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!