Reaping the Harvest

(originally posted at The Mess That Is Me - March 2013)

I’m nervous as hell. My friend, Stephanie Neighbour, compared it to a new dad in a waiting room. It’s exactly like that. I’m trying to focus on other projects, but honestly, my mind is a fluttering mess just like my stomach. This is my first work of this size to be sent out into a fickle world. Circle of Justice, a dramatic short story, went out last year. I was nervous then. I’m a nervous wreck now. I’d chew my fingernails, but they’re already gone.

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Reaping the Harvest is the first in my Warrior of the Way series. It wasn’t until I wrote Reaping the Harvest that I even knew I was going to write a fantasy series based on Rhychard Bartlett and the Guardian Sword. Actually, Reaping was originally titled Warrior of the Way and was a 4,800-word short story. I wrote it in a week, stuffed it in a manila folder, and left it at the bottom of my desk. Forgotten.

It wasn’t until four years later that I pulled it back out and realized that as a short story it really sucked. It left out too much important information and just seemed like a rushed plotline. However, it could very easily stretch into a great novella. I wasn’t ready to go novel length just yet. My son thinks it’s still too short and I’m sure I could have kept going. Being my first release, I wasn’t wanting to stretch beyond what I knew I was ready to achieve, so I stopped it where it resides now. I chopped the short story into nine sections and then I added a few new characters, some subplots, and twelve more chapters. I also hit the books.

A trip to Barnes & Noble found me in the New Age and Astrology sections snatching up books on fairies, demons, magic and Celtic traditions. I read folklore as well as books on mythology. I wanted to see what people already believed about what I was wanting to write, because even in fiction there is truth. I also wanted something more than the 8-year-old’s Tinkerbell movies.

I stuck with some of the common beliefs in some areas, adopted some ancient spelling of words, such as faerie instead of fairy, and then took my creative license with what I needed for a series. During this time, I was reading books about craft, platform, and marketing. The Mess was starting to take off and I increased the amount of posts to five per week. Furthermore, I was outlining and writing on four other projects, so there was plenty on my To Do List. Of course, with all of the writing activity, there was also Life to deal with and that alone can keep one busy.

In November of last year after three sets of revisions, I was finally finished with the novella and passed it off to my editors-in-residence. Originally, I had set the release date as December 31, 2012. However, I had forgotten about the holidays and how busy that time of year made us. There was no way the girls were going to finish in time.

I didn’t want the girls to rush through their edits, so I pulled the date and began working on other projects. Losing Faith was four chapters away from its first draft being finished, which left plenty to keep me occupied while they utilized their red pens. Plus, people were giving me plenty of blog fodder for my wheels to always be spinning. Eventually, they finished marking up my pages with red ink and I was able to give it some fine tuning. From there, it went to one more editor, Katie, who hadn’t lived with it for the past few months and had a fresh pair of eyes. I was shocked at the periods I had forgotten to put at the end of a few sentences.

The night it was handed to me, we were out to dinner with a small group of friends. As soon as my fingers touched the paper, I started flipping through it right there at the dinner table. I was curious as to how many red marks had covered the typed pages. Amazingly enough, there were very few. I couldn’t wait to get it home and put the final spit polish on it.

Once home, however, it just sat on my desk. Fear forced other projects to consume my time. If I had finished the edits, I would have to move on to the formatting. Then it would have no reason not to be published. It’s what I had wanted since ninth grade, but was I actually ready for it? What if it wasn’t good enough? I’ve read some indie books where I couldn’t make it past the first chapter because there were so many elementary school errors. I didn’t want to be that person. Indies get a bad enough rap as it is. I didn’t want to fuel the negativity. I’m not perfect. I know my weak areas. That’s why I had four people read over Reaping the Harvest. I wanted them to catch my blunders before the world saw them.

Finally, I realized I had talked about the book long enough. It was time to put my money where my mouth was and finish it. I set another release date and set to work. Yesterday was that date.

Reaping the Harvest is about Rhychard Bartlett, an average man who becomes drafted into the battle between those of the Way and those of the Void. It’s a war about motives as the Guardian and the Seelie faeries strive to keep the Destroyer and the Unseelie from destroying the earth. Rhychard is made a Warrior of the Way against his wishes and must now join the battle he knew nothing about. He is joined by Tryna, a two foot ellyll with a habit of popping in and out, and Kree, a mind-speaking coshey, which is an elven hound that looks like a giant silver wolf, but moves like a lion. Oh, and he’s the size of a bear. Together, they try to match wits with the demon, Vargas, and stop whatever plan he has for Harvest Fellowship.

When I first wrote the short story, I just wanted to write a modern fantasy tale with a sword and elves. Simple? Yes, but that’s all I had in mind. However, as I stretched it into the novella, I wanted to show that not everything is as we first see it. Actions in and of themselves don’t necessarily make people good or bad. It’s what’s in their hearts, their motives. People are too quick to judge what they don’t understand. We need to think outside of the stereotypes. That’s why I made a hooker a heroine and the pastor a villain. Not everything is as we see it or what we are taught to believe. It’s a message I think the world needs.

So Reaping the Harvest is out. Soon it will be in print form, as well, to the delight of my son, Zac. I’m excited and nervous, because you never know how anything created with your heart will be received. I hope you check it out, but even more I hope you take something of the Way with you when you read it. Our world needs less judgment, and more acceptance.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!

On his way home from a moving job, Rhychard Bartlett heard a scream and ran to help. That action changed his life forever and tossed him into a war between the Way and the Void. Given the Guardian Sword, assisted by an ellyll who only stands two feet tall, and bonded to a mind speaking coshey the size of a Newfoundland canine and a taste for pepperoni pizza, Rhychard must stop the demon Vargas from carrying out his plans. Once he finds out what they are, of course. In the meantime, he longs for the girlfriend who left him because he suddenly had too many secrets. Not only must he save the day, but he also must convince Renny Saunders he's not the cheating lover everyone thinks he is.

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