined Twitter. Many of us writers have been restless to get to a point that we know that the first amendment is on our side and that trademark trolls can't steal our creative freedom from us.

There is a point and a place for trademarks, but hoarding words and threatening writers who use them is not that. Today, a judge reaffirmed that right, but there is more to come in this. It isn't over yet, but this first step to unraveling this mess frees me from worrying and watching the Twitter feed for updates.

While the whole incident is focused on the romance genre, it affects writers of all genres, including science fiction and fantasy. Where one troll started this, there have been many more popping up, although none quite so bitter. The rulings in this case will set a precedent for everyone, and, to our relief, it seems that freedom of expression is more important to the law than one person's marketing monopoly. Trademark was not meant to be a weapon for writers but a protection. A hammer can be used as a tool or a weapon. Once it becomes a weapon, all bets are off--the victims will defend themselves.

So, now that the first victory in this long road has been achieved, we can all breathe a little easier.

I have been working through this, but my attention has been split. It has delayed editing on Enlightenment. I've also been very picky about fixing every little detail. I'm a perfectionist, but I also know that no one person is perfect, not even in editing. I know that no matter how many edits a book receives, I will always find something to change, especially as I improve or have better days of focus.

At the earliest, I will have Enlightenment ready for release on June 10. It's looking like Eternal may be released in early July. This is why I didn't set up preorders of either book. When they're ready, they'll be available. (Preorders generally require a 2 week lead time to get the final version uploaded.)

Thank you for your patience.

ps--later this summer, I hope to have an announcement about the next segment of the Starfire Angels series.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Thank you, reviewers!

Shared from my Goodreads profile:

Like other writers, I depend on your book reviews. Those are a buoy for the books and a lifeline or warning sign to readers. They help others decide if the book is in their tastes--I know they do for me when I'm looking for something to read! Whether you liked them or not doesn't matter. It's the substance that counts. 
And it's not simply on one platform but all of them that matter. 
So, thank you to those who make the effort to write up something about their reading experience. It means a lot to me. I try to do the same, because I know what it means. 
Lastly, there is one reviewer who is the only one to date to review Awakening on Amazon. I'd like to reward you with free versions of the last two books of the trilogy this summer when they are available, if you're interested. Please get in touch with me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Read Awakening FREE

Awakening is now free on all channels, including Amazon!

This trilogy will be complete with books 2 and 3 coming out this summer, in 2018. Read more on the series page of this blog at

An epic contemporary fantasy on a parallel, Earth-like world, where multiverses exist as realms. Beings from one of these realms frequently cause trouble in others and there is a reckoning coming due. One woman is caught in the middle as the catalyst for a change that will change the lives of everyone.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

tweet tweet

After seeing what I've missed in the writing community, I made a decision today. I chose to reinvent myself on Twitter. I didn't want to do it, but I was missing out on a lot of conversations about writer issues and couldn't always access links to Tweets from articles on the latest big story. I won't go into details but to say there are some arrogant pricks out there in writersverse who think they can claim common words for themselves and harm their "competition". I've been trying to follow developments of this story, as it presents a dilemma and a slippery slope that should not be touched with a ten-foot pole, and it's hard when so much is on social media. However, this is an important development that affects everyone--writers and readers alike--and I can't afford to not follow it.

So, I put myself back on Twitter to follow writers, writing groups, and those involved in IP law; no more personal use but professional only. I'll share my blog posts, but I'll exercise restraint to avoid getting involved in conversations. I hope that my time off of most social media has helped me to readjust my thinking back to being who I want to be--private. I am hoping to refrain from the snap judgments promoted by social media culture and the narcissism that goes with it. It's bad enough that I continue to share pictures on Instagram. Alas, we're all puppets in this show or cogs in a wheel, however you want to analogize the situation.

My old Twitter account is gone, so I start over, but I'm glad for the fresh start @ma_nilles.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

More Starfire Angels?

The Starfire Angels series has been my most popular series to date, and the one that I have enjoyed writing, except that the storyline grew difficult to keep up without ruining. I can get bored quickly when I want something fresh.

However, I've now branched off to express thoughts in other areas with new series and worlds and satisfied my need for something new; and I feel the pull to return to something familiar. Starfire Angels is like a bungie cord for me--always springing back after I've gone too far.

For the longest time, I didn't know how to get back into it. I tried with The Lereni Trade (Beyond Starfire Angels series) but didn't feel inspired to write more.

There may be another way to get back to our favorite angels. I came up with an idea today. I've had something rattling in my brain making noise for quite some time now. It wasn't clear but I knew something was trying to emerge. It always takes the right catalyst for the magic to happen.

