Happy New Year!

Le ChatHappy New Year to you and yours! 2013 has seen the birth and growth of FreeValley Publishing, and we thank you so much for coming here to stay up on events, new releases and share stories with us!

We hope you’ll be back often in 2014 to see what’s new and contribute your stories to share on our home page. You can write to us at FreeValleyPublishing@gmail.com

All the best!

-Sheri J. Kennedy, Editor

Brief Mention of My Advertising Plan

Some fun and interesting thoughts on promotion for authors from Charles Yallowitz. Reblogged with Permission. Thanks, Charles!

Legends of Windemere

I haven’t done a post about my path as an indie author for a while, so this will be detailed.  These are typically filled with explanations of my experience.  Truthfully, things have been tame since the release of Prodigy of Rainbow Tower in August.  With the December release of Allure of the Gypsies, things have taken on an interesting pattern.  I’ve been slowly evolving my advertising sphere with pricier things when I have the royalties to afford it.  So, I will say now that part of this plan requires spending money.  If you don’t have royalties then possibly save up a fund of about $100 at first.  It’s lead me to my current system, which I’ll share by explaining the stages.

First, some things to consider here:

  1. These stages were spread out from February to now.
  2. You can always adjust it depending on your available funds.
  3. This involves a…

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An Evening of Stories – Live at The Black Dog

If you enjoy the stories posted here at FVP, make plans to come out and see us! 

FreeValley Publishing’s authors will be at The Black Dog in Snoqualmie, WA on January 23, 2014 6-7:30pm for a Meet the Author’s event. Our authors will read excerpts from their published works and give short commentary on different aspects of self-publishing. We will then be available to chat and sign books for you.

This is in league with local chap book makers who will also have works available that evening. Paul Green will play Jazz at 7:30 onward, so you can make it a complete entertainment outing. Come an see us!

blackdogbannercropClick on banner above for calendar and location information.

Holiday Bazaar – A Fun Day!

Six of our authors enjoyed the day talking with our community and selling books and collector’s gift packages at our Si View Community Center Holiday Bazaar on December 7th.

Thanks to all those who came out to see and support us! We hope you and yours are delighted by the good reads you purchased to keep or give for the holidays!

Here’s a couple photos. You can see more on the Holiday Bazaar Event Page.

Last Measure of Hope

Last Measure of Hope photoIt was a grey and drizzly Seattle night—again—and even Hope wanted to slump in the corner of a cozy café and nurse an extra-hot latte’.  But she pulled herself up and patrolled the steely, damp oppression of the December evening.  The sun had provided no warmth, no spark of joy today, and Hope was unwelcomed everywhere she had gone.  Nevertheless, she continued to dog the steps of Despair.

Despair was so full he was nearly sated.  The ubiquitous downpour had seeped into the souls of the city.  Heads were down, umbrellas hunkered in tight.  Hoods hid any glimpse of a friendly face.  Despair roared with chilling laughter and strolled the streets drinking in signs of anguish and ruin.

Hope couldn’t take it anymore.  As she weakened, Despair pounced on her with his scaly claws trying to take her down.  She careened through the streets, grabbing for any morsel of light or good cheer, unable to shake free from his clutches or throw him off her back.  The final flicker of sunlight drained from the sky.  Hope floundered and was driven face first into the frigid, filth of the street.  She was shocked into fury—something akin to righteous anger—and she threw her arms out to transfer the last measure of Hope to whomever she could see with some light in their eyes.

A young woman leaning on a street lamp gave off a subtle glow from beneath her hood.  Hope transferred the energy, giving the girl powers that to a mortal would seem magical.  The girl shifted from one foot to the other in her heavy boots and lifted her disheartened face. She noticed the struggling radiance of the moon shrouded in clouds overhead, and felt strangely encouraged.  She wished it would come out into a clearing and was amazed when the curtain of the storm parted to give her a view.

Hope failed and left the fate of the world to the unknown human girl.

Jessica stepped onto the bus and threw back her soggy hood.  The bus was nearly full, and the packed-in denizens of gloom gave her a chill.  She imagined the tropical sun of Jamaica from her last vacation and yearned for its warmth.  The bus’ heat rose in glorious waves from the vents along the walls, welcoming her fingers out of their gloves.  In all the time she’d ridden the forty-four bus, Jessica had never felt a breath of heat from the bucket of bolts.  It was uncanny.  She glanced around and saw heads pop up like spring blossoms as the blissful warmth brought people out of their polar shells.

