Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Little Taste of Me

SHAKYRA DUNN

I don't often take the time to promote myself on this blog, but in honor of my first time participating in an online convention, B2BCycon, I thought now was a good time!

Here, you're going to learn a nice chunk of information about how I got my start, what my plans have been for my works, including this review site/blog, and you'll also learn about what's to come in the future.

I hope you enjoy the read!

A Taste of Me

There's a story for everyone to tell, so here's mine. I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois exactly twenty-two years, nine months and around twenty days ago! I've been writing since I was a child, always crafting stories on my mother's desktop in addition to playing with a variety of dolls with my younger cousin. We never played house--we always made adventures with our dolls. Not only did those fuel my creativity, but in my path were video games that focused on story and characters. My first was Spyro the Dragon, and even now, I still feel like the original trilogy of that series is among my motivators for bringing me to this point.

So how did that get me to writing today?
Well, at the tender age of fourteen as a high school freshman, I happened to be cleaning out my closet and discovered a collection of old notebooks. Curiously, I opened the first page of a composition book and discovered a story that I wrote when I was six or seven, a tale of five kittens that won a vacation and were set to explore the lands together. Looking back on it, it was a rather silly story. But that ignited a spark in me: maybe now that I'm older and more skilled, I can try again. That single thought triggered the need to write. I wanted to become an author, a creator. I wanted to become better, and I wanted to inspire others to create something meaningful.

What happened next? I was eighteen years old when life took a drastic turn. I had just graduated from high school, I was happy with a new boyfriend, I was going to be moving to Texas for college, my mother was proud of me, and I felt like I was on top of the world. Then August 4th crept in, the day much like many others, and my mother stopped breathing after lying down due to a headache. She was pronounced dead the following day. In a flash, my life had changed. I stopped writing. I stopped focusing. I left my city as I planned, and I tried to continue as I always had. Then one cold October morning, I decided to go back to writing, and "The One Left Behind" began to take a form.

THE ONE LEFT BEHIND

Cover designed by TitPrince
Edited by Stephanie Ayers
Frayle searches through time for a way to save his best friend.

After witnessing Relek Paladere's murder, the rogue Frayle is thrust twenty years into the past and meets Nova Avery, a Time-Jumper. She wanders the thin lines of fragmented memories and sends Frayle through the windows of the Phantasm.

Together, they seek to save his friend, and unearth the mystery of the Guardians heading his world and the origin of one known only as the Creator.



"The One Left Behind" started off as a completely different story back in 2012. 
It was so jumbled that I can barely remember the details about it, but boy, was it a mess. There is something that stood out from the old progress that I know now though. I can remember how whiny and insignificant my main character Frayle was, and how much I wanted to shake the crazy out of him. But looking back on it, I think that the inspiration for him back then was my desire to retain what was left of my childhood. I wanted to whine. I wanted to scream. But those days were gone.

And I'm glad of it, because though Frayle is rather naive and can be kind of moody at times, he has grown so much over the course of the story. The first book alone from beginning to end acts as a reflection of his acceptance into a new person, all because time unfolded around him.

I sit back these days and wonder what would have been. I think of how much Frayle, Nova, Recca, even Relek, Curova and Freiya mean to me. All of these characters have cast a shadow over my heart and allowed me to develop motivation to continue moving forward. They are my pride.

The One Left Behind: Magic was my first jump into this crazy field of being an author. And there is little that I regret with crafting it.


EXCERPT:

The trek through the desert, Frayle found, was agonizingly long and silent. Everything spun about his mind; somehow, he was walking in the shadows of the past. He met with people he knew, and others that he had never met. He was being considered a Time-Jumper, the Creator… and he felt alone in this land that was familiar, but so intangible. He stared at Nova’s back as she walked ahead of him. She wasn’t even breaking a sweat, and her choice of clothing didn’t help. Was she used to walking everywhere? Why did she come to his rescue anyways?

There were so many questions, and not enough answers.