That happened this afternoon. It pulled together Starfire Angels with my first novel (never published), thanks to watching Stargate SG-1 (rewatching the whole series lately). The first Starfire Angels was inspired by an anime show I enjoyed twelve years after writing a novelette in college. I've always felt that Starfire Angels could be something else, but it had to branch off, and SG-1 was always in the back of my mind with SA's possibilities. Now, I know what I'm going to do. I have a series title in mind, but I'm not revealing that until I have the first book written.

I'm planning on short novels rather than my usual big tomes. I'd like to get a five-six book series of short novels out over the course of 15-18 months, but we'll see how that works. It's a plan, anyway. I already have an outline and background and an established world from this spark of an idea today. Starfire Angels fans forced me to come up with new ideas to satisfy their hunger for the Dark Angel series. (Mostly because of their love of Elis, I think.) Those ideas have become springboards to others. SG-1 was merely a catalyst for putting it all together.

I know how I'm going to expand Starfire Angels into a new branch series. Follow this blog to learn more when I have it!

ps--It will not feature Elis and Raea but other characters who have grown important and also new characters who will be added.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt 4

Enlightenment continued from April 10th:

"What's hiding in that hill?" 
Damn him, and damn the tiny room! She wanted to get away, to avoid revealing the truth. He'd just tell his Pallora Fen friends, and they'd do something worse than the Peacekeepers. 
"You already know!" 
"Know what? Tell me, Lilly." 
"Or what? You'll try to kill me again?" 
He sat back, staring up at her with a look of shock and shame on his face as if he'd been slapped. He sank until he hunched over to prop his elbows on his thighs. "I deserved that, I suppose." 
"Yes, you do. I remember, Mychel." She stepped away to the door, the farthest she could get from him and the awful memory of how he'd betrayed her. "I remember you attacking me, this time because I defended Darrac. Then you lied to me about it. Would you ever have told the truth if the commandant hadn't shown me?" 
He hung his head of sandy-blonde hair. "I thought it was the only way to save you…and then I saw…a daemon defended a celemae. He was willing to die for you. I didn't know what to believe. And then it all happened so fast that I didn't have time to think until after the daemons were gone. You, Lilly, have a power I have never seen before." 
That almost sounded like an apology, but not quite. 
Mychel ruffled his fingers through his hair, then stopped suddenly and stiffened. 
"It was my fault." He focused on her, his brows pressed in shame. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. He must have betrayed them. When he used his power to heal, the daemons were able to locate him. I'm sorry, Lilly. I didn't know." 
"You should have thought of that before you attacked me." 
He adjusted his leg and winced. "I didn't realize. I thought he had corrupted you. But you…you changed him. That's what the woman—Soroya—meant. Not only do you contain the Un'Dei, but you used it on him. You must have been making him whole again." Mychel's eyes crawled up and down her body as if seeing her anew or trying to assess what she had already figured out. It had taken him long enough. 
"Within you is the power they seek. You're meant to become something new, something beyond any other celemae." 
"What?" Why couldn't they explain to her what seemed so abundantly clear to them? 
"I don't know." 
That deflated her expectations. 
"If you'll let me help you, we might learn what it is you could become." 
"How?" she asked warily. "Your Pallora Fen friends?" 
"Something like that." 
"And you'll forget about the Vel—" She clamped her mouth upon catching her slip but let out a gust of breath. He already knew, whether she confirmed it or not. "They're good men. Promise you'll leave them out of this, Mychel. Say anything to your Pallora Fen and I will refuse to cooperate." 
An empty threat—she would need to develop her power if she hoped to reunite with Darrac. Unfortunately, the Pallora Fen seemed to be her only option. 
From the look on his face, Mychel knew. "Agreed. I won't tell them about your…friends." He said the last word as if it left a foul taste on his tongue. 
Good enough. The weight lifted from her mind, although not totally. Mychel was too dedicated to let something like daemon followers alone. 
He pursed his lips in a reluctant yielding and nodded. "I think I owe Darrac an apology. Without his sacrifice, we wouldn't know about you. But, now that we do, you'll be a bigger target than ever for daemons."
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Watch for the full novel in late May-early June 2018!

Read Book 1 of The Luriel Cycle, Awakening, now in paperback or ebook:

Amazon (99c)

Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Writing Updates

Happy May Day! I can't believe we're 1/3 into 2018 already. It feels like the older I get, the faster time goes.

And the slower I move.

However, I also get wiser. That's something worthwhile about getting older and gaining experience.

With that comes the realization that I can do better. And I'm doing something about that, in many aspects of my life. One of those is in writing.