The bus was quiet—isolating the crowd.  She wished for the hum of pleasant conversation to take the edge off her loneliness.  The bus began to buzz with stories and gentle exchanges.  Jessica giggled and shook her head, sure it was just a coincidence.  The heat surged along with her amusement.  She let herself wonder.  Maybe she could make things better—maybe everything she wished could come true.

Jessica imagined what she would choose if she could change the world…less rain.  The deluge stopped for the first time in several days.  Or, it isn’t really the rain that’s the problem, it’s the dreary, closed in clouds.  The mist lifted and the spirit of the city lifted with it.  A soft rain dropped from high clouds—the kind that refreshed the earth and encouraged growth.

The brightly lit sign for the noodle café caught her eye, and Jessica hopped up to ring the bell for the stop.   As she stumped into the café with her excessively waterproof boots, she hoped they would have the Thai noodle special she liked.  She had to wait to be seated while the hostess finished erasing and rewriting the special—Thai noodles 3.99.

“Unreal,” Jessica whispered to herself as she was lead to her favorite table by the window and the heater.  “Can I please get the special and a Thai iced tea?” she asked the hostess.

“Oh, sure, the special is good.”  The woman smiled.  “But we are out of Thai iced tea tonight.  I’m so sorry.”

“Um,” Jessica was filled with caprice.  “Could you…well, I wouldn’t normally ask…but could you double check on the Thai iced tea?  I was really craving some…if you could just look again.”

“Okay, sure.  I’ll check.  Why not?”

Jessica gazed out at the soft rain catching the light from a street lamp.  She saw a stooped-over man shuffle to a stop and shore up his belongings.  He appeared homeless.  Her heart went out to him.  She wondered if he was hungry and wished she could give him some food.  He walked toward the door.  Jessica jumped around and focused on drinking her glass of water.  He came to stand by her, looking bewildered.

“Sorry to bother you, ma’am.  I thought I heard you call my name.”  His brow furrowed, and he walked back to the door—awkward with humiliation.

She longed to ease him.  “Eddie, isn’t it?”

He turned to her.  “My nickname, yes.  So you did call me in.”

She was flustered.  Co-incidence was becoming a stretch to explain all of this.  “Yeah…um…I wanted to buy you dinner.”

“I don’t remember you.” He stated without emotion.

“That’s okay.  You don’t have to talk to me or anything.  Sit where you like.  Enjoy…No strings attached.”

Eddie smiled, and his gold tooth flashed, making Jessica smile too.  She loved gold teeth—a strange quirk, but true.  He sat down and gathered his things by the other window.

When the waitress came out with a tall glass of Thai iced tea, Jessica laughed right out loud. 

The waitress looked at her delighted face and laughed too.  “How did you know?” she asked.

“It’s magic.” Jessica’s grin shone with Hope’s pure light.

The waitress lit up and turned to Eddie.  Her laughter faded to a nervous smile.  “Can I help you, sir?”

“He’s on my tab,” Jessica assured.

Eddie cracked a full smile, and the woman relaxed when she saw the joy in his face.  His tooth gleamed with his pleasure. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

By the time they were slurping their last noodles, Eddie and Jessica were chatting away.  She learned that hard times were not new to him.  He was a refugee from the Congo.  Haunting faces from the crisis in Rwanda came back to her from the six o’clock news.  As she heard the heart-wrenching story of the fragmenting of his family, she wished she could give him her new-found happy-magic. 

“It was wonderful to meet you Eddie,” Jessica said sincerely, as she pulled her coat close.

He nodded and met her blue eyes with the deep brown of his own.  His gold tooth glinted as he turned to go, leaving her warmed and content under the rain-washed sky where she waited for her bus home.

Eddie felt a level of energy that far exceeded the power of noodles.  He could sense the life in his veins and decided to walk to the square and find some men that he knew.  He avoided company, but tonight he felt connected to the world again.

He held his head high and looked up to see a line of silver moonlight painting the edge of the receding storm front.  The moon pierced his soul with memory.  He began to sing a tune that his mama had taught him when he was a boy.

Some young punks were tussling on the sidewalk ahead.  A nightly ritual of ‘beat down to man up’. 

