A #SampleSunday post of Raven Grace - My #Steampunk Novella

Chapter 1
Human life is of value.
The rich man living in a Manor is no more valuable than the poor living in the gutter.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
A Reaper must redeem each and every life he takes.

Raven Grace stepped off the walkway onto the cobblestone street to avoid the post of a gaslight lamp standing in her way.  The crowd in front of a street vender wouldn’t part for her, and she didn’t feel like elbowing through this time. Used to the whispers and stares, she winked at a pinch-faced woman with cottony hair who looked Raven up and down with disapproval. Even in the city, a woman in breeches instead of a skirt was just not acceptable. Or maybe it was the crossbow snapped to the magnets on the back of her corset.
New Haven boasted of a modern environment, dominated by foot traffic and more automated horses than flesh ones. Three to four story buildings stacked together like books on a shelf to both sides of the brownstone street. Merchants peddled their wares from carts, occasionally pushed by automatons to draw interest. Outside of carriage drivers, the general population had little to do with the shiny metal, clockwork robots otherwise.  Though it’s heard they are frequent among the zeppelin-living high society.
She pushed away a black curl as it fell into her eyes when she lowered her head and skipped up the steps toward the bridge. Only a day’s journey still stood between her and Greg’s house, and this time she’s not injured. She smiled to herself as she imagined the look of surprise on his face. She might just tell him she loves him this time.
A scream pierced the air, and she furrowed her brows. A polished brass automated horse barreled toward the bridge from the opposite side. The eerie sound of scraping metal set Raven’s teeth on edge. Steam poured from the nostrils of the metal horse and leaked from its joints in an unnatural way. The black lacquer carriage it pulled careened on two wheels, threatening to tip through the turn before righting itself.  A metal coachman in the driver’s seat was headless and rendered useless. 
Raven jumped to the railing, moving out of the way of the stampeding crowd as they raced toward her to evade the mayhem. She gripped the lamppost as time trickled to a crawl. Her Reaper instincts kicked in, and she scanned the area to take in every detail.  The door to the carriage sat open and banging on the side of the black lacquered frame. Though she couldn’t see the occupant, a shadow told of only one.  With a sudden jerk left, the horse charged for the railing, and the oak boards splintered apart as though they were balsa wood.
In a quick, natural motion, Raven unsnapped her crossbow and felt through the quiver on her side for the right bolt for her bow.  Pulling the wire from her belt’s winch, she hooked it to the arrow, pointed it at the wooden post of the gas lamp standing closest to the carriage, and pulled the trigger.
For a moment, the heavy metal horse hung over the edge as the carriage wedged between the parts of broken railing. The horse’s metal legs still poured steam as they struggled in the air. Gouges raked along the black side as the carriage inched its way toward the rim. The door stuck in the closed position. Two small hands pressed against the window.  As the door made it past the railing and the hands pushed it open, the body of a young boy tumbled out. He held the door handle with his fingertips. A gasp and a few screams filled the air behind her.
A female voice shrieked, “It’s the young duke.”
 Adrenaline pumped through her veins as Raven made the leap. The wind blew through her long hair as she reached for the falling carriage. It broke free from the bridge a moment before she reached it. She pressed the button on her winch to release more line, and grabbed the boy in a full embrace just before they hit the water.  As the line reached the end, her body jerked to a stop submerged, and the boy’s forehead struck her in the temple. The saltwater burned her eyes, and stars dance in her vision. Bubbles of air escaped her lips in a moan.
The boy was unconscious. She gripped him with her right arm and hit the rewind lever on her winch with her left.  Streaks of her black hair stuck to her face as she broke the surface of the water. The winch pulled her toward the bridge, and the crowd above began clapping. Gasping, Raven raised an eyebrow. Was this a show for their pleasure?
With a squish in her black boots, she pushed off a tarred pylon to make it over the lip of the bridge without the cable pulling them against the railing.  The winch slowed as it neared the top. Raven reached up with her left hand and grabbed the crossbow bolt. With a flick of her thumb, she depressed the lever that caused the grappling hooks to withdraw, and replaced it in her quiver. A slow zipping sound continued as the winch on her belt drew in the cable. Hands from the crowd pulled the boy from her grasp, and she let them. She blinked the water from her eyes, her vision still blurred. Four armed guards and one skinny man in a bowtie surrounded the boy she’d hauled to the surface. The guards held back the crowd.
With a sputter and a cough, the boy wretched water from his lungs. Raven smiled, glad the boy made it. She attempted to step toward him, but she was stopped with a vice-like grip. Her fingertips twitched; ready to grab the knife on her hip and fight her way out, if necessary. She looked up and studied the hard faces of the two guards holding her. She considered smacking one in the jaw with the back of her head, but considered the surrounding crowd.  She made a count of the collateral damage and clenched her jaw. She needed no more lives to redeem herself for. With a deep sigh, she remained still.
The man in the bowtie had the wet boy pulled to his chest.  Cold blue eyes met hers as he pointed and said, “Arrest her.”