I've finally done something that needed to be done for several years--re-edited Tiger Born. I love love LOVE this story and this world (and Paul's art on the cover)! While the book starts out slow (as I was learning about this world while writing), it finds it's footing by the midway point and evolves into something tragic but hopeful and inspiring (at least for me). That's why I ended up writing Spirit Blade, to continue with this wonderful world. Now that I just finished another round on Tiger Born, I want to get back into that world. I've been wanting to for a long time, but then I'd get distracted by a shiny new idea that gets too big and keeps me away too long, like with what became The Luriel Cycle.

With cleaning up the writing, I've also dropped the price to $2.99. I feel that this story should be worth more, but apparently the market doesn't think so, even if it is a full-length novel.

I want to go back to other books and update them also as I have time (and enjoy them once again as I did while writing), which is part of the fun of being indie. I did Tiger Born now because it needed it--I wanted to do this for a long time--and it helped get my mind off The Luriel Cycle for a short time, just long enough to be fresh.

Now that I'm back into edits on Enlightenment after visiting another world, I am seeing the mistakes far more clearly in this one. It's so revealing to edit something else to take a break from something you've been deep into for a year or more. I've already made major edits to the story in the first draft. This is the middle edits, paring down language and refining action to something more concise, and adding descriptions where needed while watching out for any inconsistencies that might still exist (not many at this stage, if any, which is why they can be so troublesome and why I have to keep an alert mind).

I hope to finish Enlightenment in time for an end of May release, but don't hold me to that. I'd rather the book be good than committed to a date, which is why I'm not doing preorders on it. I'll be editing Eternal following Enlightenment to check the flow from one to the other and have the story fresh in my mind to avoid inconsistencies. I'd like to think that I kept them out, but having moments of less clarity while writing because of sleep issues can open the doorway for them to sneak in.

I hope to release Eternal by the end of June. In between, I'll be editing this and Spirit Blade, and then I don't know. I want to write more books--shorter novels--in the Demon Age series, but I get inklings on occasion to return to the Starfire Angels series.

It boils down to not letting myself develop any more worlds and sticking to the ones I have created and playing in those. I have enough toys. I just need to rotate them to keep them fun and exciting.

Monday, April 23, 2018

inherited creativity

I used to share some of these on my Facebook page, until I closed it down. Like mother, like daughter. While I use words to paint, my oldest daughter uses different media. She's a very talented digital artist when she wants to be. Here's one of her better works, inspired by an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender and shown here by screenshot.

She creates some of her art (like the above picture)  on a Nintendo 3DS and posts it using a program called "Colors". She is also expanding to drawing on a computer with a drawing pad and creates some amazing art with the traditional pencil and paper. If you have a passionate artist, I recommend the Colors program and the supportive community of artists accessible through the 3DS.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

a lesson from being sick

There's something about chronic illness that changes you, and not only because it changes your physical health. Rather, it makes you realize your mortality and weaknesses. In that, you begin to appreciate the smallest of victories and the simplest of moments. Suddenly those days and events that once seemed like the end of the world don't seem so bad, because there are much worse things to worry about.

It's sad that we can't learn that until the irreversible illness happens. Those who understand without becoming sick are the truly blessed.

Treasure each moment that you can do what you enjoy. You never know when it will be taken away, nor do you realize how good your life is until you can no longer do the simplest of tasks without effort or not at all. Do not take anything for granted--not a breath, not a blink, not even a smile. Make changes for the better before you must learn the hard way that it could all be taken from you. Learn to appreciate every gift of your life.

This is what I wish I had more fully understood before getting sick. Just think what our would could be if everyone was thankful rather than envious and generous rather than greedy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt 3

Enlightenment continued from March 17th:

After what seemed an eternity, one of the soldiers re-emerged, shoving a black-robed man with his wrists strapped together before him. 
Lilly barely restrained a groan. Several more seemed to materialize from nothing, the last of four stumbling after a shove from the butt of a Peacekeeper weapon. Her heart sank to see one of the men she considered a friend among them, and it sank deeper when she saw the rest of the Peacekeepers emerge with seven more Velokians, some of them in their ordinary clothes. 
I'm sorry. I did this. If I hadn't feared for Mychel…  
She twisted around to see the taut lips of restrained anger on his pale face. He was Pallora Fen, the enlightened celemae preparing for Ascension. Luriel, the enemy of the daemons. Velokians served the daemons.
"Don't you even," she snarled.
Hard eyes flashed on her with accusation. 
"These are good men," she argued. 
Cheek muscles bulged with the tightening of Mychel's jaw. He didn't have to say a word--she saw it all on his face.
"That remains to be determined," Commandant Renvil said with a hint of conceit in his voice. "Sergeant." 
The smart clap of boots came from behind. 
"Take these two to a holding cell." 
At a motion of the commandant's chin, steely fingers on her shoulders dragged her towards the door. Mychel followed, hobbling on a leg brace with the help of a cane. 
At the door, they met another Peacekeeper who led them through the narrow, utilitarian corridors of the carrier. Fresh air wafted through the corridors with the faint tinge of chemicals that maintained the various parts of the airship. 
Through several tight corridors and past Peacekeepers in the wider spaces, they attracted few eyes. The men and women in their military uniforms were too busy with their duties and were too well disciplined to let themselves be distracted by prisoners; but Lilly didn't doubt they were not oblivious, especially when a young officer gave her a sly side look as she passed. 
Anger sparked a desire to wipe that look off his face but died after passing, to be replaced by guilt and regrets of having led the Peacekeepers to the castle. 
Before the Awakening of the luriel piece within her, she had often cheered their swift tamping down of civil disobedience demonstrations. Thrissen might be a free republic, but it had rules and she had gladly lived by them, would still if not for the chaos that had interrupted her orderly life. 
If only she could go back. 
But now, everything was different. 
Would the daemons come for her? Did they fear her? Would they continue what Darrac had started? What would happen in Velok without Darrac's leadership? 
A pang of grief plucked at her heart and emerged as a welling of moisture in her eyes. She swiped it away a moment before the lead guard keyed a cell door to open in the brig. 
When the woman stepped aside, Lilly was nudged into a square barely big enough for a man to fully stretch across either way, if one ignored the fold-down cots. 
When Mychel followed, she dropped onto one of those cots with her head turned away to avoid the scolding in his eyes. The faint click of the door and the tap from the cane told her all she needed—she was stuck once more in a tiny cell with him. 
The sound of fabric rustling accompanied a groan. After a heavy sigh, he fell silent. 
Several minutes passed in which Lilly started to think he might leave her alone. She dared to peer aside only to see him glaring in judgment. Those blue eyes were ice in their fix on her. 
"Those men came from the same place you did—you and Darrac. They served him, didn't they?" 
He didn't deserve an answer. 
"Tell me, Lilly. Are they revived Velokians?" 
"They're good men." 
"Are they Velokians?" 
She refused to give him the satisfaction. He didn't know them, but she knew him; he would make assumptions for the worst. 
"By your silence, I assume I'm correct." 
"You don't know them, Mychel." 
"They serve the daemons. That's all I need to know." 
She jumped to her feet before him, trembling in fury. "How dare you judge!" 
Mychel stared up at her, a curious blend of emotions on his face, but she wouldn't back down. She was done cowing to him and his Pallora Fen.
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Watch for the full novel in late May-early June 2018!

Read Book 1 of The Luriel Cycle, Awakening, now in paperback or ebook:

Amazon (99c)

Barnes and Noble

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A good reason to unplug

I haven't missed Facebook. Twitter I still kind of miss, sometimes thinking that there's something I want to share. Then, I'm forced to realize that I don't need to share and that my brain was rewired by social media to open my life to the world.

But, you know what? I feel so much HAPPIER without those platforms. It's liberating to be without both. At first, you think you're missing out, but if you wean off gradually, it's not quite so difficult. Social media is an ADDICTION. It is unhealthy for your mental state and a big reason our world is in so much trouble, imho.

Part of this was made easier because of a situation at my day job. I have a TV available by my desk and usually have it on various news programs while I'm working, on a low volume, occasionally turning it up to hear an interesting segment. However, when I'm really busy, I keep it off and play music from my phone app, quietly so it's not disturbing to me or my boss in his office.

Well, I realized something after the busy time of the year, after I had the TV off for a couple of weeks so I could concentrate on a gazillion tasks at one time, and then things slowed and I started turning it on again. If I have the TV off, I don't know what I'm missing but am too busy to care. When it's on, I tend to pay more attention to everything, only because it's there in front of me.

Guess what? The same applies to social media. Realizing that I didn't care about what I didn't know on the news made unplugging from social media that much easier for me. If more of us would just not care about what we're missing out on, we would be a lot happier. We don't need to know what someone we hardly know is doing on their vacation or that a social media celebrity got more bling. I mean--really? Does that change your life in some dramatic way?

Probably not. So, why should you care? People are just looking for attention in the form of likes and comments. It's called narcissism, and it's unhealthy behavior, on both sides.