Frayle and Nova took refuge inside of a small shed just outside of the desert—an oasis, the man called it. It was sturdy enough to shield them from the dusty winds outside and allow them the time to get to know each other in this cramped shed. Who had the gall to build it in the middle of a desert anyways?

“So, you said you’re a Time-Jumper?” Frayle began, his back against the wall. “I’m still not sure what that is. The leader of the Church called me that…”

“It’s self-explanatory,” Nova began, leaning up against the opposite wall. Frayle glared at her, which she brushed off. “A Time-Jumper is one who is traveling through time… a ‘gift’ granted to certain people from the Guardian of Time to correct events. Those events are a single important moment in the life of the Time-Jumper.” Frayle listened intently to her words, resting his hands on his lap.

“They gain the opportunity to correct the distorted memory, but with several prices—once you use the power, you can’t hope to return to your own time for good, and you are stuck maneuvering through a bunch of different times for the rest of your life. You tend to forget, if you lack the will power, certain memories before that moment. There is also the possibility of re-writing events, like you saw.”

“You were watching what happened?”

“I’ve never met Guilian myself; I knew of him, in another time. Originally, he was a victim of a slaughtering at the Church by Savages that had come there for Relek on the night of his christening. Maximus was the catalyst in drawing them there. His lust for Guilian’s power was the bait. He died passing his powers on to you, saving your life.” Frayle’s lips parted at the proclamation, resting his hand on the pendant around his neck. “Your interference rushed his demise, because Maximus had a reason to eliminate Guilian, and Paladere was going to kill you. With both of you gone, he foolishly thought that the powers would be passed down to him automatically.”

“I can’t go back and try to resolve things? Relek’s alone in that place! He could die!”

“What’s done is done, Frayle,” Nova said simply.

He shook his head at her statement. “If you were in that time, why didn’t you do anything to try and save them?”

“Because that would ruin the balance of time. Like, right now.” She stood up. “Your actions have altered the fabric. Guilian is deceased, similar to the prime timeline. Your life is the same. Barron is now dead as well, before his time. Vicirus Paladere is alive. And there is no one to protect Relek.”

“I can’t fail again!” he cried out.

“If you were wiser, you would have suggested that Relek be taken away with Rilla. Perhaps things would have turned out differently.”

He ignored her statement. “The only reason I asked the Guardians to help was to make sure that Relek lived! If he dies, I’ll have never met him! What happens then?”

She thought of how to address his question before stating, “All of your actions up to this point would be in vain. You’d likely return to your old life.” He drummed his fingers along the floor. “You want to run to him, don’t you? Think about this, Frayle. Would you really want to risk your own life for the life of another? You, someone carrying the soul of the Creator?”

Frayle didn’t hesitate to respond, “Of course I would, for him. He’s my best friend. Are you telling me that you wouldn’t if you were close to someone?” Nova blankly stared at him, her mouth daring to open and retort to his comment, but she remained silent. “Okay, if you wouldn’t, then why are you out here? You had someone you wanted to save, so you turned back time. Right?”

“There’s no reason for me to tell you my business.”

He resisted the urge to slam his fist against the floor. This girl was a hassle. “Oh, because you knowing my business is such an improvement? The least that I deserve are answers.”

“I saved your life!” she hissed, pointing a finger at him, taking him by surprise. “You would have been beheaded and died on the cross if I hadn’t kept my eyes on you! Or is that not enough for you?”

“You don’t have to be brutal about it!” Frayle exclaimed, now up on his feet as well, towering over the girl. “I am grateful for what you did, and I’m happy that I’m alive, but if being alive means going back to a life where I’ll have nothing to live for, then I’d rather not have that life. Do you get that?”

“Do you love him?”

He found himself scratching his head. “…What?”

“Do you love him?” she repeated, “Are you and this Relek guy lovers?”

His eyes went buck-wild at the statement. “Oh gosh, what?!” He frantically waved his hands. “No! A thousand times no! W-Where did that even come from?!”