Thanks for reading! Do you think you'd be enticed into reading more? If so, I may consider editing it and posting as I go along as a serial fiction of the novella. Leave a comment if you'd be interested! 

Who Does Your Writing Nurture?

For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14) 

As an author, when you take up your pen (or sit at your keyboard) you are writing for an audience. You become a teacher. Great teachers are storytellers, whether they speak, write fiction or nonfiction, paint, or even sculpt. Sometimes the platform of fiction will touch a reader in a far greater way, or help the reader to understand a truth they would have otherwise missed.

But are you preaching to the choir? Does your word fall on deaf ears?

Christian fiction can usually be split into two sorts: the kind written for encouraging the brethren, and the kind to spark conviction or interest in an unbeliever. But almost never does it do both. Why? It’s the difference between milk and meat. A baby cannot eat meat, and an adult can only take so much milk.

 So be honest with yourself as you read and reread your work. Who are you writing for? Who is your audience? Make sure that you focus on your target audience the most and write that which would appeal to them. This is our best way of honoring the One we point to, and getting our word across.

A Little Snippet

Today I added 2005 words to my Steampunk novella, Raven Grace - The Reaper. Or the title will be something like that when it's finished. She's a Reaper - a bodyguard, assassin, and general bada**. But she's ready to give it all up for the love of her life. 
Today I added a few flashbacks and made my character face her past and her motivations. Time is running out for her; she's injured and bleeds to death on a bed of leaves in the forest. This is a flashback she's having while she waits for help:
“I don’t see why you have to go.” Greg’s green eyes pleaded with her, his eyebrows furrowed.
Raven couldn’t help but smile at his bare wrists and ankles. He’d grown too fast over the summer, and hadn’t gotten to New Haven for new clothes. She had to look up into his face now, and watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed his sadness. She tried to smile as she said, “I’ll be back as much as often as I can, but this is something I have to do.”
“School is starting next week. Doesn’t your dad want you to go?”
“This is more important. It would be our last year of school, anyway. You need to concentrate on your studies so you can go to University. I’ve always been a distraction for you.” Her voice softened and her throat grew tight. “Your mom says so.”
“I don’t care.” Greg wrapped his long arms around her and put his forehead on hers.
She closed her eyes and said, “I do.”
Their foreheads rubbed together as he shook his head. His voice cracked. “You always come back from these trips injured.”
She half-laughed at the truth of it. Every time they returned from a mission, she had a new wound. “Someday I’ll stop being a Reaper and marry you.”
“Someday can’t come soon enough.”

WINNERS of John316 Blog Hop Announced!

The Hop was a huge success, drawing in new readers and followers to each of the over 50 blogs this week.  The John 316 Marketing Network gave away 2 Kindles to entrants:


And here at my blog, I gave away over 20 copies of my books, and the winner of 3 ebooks from my top books of 2011 is...Glenda K.! Congratulations Glenda.

Thank you to all my new fans and followers - I hope to be a blessing in your lives!

Review of Wool by Hugh Howey

Review first published at Readers' Realm

 Dystopian fiction is at the height of popularity, even if it has been around for decades.  The term comes from a play on the word "utopia" coined by Thomas More. Dystopia is a society that claims to be perfect, fair and equal, but in reality offers regression and a controlled state. In fiction, the dystopian society is often characterized by overcrowding, oppression, human misery, and squalor.

 Most popular right now among teens and young adults, the dystopian genre is dominated by The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Giver, a Newberry Award Winner, and The City of Ember (series) offers dystopian reads for the Middle Grade set. Among adult books, this genre tends toward a post-apocalyptic, horror type read, often with zombies in the population.
Then along came Wool. Hugh Howey originally wrote this short fiction in 12,000 words, 60 pages, and never intended the story to become the phenomenon that it has. Readers clamored for more, and it spawned a five part serial of shorts. As a series, it has sold over 100,000 copies since its publication in summer of 2011 , and 20th Century Fox is now optioning it for a movie.

I read the first story in this series out of curiosity for the hype (before the movie deal ramped the hype more). My expectations were low, considering that the writer is self-published, and popular fiction can sometimes be too artsy or go over my head. Imagine my shock when I found purposeful prose, mesmerizing characters, and a story with more twists than you’d expect in sixty pages. As a Christian, I can say that this was a clean read, and one that leads to thinking and introspection.

There are few writers of whom I can say “I want to write like that when I grow up.” On that list are Poe, Hemingway, Wilde, and Koontz – after reading Wool, it now contains Howey. 

The first story in this series is only 99 cents on kindle, perfect if you just want to dip your toes in this ocean of prose. Or if you’re ready to make the full commitment, Howey offers the omnibus of all five stories in the Wool dystopian universe. Then again, you could always... 


HOP on in!

Welcome to the 1st John 3:16 Giveaway Blog Hop! As one of the members of this great network of Christian Authors, I am excited to participate in this event! We have come together this week to showcase our books and to give you, our readers, a chance to win some great prizes as you "hop" from blog to blog. A different prize is offered at each blog site (no purchase necessary), however if you want to have a chance to win one of two Kindles the network is giving away, the only requirement is that you sign up for the John 3:16 ezine newsletter. (Located at the top right side column of the John 3:16 blog site.)