I still have two social media accounts, but one is instagram, for picture sharing. That's all I really like anymore, if someone can tolerate my cat and horse pics and the occasional food or book pics. And I have my G+ account, which I hardly use, and then usually just to share blog posts. This blogspot is also owned by Google. (I had issues with Wordpress that came up on a periodic basis, so I gave up on that blog site.)

Social media can be very toxic, especially Twitter and Facebook. Whether that's in the form of our "friends" commenting something we dislike or something they dislike. It's not like spoken words that we only hear once. Written words are there to see over and over and tend to stick in our minds longer. Why torment yourself? There are helpful aspects also, but most people utilize both.

Back to my original point--unplug. If you are constantly checking social media because there's a little voice in your head questioning what you might be missing, turn it off. Delete one account without opening a new one. Give it four to six months and then delete the next big one. If you still can't slow down, after another six months, give up the next most active account. I promise that once you overcome the withdrawal symptoms (yes, they are real, even for our digital devices and social media), you will feel more peaceful. The world will be a quieter place. You won't know what you're missing and you won't know what should be making you angry, because it won't be constantly poking at you and irritating you. Do you like to feel angry all the time? No? I didn't think so.

I hope that others can see the light as I have. You don't have to quit social media completely, depending on your particular level of addiction, but you'd be surprised how much lighter you feel without the two heavies--Twitter and FB. Quit oversharing your life and begin looking inside for affirmation rather than outside. You'll learn to appreciate what living really is.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

About my social media

It's finally happened. I came to my senses. After years of wanting to make a change, but succumbing to the siren song of a few connected readers, I said good bye to Facebook and my author page.

I said farewell to Twitter months ago.

It wasn't a hard decision. This was something that I felt needed to be done for some time. I've been needing to simplify my life. Besides, I've been enjoying sharing pictures on instagram far more and wanted to cut down my accounts to those that I find most useful. Just as I deleted my MySpace account many years ago, so too have Twitter and Facebook lost their luster and been tossed into the rubbish bin.

Social media has changed our world, and not for the better. I grew up without social media in a time when people actually called each other on the phone or spoke. (Yes--you know that hole in your face? That actually can make words and express meaning more so than words hastily typed on a computer screen, and you are more likely to think carefully about what comes out of it.) I lived most of my life with the contact of others in-person, not through a computer screen.

There is a deprivation of culture in our technological society. It stems from the evils of social media and the inadequacies of instant access and short statements without the explanations for full context to form thoughtful replies. It also steals time and makes us lazy. What little good can come from connecting with others too far away to contact in person can be easily overwhelmed by the unconscious comparisons to others and being too quick to judge.

I've been seeking to get back to a healthier lifestyle, one in which I speak to my closest friends and family rather than wait to see what they post online for all the world. I want less of the stress that those forms of social media bring and certainly less of the toxic atmosphere they can fuel.

Most of all, I want to enjoy life without the attachment to my computer. I'll carry a phone with instagram, but my phone is mostly a device for actually speaking to people, not for ignoring my surroundings and the beauty of this world that we will too soon leave behind. When my time comes, I don't want to look back and realize how much I missed. At least in sharing pictures, I am showing the life that is offline.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt 2

Enlightenment, continued from March 10th (unedited version):