“You seem like you’re practically joined at the knee with him, and not having him there is like tearing a part of you away. Kind of weird.” She crossed her arms in a huff before looking away, once again taking her place on the floor, staring at the wall. “Forget I said anything. We’ve… got a long journey ahead of us.”

He calmed himself before sitting down, never once averting his gaze from her. “Journey?”

“Well… you want to go after Relek. And the best time to do that is tonight, when security in the Church is down. It’s only a matter of time before Vicirus figures out where he’s being hidden. But after Relek is safe… we have to leave this time.”

“T-This time? Why do we have to leave?”

“The Guardians will come after you… Now that you’ve become aware of yourself and the Guardian of Time knows who you are… they will kill you. I’d rather not have your blood on my hands because I didn’t warn you of what was coming…”

His eyes narrowed in contempt. So that was all that she had in mind? Keeping him alive just because she wanted to keep his blood out of her hands? Could that really be it? Because if it had, to him, it made no sense. He wasn’t a defining factor in her life.

“…You call me the Creator. And you saved my life without many reasons behind it, at least that’s what I’m picking up from you. Does that mean that you don’t believe in the Guardians?”

Her eyelids were heavy. She leaned against the wall, finding the hard wood floor almost comforting. “I’ll leave it to you to decide.” Oh, so she’s vague, he concluded.

“Just one more question. Then I’ll let you sleep.”

“I’m not tired,” she retorted before pulling the pink ponytail holder out, letting her hair fall down to her shoulders. And stubborn? What a dangerous combination.

“If we’re going to be working on the same side, even if it’s just to try and get Relek back and part ways… do you think we could at least try and get along?”

She raised an eyebrow. “So, you want to be friends or something along those lines? You’re… interesting with shaping your words, to say the least.” He lightly grinned; that made her slightly uncomfortable. “Sure. Whatever you want. As long as you stop with that weird look.”

He raised an eyebrow, his expression remaining. “This is a weird look? Well, sorry, but this is my face when I’m in a better mood, so you’d better get used to it.”

“Never,” she said simply.

THE FINAL LESSON

Cover by Megan Weaver
Apprentice Arcana Leilana Erovina has the chance to rise to power when she is granted a final test to gain the title of Warlord that she has craved for the last five years. She is assigned to travel about the land of Adrylis and learn one spell from every magical being.

However, there's a catch--she is not to learn from the ancestors of wizardry before her. Instead, she is assigned to learn something more from the souls that she encounters in the world of Adrylis: humbleness, passion, understanding, laughter, friendship and love.

Adrylis is in crisis, war at the doorstep of the kingdom of Linmus. Prince Remiel Vesarus is forced into hiding, racked with vengeance towards the terrorists that have destroyed all that he has ever known. With his loyal attendant Solus Brenner at his side, together they seek to restore their kingdom to its former glory and end the conflict of previous generations.

When fate pulls them down similar paths, they will discover that the magic budding in their crumbling world certainly comes with a price.

"Time to embark on your final lesson."

My second novel is going to be another jump in the fantasy field, but based on what I have written for it, it is already a huge step up from how "The One Left Behind: Magic" turned out. My dialogue and scenery has become so clear with the direction for this novel since I've begun.

A little background information: "The Final Lesson" is a separate novel in its own league of a series called "Final Meaning to Life," a collection of novels that are bound together by the common theme of morality and growth. It was first created during November 2016 as a project for my first NaNoWriMo, and came into fruition just a month before when I was at work. 

After winning NaNoWriMo, I was fervent in my decision to finish the novel, and today it sits at over 150k words, about 65% complete now. 

The book is due for a summer release, and you can follow its progress here in my Facebook group "Basking in the Final Lesson!" There, you'll be able to find pictures, excerpts from the novel, teasers, and you'll even get the chance to hear more about my upcoming other projects!