(See official rules here.)

 At the other blogs, each author will require that you leave a comment (and a valid email address) so they may contact you if you win a prize offered on their blog site. May I also suggest that you show your love and appreciation to each blog host by either following them on Twitter, or "liking" them on Facebook or even subscribing to their blog. It won't help your odds of winning a prize but I know each author would be thrilled and very encouraged!


Leave a comment with your email in this format Name(at)email(dot)com -
The First 10 to leave their email will receive these 2 KINDLE FORMAT Books!! 
 And use the RAFFLECOPTER on my side bar to be entered to win 
3 of my top 10 books of 2011 in Kindle Format:
(IF you already own any of the books above, let me know
 and we'll find another from my titles or my top 10 books of 2011 of comparable value!)

So tell your friends about the John 3:16 Giveaway Blog Hop! It's going to be a great week of fun! Just click on the links below to go from blog to blog! Happy hoppin'! Blog Hop Participants:
  1. Lorilyn Roberts (John 3:16 Blog)http://john316mn.blogspot.com/
  2. Lynn DoveWord Salt (Host blog) - http://wordsalt.wordpress.com/
  3. Laura J. Davis - http://interviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/
  4. Paulette Harper - http://www.pauletteharperjohnson.blogspot.com/
  5. Carol A. Brown - http://connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com/
  6. April Gardner - http://www.aprilwgardner.com/
  7. Sue Russellhttp://www.suerussellsblog.blogspot.com/
  8. Thomas Blubaugh - http://tomblubaugh.net/
  9. Susan F. Crafthttp://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com/
  10. Heather Bixlerhttp://heatherbixler.com/
  11. Joy Hannabasshttp://splashesofjoy.wordpress.com/
  12. Deborah Bateman - http://www.DeborahHBateman.com
  13. Kimberley Payne - http://www.fitforfaith.blogspot.com/
  14. Rose McCauleyhttp://www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com
  15. Lisa Lickel - http://livingourfaithoutloud.blogspot.com/
  16. Alice J. Wisler - http://www.alicewisler.blogspot.com/
  17. Amanda Stephan - http://www.thepriceoftrust.com/
  18. Saundra Daltonhttp://gracetolivefree.blogspot.com/
  19. Tracy Krauss - http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/
  20. Ashley Wintters - http://ashleyschristianbookreviews.blogspot.com/
  21. Deborah McCarragher - http://www.godmissionpossible.blogspot.com/
  22. Lorilyn Roberts - http://lorilynroberts.blogspot.com/
  23. Anita Estes - http://anita-thoughtsonchristianity.blogspot.com/
  24. Martin Rothhttp://www.military-orders.com
  25. Kenneth Wintershttp://www.lostcrownofcolonnade.com/
  26. Eddie Snipeshttp://www.eddiesnipes.com/
  27. Diane Tatum - http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/
  28. Janalyn Voigt - http://janalynvoigt.com/
  29. Alberta Sequeirahttp://www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com/
  30. Tammy Hill – http://tammyhillbooks.blogspot.com/p/blog-hop.html
  31. Marcia Laycockhttp://www.writer-lee.blogspot.com/
  32. Nike Chillemi - http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/
  33. Elaine Marie Cooper - http://wp.me/PVo1a-1vM
  34. Sidney W. Frost - http://christianbookmobile.blogspot.ca/2012/05/welcome-to-john-316-giveaway-blog-hop.html
  35. Jairus B. Kinghttp://ministerjking.blogspot.com
  36. Bill Burt - http://kotbooks.blogspot.com/
  37. Kathy Eberly - http://authorkathyeberly.blogspot.com/
  38. Bob Saffrin - http://bobsaffrin.com/
  39. Theresa Franklin - http://theresa-lifesjourney.blogspot.com/
  40. Ray Lincoln - http://blog.raywlincoln.com/
  41. Lilly Maytree - http://www.lillymaytree.blogspot.com/
  42. Yvonne Pat Wright - http://www.spicetoeternity.co.uk/1/post/2012/05/come-blog-hopping-with-john-316-marketing-network-members-for-gifts-and-prizes.html
  43. Pauline Creeden - http://fatfreefaith.blogspot.com/
  44. Katherine Harms - http://livingontilt.wordpress.com
  45. Brenda Wood - http://heartfeltdevotionals.wordpress.com/
  46. Deborah Malone - http://deborahsbutterflyjourney.blogspot.com/
  47. Melissa Mainhttp://www.mainwriters.com/
  48. Kevin Main - http://mainchristianbooks.com/
  49. Sandy Humphrey - http://www.kidscandoit.com/blog/
  50. Felice Gerwitz - http://www.writingandpublishingblog.com/
  51. Hallee Bridgeman - http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee
  52. Lisa Mills - http://www.authorlisamills.com/blog/
And don't forget to leave a comment here before you HOP ON! :)