She met the calculating gaze of the commandant with all the calm that she could muster amid the flurry of emotions. "Do you have infirmary vids?" 
Exasperation passed over his face. He turned aside to another viewer and keyed something from the side opposite her. Everything turned backwards on the viewer panel from her perspective. 
The viewer going static confirmed what she had suspected from his expression. Either they were toying with her or Soroya had done more than put the medical staff to sleep. 
"I was hoping you could tell me," Renvil said. "For several minutes, the cameras malfunctioned and doors stayed locked. Then...everything worked and your friend was gone. The medics remember nothing. I have only your word." 
She remembered the awakening of the medics and the rush of soldiers with weapons ready. That accusatory glare on his face directed at her and Mychel wasn't going to get the answer he wanted. "It wasn't us. It was her." 
"Do you accept that daemons are real?" Mychel asked. 
Commandant Renvil's glare darkened on Mychel. 
Really?! After seeing with his own eyes, he still didn't believe? It was useless explaining the truth. The Peacekeepers wouldn't listen. "Then you wouldn't believe me." 
"Mister Viltis has given us some information about a war that I find quite interesting." 
Interesting, as in, unbelievable. She was arguing with a wall. She might as well have been telling Deringer that the rover had fallen into a crater on Deiavo. Both men set their minds on what they wanted to believe and blamed someone else, and no one could change them once that happened. 
"Commandant, I can't tell you anything you want to hear," she said. 
He shrugged. "Then tell me what you know." 
"A being from the Shadow Realm came and took him away." 
"A daemon," he said with a note of disbelief.
"No. His mother." 
"A daemon's mother?" 
"Yes…and no." 
The commandant's crossed arms meant that she'd lost him completely. It would be useless to explain.
"I already told you, Am—Commandant…" Mychel corrected himself upon the stiff-jawed glower from the man. "These daemons were the dark side of the Eternals, what our ancestors knew as Gods. Luriel are the light side. During some…magical event, they were split and have been at war since." 
"I don't need another lecture on your religious nonsense." 
"It's not nonsense!" Lilly slammed her hands on the table. How had Mychel convinced her? 
He hadn't. Jazmin and the daemons had. 
If his own eyes couldn't convince him, there was nothing more she could do. 
"If you cannot give me a rational answer for the disappearance of your friend, this Darrac, I will be forced to investigate without your cooperation." 
I give up! It was pointless to argue the truth. 
When he tapped a series of keys on his end of the long table in the room and the viewers pulled up an image of the hill that was the hidden fortress of the Velokians, Lilly's breath froze. 
"We monitored you emerging from this location, Miss Lowreth." 
Mychel's eyes burned through her. 
Those eyes soon lifted to watch the activity on the screen. That activity sank her heart. 
A nearly-complete circle of Peacekeepers closed ranks with weapons aimed through personal FIZ shields from the generators of special gauntlets they wore. That circle of several hundred closed in on the mound that was the magically- and technologically-hidden ruins of Keigan Castle, the fortress of the Velokians serving Frael Darrac. 
Seconds pounded in her chest. 
And one realization struck like a hammer through glass. She barely contained the rage boiling from within. "You planned this all along!" Her blood ran hot, then cold in dread of what he meant. They monitored everything.
Commandant Renvil stood with the same haughty air that had left her disliking him since the first time they had met. 
The soldiers double-lined where they ran out of room to move shoulder-to-shoulder, until one of them vanished. They had hit the barrier between the outside and inside. It was passable by anyone, but in that remote area of Casanna Province, it was unlikely that anyone would stumble upon it. 
She had led them right to it. This was her fault.  
I'm sorry, Darrac…and all of you who tried to help us. The Velokians weren't evil or dangerous, not like the daemons they served. They were men in search of a purpose, in search of a resurrection of magic, the power that fueled the Shadow Realm. Granted, some sought power to dominate—Harrel came to mind—but many were simply intrigued by the old ways. 
And she had hoped they would teach her. 
The soldier who vanished stepped back from the grassy mound and lifted a fist. The helmeted figure turned aside to another, who gave a nod. 
She could see no expressions behind the black HUD displays covering their faces, but clearly they were communicating. 
After a tense minute, the first soldier paired up with another and, together, they disappeared. More pairs followed until only a single circle surrounded the mound that was Keigan Castle. 
Lilly swallowed, her eyes unwavering on the viewer. Please don't get Saul. Please don't find any of them. Please don't be able to find the secret wall… She could only hope the Velokians stayed behind that magic barrier. They were her only connection to Darrac and the bridge to Fal Oroneth. 
"Would you care to share what my men can expect?" 
"No." She wouldn't give the commandant the satisfaction, and she didn't want to miss anything on the viewer.
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Enlightenment is coming in June 2018!

Read the first book of The Luriel Cycle, Awakening, now...

Amazon (99c)

Barnes and Noble

Also available as a paperback.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt

I present the opening two (unedited) pages of Enlightenment:

On the viewer, a dark cloud coalesced into semi-solid shadows standing two stories high. Monsters from the most horrid nightmares, they flowed like smoke with each movement as if not really there. More than a dozen materialized around the man lying on the ground. Twice as many red eyes glinted with malicious intent. Wings folded to their backs, and tails lashed. 
Lilly saw herself running to cover the weakened and unconscious Darrac, who had shrunk from being one of those monstrosities, his daemon form, to the man she loved. 
Her chest ached to watch the events unfold. Pieces came back to her memory so that, as the light flared to blind the camera, she felt the eruption of desire to defeat the daemons and save Darrac. 
She barely saw the lone pair on the grassy hill through the blur of tears that burned her eyes. She remembered that day. And with it something else that stabbed her—Mychel's betrayal. 
She clamped her teeth on the anger threatening to spew from her mouth. 
"I didn't understand," came a voice from the man beside her. "You were right. You were right about him. He was more." 
Sure, he said that now, but he had been willing to kill her to free the luriel attached to her life. 
The sharp lines of Commandant Renvil's face could have cut Mychel down cleaner than her anger ever could, granting her a small satisfaction. 
"You didn't want to understand." Lilly remembered that much about why she had been reluctant to tell him where she was. It should have been enough that she reassured him she was all right with Darrac. "You should have stayed away." 
Mychel's grimace was small comfort that he felt shame for his actions. He should have thought of that before acting. 
"Miss Lowreth." 
What did he want? The commandant was as much to blame. He must have given Mychel the location of where she had asked to be dropped off in Casanna Province that had led to the loss of Darrac and the hole in her heart. 
"What can you tell us of these…creatures?" 
She'd have a few words with Mychel later. The sooner she finished this interrogation by the Peacekeepers, the sooner she could return to contacting the luriel spirit within her to search for Darrac in the Shadow Realm. 
"Miss Lowreth?" 
"Daemons," she finally answered. 
The heavy sigh of exasperation from the commandant was not unexpected. She hadn't believed in any of this a few cycles ago, until she lived it. 
"Are they a threat?" he asked. 
"They kill to maintain their forms in this realm, this…dimension." Maybe he couldn't accept the term "realm"—mysterious and ancient in a way that described fictional creatures and myths. But dimensions; scientists had debated the existence of other dimensions. "They're from another dimension with…different energy, different time. Because of that, they can't simply exist here. They need to absorb our energy." She swept her arm around to encompass all of Ahlias. "They need that to maintain their form here, otherwise they are only strong in their own dimension. 
"That's why…she took him." Darrac wasn't from the Gray Realm. His injuries had been too severe. 
But he might have recovered with the bridge in his fortress, if he'd had that chance. 
"Who took…I assume you mean Darrac was the other man that was with you?" 
"Yes. His mother took him back to the Shadow Realm. Our medicine can't heal them, like our weapons can't hurt them." 
The Peacekeepers had been watching everything. It would stand to reason that the Eternals also had their own way of observing. 
Lilly stared at the last image still frozen on the viewer—her lying unconscious over Darrac and Mychel sitting by them. If the Peacekeepers had that recorded, they must have had everything on their carrier recorded. Everything…including the scenes of her life and Mychel's life before his Awakening. 
Another realization struck. They weren't the only ones involved. 
Her breath froze—The magi! 
She would have time to worry about them later. She could check in once she was free from the Peacekeepers. 
Now, he wanted to know about Darrac.
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Enlightenment is coming in June 2018!

Read the first book of The Luriel Cycle, Awakening, now...

Amazon (99c)

Barnes and Noble

Also available as a paperback.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Horsing around with my little Buddy

I've been going out to see my boy regularly all winter, although I haven't ridden him since late October or early November. With all the snow and ice we've had on the ground, he's been enjoying time in the arena, where he doesn't have to worry about slipping. Today he was a little more reserved than he has been but still enjoyed stretching his legs.

Two months ago, I started supplementing him with Vitamin E and then Smartgut and Aloe Vera pellets from Smartpak and he's really blossomed for me and has been feeling especially good. The pressure points indicating ulcers are much less touchy, in fact hardly at all anymore, and his stools are always formed and he doesn't poop all the time like he used to. It's made a world of difference for him.

At one point in the video, I comment about him looking sore going one direction. He's usually the opposite, but he could have some muscle soreness from bad footing (deep snow) in the pasture or from his habit of being tight in his poll and jaw, which I also work out with a little massage and myofascial release when I take off his halter. He could also need chiropractic work, but these little issues tend to work out themselves with him by the next time I see him. No worries.

I can't wait to start riding again, but in the meantime, I bring him in to stretch his legs on some solid footing and then do some in-hand lateral and natural horsemanship work. We'll start lunging soon under saddle and getting back to work.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Kindle ebook giveaway

Sign up beginning on March 7 (Wednesday) on Goodreads to win a copy of Awakening (The Luriel Cycle, Book 1) for your kindle. Since I can't make the price free, this is the next best thing (except that I have to pay to give copies away).

To get a free copy from any other retailer, visit or click on the link below this page's banner for "The Luriel Cycle".

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Books and cats

Books and cats, and books and cats, and...

That was my attempt at playing on this post and turning it into beat boxing.

Not happening, huh?

Never mind, then. I'll get to the point.

I've been working hard to finish Eternal, the third of The Luriel Cycle trilogy. I finished the first draft of Enlightenment last fall, did major edits at that time, and then began writing Eternal. When I'm done with this first draft, I'll go back to Enlightenment and make the final edits. I hope to release Enlightenment in June of this year with Eternal following up in August or September.