“Quit fighting, boys.  It’s a good night.” Eddie called out.  He was surprised to hear his own voice shout words of peace.  The boys looked surprised too, but they shied away from their skirmish and wandered away in the same direction as Eddie was headed.  In a few more strides, he caught up to them.

“What business is it of yours what we do?” one of them started.  But there was no point to his barb.

“No business.  Only pleasure,” Eddie gave them a glittering grin.  “The storm has gone away.”

The youngsters fell back into the shadows along a building letting Eddie continue on his way.  When he glimpsed back, they were laughing with each other, bathed in the light of the moon.

Eddie’s arrival at the square found the usual idle hubbub of street folks claiming their places for the night.  During the slow motion ritual he noticed the cold weight of Despair dampening the strength of young men and squelching the spirits of women who would have shined with beauty.  He could sense their vigor and their light.  It was as if the sun lived in his eyes.  He wanted to warm these people—to remove the oppression.

Eddie tried something he hadn’t done since he was a teen—he touched someone by choice.  “Maria,” he spoke, as his hesitant hand came to rest on her shoulder.  “Take heart.” He smiled gently.  He saw her movements become relaxed rather than burdened.  When he continued on his way, he caught her eye, and it followed his finger to the beaming orb above.

“Luna,” she sighed with contentment.

He made his way around to the other side of the brick plaza, gaining momentum as his spirit caught the fire of the magical night.  “Joseph,” he spoke as his hand reassured his brother-of-the-heart, patting his back through the rain slicker and damp wool. 

The two men had walked so many miles together that the touch conveyed it all.  Joseph looked into Eddie’s eyes and threw his head back in a howl of joyous laughter under the watching moon.

The raucous sound caught the humor of Mario and Julio, and they joined in with choppy guffaws.  Old John snickered with a snort.  Graeme and Quincy burst out in school boy giggles at the geezer’s weeze, and Jenny, Mona and Ellie answered with a chorus of laughter.  The mood crossed the square until every mouth smiled, every belly jiggled and every eye crinkled with glee.  Eddie topped it all with a hearty chuckle that carried sweet music to Hope’s encumbered ear.

Despair’s grip quaked as Hope’s radiance returned to her.  The spirit of laughter lifted her from the cold pavement throwing Despair’s oppression back into the fleeting shadows.  She soared toward the moon on the lightness of being that shone from the souls united in the square.  And Hope spread her bright abundance on the warmed December night.

by Sheri J. Kennedy aka Kennedy J. Quinn, Featured Author    Published with Permission   Image by Sheri J. Kennedy from THE Companion BOOK to Essence Churning, Sketchbook Project 2011    -Note- Hope’s Charm for this story is: Laughter

Spotlight on Collector’s Gift Packages

Five of our Authors will have 6 Collector’s Gift Packages available for their publications at the Holiday Bazaar at Si View Community Center tomorrow. These editions will be very limited and are handmade and/or designed by the Authors. Get them while you can! The sale is Dec. 7th 10-3. And you can contact us at FreeValleyPublishing@gmail.com if you’re interested but can’t make it to the sale.

Here’s a sneak peek at our sign for the sale and Victoria Bastedo’s and Kennedy J. Quinn’s packages. More images will be added for the others as soon as they are available.Sign for Holiday Book Sale

Victoria Bastedo's SUNRISE MEETS THE STAR features bookmark and Sun/Star themed custom wrap.

Victoria Bastedo’s SUNRISE MEETS THE STAR features bookmark and Sun/Star themed custom wrap.

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Kennedy J. Quinn’s SECRET ORDER OF THE OVERWORLD features custom designed wrapping paper with theme ‘Harmony’ on it, a hand-embellished signed bookmark with beads and rainbow braid, a Mylar gold and silver prism-star bow or rainbow prism Mylar crinkle accent..

A Peek Into the Mind

A peek in to the mind of the antagonist in Dead of Nyte.

Dead of Nyte

The scent of cold rice roused him from sleep. Like the gentle brush of his wife when she rolled over in bed, it brought a welcomed comfort. The bowl arrived every morning before dawn and had become his only luxury. Like breathing in and out, the rice tethered him to a fragile thread of life, of sanity. It embodied his daily quest.

When the imprisonment began, he had used his fingernail to memorialize each sunrise with a hash-mark on the wooden floor of his prison, but after two years ticked by, it just didn’t matter. He had become like a circus animal. Chained by day and caged by night, he performed his mindless tasks from daylight to nightfall.