Then...I don't know what I'll do. Maybe go back to one of my other works. I'm surprised by the requests I've had recently for a sequel to Legend of the White Dragon. However, I really want to return to my characters on the fictional world of Derandria. I could also return to more Starfire stories, or I could start something totally new. I'm not sure where my muse will take me. I live in the moment of whatever story idea grabs me when I'm available to write it.

Until then, I'm enjoying the lessons of the Shadow Realm with Lilly and the other characters of The Luriel Cycle stories. The drama is done and she's been on the run to reach Darrac, making new allies and confronting old enemies.

I am hoping to finish the first draft of Eternal by tax day. With my part-time job, family responsibilities, animals to care for, and taking care of myself, writing doesn't always happen at the pace I'd like.

When I'm writing, I usually end up with a cat or two on and/or next to me. Many of my pictures end up on my instagram account @melanienilles_author, but not always ...

I almost never get anything done when this big boy crawls
onto my lap and makes himself comfortable!

Love snuggling with Jack,
our other big boy,
although he looks small at this angle.

Jack, in a box

Hubby and I with all four cats 

Three cats on me!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

thoughts on prayer

As a person of faith in an almighty creator, I have to say one thing to those who deny the power of prayer. God doesn't stop bullets or prevent bad things from happening, at least not in a reactive way. He gave us free will and two hands to make tools and choices. But prayer is for the spirit, an adjunct to the physical being. It is not to be taken separately as a physical "tool". Rather, it is meant as a tool for the spirit and heart.

To those who have no faith, you are missing the point. It has been proven scientifically that prayer can help people recovering from illness or injury more quickly and keep people alive longer who are otherwise terminal. Psychology Today reported on this here. You can read about a study from NIH here.

The power of prayer lies in the hope and peace it brings. These have been known to increase brain chemistry for the positive, decrease stress, and help provide a balance in the body that is healing. Belief in a loving God also provides a positive influence for those who truly have the word of God in their hearts (not the hypocrites who say one thing but live another or who judge others when it is only God's place to judge us, nor the extremists who have forsaken the true word of God in the name of selfishness and distorted the teachings of true love and forgiveness.)

In a world where humans are increasingly rejecting God or at least the teachings to love one another, it's no surprise that we are seeing more violence. Perhaps if we all came together in unity and prayer instead of wallowing in self-righteousness and arguing, our world would be a better place.

Don't deny the power of prayer. Many times, miracles have happened because someone believed. The energy we create because of our beliefs and actions can be used for good or bad. It's up to each of us to decide. If generating positive energy comes from prayer, it ought to be embraced and shared.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

life is full of plot holes

I like some movies that maybe weren't popular in their genres and probably scored low or moderate on Rotten Tomatoes. I think about reviewers saying how bad the plot holes are, plot holes that I tend to overlook that really aren't too obvious, or a deus ex machina.

Some movies and books make me hate them for the plot holes, but then there are usually so many problems with the characters and plots in general that I can't overlook them because nothing works.

And then I realized something--some things that seem like plot holes really are not. In fact, they are more true to life than a perfectly explained and wrapped up logical plot. Let me explain...

Something looks like a plot hole because it isn't explained or not foreshadowed or contradicts what has been established. Entertainment is about drama and luring us in with emotions, allowing us to see and feel something other than our own daily routine. But entertainment comes from certain perspectives. Books allow us into characters minds but is still a limited perspective. It is based on a character's interpretations of events and other characters, or even the writer's/director's perspective (what the writer or director wants the reader to think). They are limited, just like our real-life experiences are limited.

Not all plot holes are plot holes but are, rather, simply misdirection, lack of information, or wrong interpretation. Unless we're omniscient or telepathic, we can't know everything--thoughts, purposes, emotions, plots, etc.--all of the time. That's what a story is about. It's the not knowing that keeps us reading/watching with these stories, continuing to find out what happens and where it all leads (climax and denouement).

And a clever writer/director can play with that.

In real life, we can't anticipate everything. There are certain predictable factors, but not always and not everything. Sometimes, something isn't what it appears to be or something happens that we didn't know could happen. For that factor, life is full of plot holes. It doesn't make sense, but when something happens to us without any explanation, we can't deny it, because we lived through it.

Ever experience something that fits the phrase "too crazy to be real" or something like it? Sometimes that's how life works--unexplained phenomena that totally don't make sense given our unique experiences or anything established previously.

Well, I say life is full of plot holes and surprises, and I think that's why so many of us can overlook the minor issues in fictional stories. And there really is a "God in the Machine" (Deus Ex Machina).