Nine years of exposure in the sweltering jungle had baked his mind to an anesthetized numbness. The macabre screams of the innocent lives he had slaughtered and the thrashing visions of his buddies’ last breathes vanished from his nightmares. The image of the three-year-old son he left crying on the front porch had long faded like an echo in a secret crevasse, yet there remained a child-sized breach in his memory that yearned to be filled.

Even though his own name retreated so far into the past it seemed of no importance to his daily existence—not worth the effort to recall— the phantom with sergeant stripes stalked day and night. The questions he asked in the beginning—intentionality, cowardice, misinformation, dereliction—had faded with the other bits of his life. But in the void, the face symbolized all his loss and gave sustenance to his present reality.

Sold and resold, stolen and re-stolen, beaten only to revive to be beaten again, if he had ever been a prisoner of war, those days were long past. He was now MIA, yet even more true, a slave who gave willing assent to whoever held the key to his coop— the faceless men who delivered the rice.

So why eat?

Reduced to the most basic human precedence, even pain by whip no longer gave witness to life. It would have been easier to acquiesce to the evidence. Release, rescue, or escape could never be attained. He should have forsaken the thought that the next marauding gang would be someone sent from home to rescue him, and not another warring tribe to seize his servitude. Death offered an almost uncontrollable appeal, yet he fought the longing with each breath. He purposed to stall its final onset because there remained one thing, one leash, one hope— the end of the cage.

He sat up, leaned his back against the familiar bars—his home—and caressed the bowl. Around him, the familiar sounds of the jungle waking for a new day—chattering vernal hanging-parrots and a couple of black crested gibbons singing their morning breeding song—filled his ears.

In his hand the only meal he would see today writhed like a bucket of snakes. He reached in with two fingers, scooped the white rice and maggots into his mouth, and savored the insipid pleasure.

Excerpt by Jearl Rugh, Featured Author    Published with Permission

Simply a Seed

Moira’s footsteps echoed across the empty stage of the deserted theatre. Gone were the red carpet and golden canopy at the front doors – replaced with plywood, yellow tape and ‘no trespassing’ signs.

She didn’t let that bother her, since she found her way in through a broken window in the alleyway. It was a better place to be instead of school.

Standing at the top of the rolling rickety steps, Moira’s small hand wrapped around a red, leather bound book. On the inside of the cover was an apple core sketched in ink, words written in the margins.

Moira used the tempo of the rain against the metal corrugated roof as she read the poem aloud.

‘You hold in your hands a mystery in words,

Cutting through space and time as easily as a sword.

For this collection of stories, with many games afoot,

Is simply a seed for your imagination to take root.

While many snowflakes fall,

Creating a ground of white

Listen to the Muse’s call

As your woven words take flight.’

Moira tucked the book inside her coat pocket before exploring the many costumes that had remained. From the wool houndstooth deerstalker and matching cloak, to an outfit perfect for Robin Hood or William Tell, the child wondered which world would be best to wander through, if only for a little while.

In another cupboard, Moira found two-piece suits, leather helmets and goggles, reminding her of Amelia Earhart. Beside that were a collection of floral dresses, cloches, fedoras and sunhats. Moira tried all of them, a new character emerging under each one as she looked up at the giant glitter-covered cardboard stars hanging from the ceiling.

In the many drawers found in the dressing rooms, she found loose papers from scripts old and new. Some pages she kept others she left where they were. Moira did the same with the photographs.

She found a Victor-Victrola phonograph buried by posters, maps and banners. Rotating the handle, Moira listened to the melody on the disc. Each note sparkled like a star in her mind; the new notes a new possibility. Maybe if she had lived a hundred years ago, she wouldn’t be so bored now.

Moira knew it was a silly thought, like many of her thoughts that got her into trouble. If the whole world was a stage, something her uncle once said; then she wanted the fastest route to get backstage, out of the spotlight, away from the microphones.

After an afternoon of adventure and anonymity, Moira smiled contently, aware that she would probably return here tomorrow, when time and her sketching kits were on her side. It wouldn’t be difficult to find alternative routes here from home, wouldn’t be hard to fix the window to keep the rain from coming in. Even with the power turned off, Moira knew how to keep herself from being in the dark.

For now, she would play the games and bend the rules without breaking them.

A Snippet by T. Tommia Wright, Featured Author    Published with Permission