EXCERPT:

Heavy footsteps followed by a fierce roar shattered the silence between them. Leilana and Amiria cowered at the faint sight of the source, even grasped one another’s hands to ease the tension building around them, though neither of them were willing to admit it. Amiria swallowed, and Leilana stroked the girl’s index finger with her thumb to coax her out of her stupor. Now they understood why everyone ran away before the shade hit. Leilana channeled her magic, the Lasette lifting into the air. Amiria put the flute up to her lips, a shrill note ringing from the instrument out of fear alone. The noise was enough to rouse the beast further, its sharp fangs bulging forward as it snarled and stepped further into view.

The street lights did little to mask the ethereal creature. When it emerged, it was standing upright on its hind legs, carrying a spiked club in its left hand. The horns atop its head stretched down towards the middle of its back, black fur coating its broad shoulders and legs. Leilana bit down on her bottom lip as she allowed herself to rush through the pages of the Lasette before suddenly stopping on a page, her mind reading over the words hovering in her sight. Many times, she had jumped through these pages, studied the lore of the mystical creatures lurking through the world of Adrylis. But never had she imagined that she could encounter a Dirionus type.

“W-What are we supposed to do…?” Amiria whispered to Leilana, taking a step towards her.

Leilana was emanating an aura that would allow the Lasette to unleash the power budding within her. “Fight. Otherwise we’ll be obliterated, and this city is going to keep being threatened.”

Dirionus. They were beings of high stature and spiritual power said to harness powers recognizable by the Warlords themselves, practically acting as familiars. But they were supposed to be peaceful and act as martyrs to the lands that they are assigned to protect in place of their masters. If that were the case, why was this one cloaked in shadow?

“Certainly we can’t take it down all by ourselves,” Amiria retorted, her tone hesitant, “We aren’t experienced enough! We’re still new to this phase of the Arcana life!”

“We have to do this because we’re Arcana!” Leilana hissed, “This is the fate that we have been given! We are born to protect others! Who are we to abandon it?” She turned to the Dirionus-bred creature again and thrust out a hand, a gust of wind propelling forward. The Dirionus thrust the club into the ground and gripped to the handle, keeping itself secure in its place. “Even if you don’t believe in the Warlords… anyone with a heart would understand what these people go through! They run and hide because of this monster terrorizing them! Who are we to turn our backs to them?”

Amiria’s eyes were darting between Leilana and the Dirionus. With a sigh, she stood at the girl’s side and began to play a tune on the flute, a veil of protection casting over Leilana. Leilana followed the wind strike with several bursts of electricity raining from the sky, which seemed to do little damage towards their opponent. It seemed to almost absorb the power, its club nulling the effects. Maybe it had channeled its energy long ago. Leilana switched to ice, but the Dirionus timed her movements, dodging the attack. Once Leilana’s spell had worn out, it propelled forward, thrusting its club into the ground, kicking up some of the pavement, throwing Leilana off balance and knocking Amiria out of the line of fire altogether. The Dirionus hovered over Leilana, club grasped in both hands.

Leilana let out a sharp gasp before planting her feet on the wrecked pavement, jumping out of the way of the strike, the wind from the weapon rushing past her ears. She had barely heard the club slam into the ground, cratering the path. Amiria seized the opportunity to try and stun the beast, inhaling deeply before unleashing a far cry of a sonic wave from the bottom of her throat. The Dirionus roared in retaliation, covering its ears, dropping the spiked club in the process. Leilana held up a hand, the Lasette thrusting the ephemeral limbs from within its pages, grabbing the weapon from the ground. She mimicked the stance that the beast had taken before swinging it, the hands effectively hitting the Dirionus, knocking it into one of the nearby buildings.

Amiria stumbled forward, her vision hazing, but she shook her head to clear any signs of vulnerability and stood her ground as the Dirionus regained itself. It locked its gaze on Leilana, who seemed to be recharging her power into the Lasette. It sped towards her, cutting through the spectral hands she had conjured. Amiria belted out another sonic wave, channeling more force into the action, the pavement beginning to thrust upward, knocking the Dirionus off its feet. Leilana flexed her fingers and sent a whirlwind of flames spiraling towards the beast. The combined tactic opened a crater under the beast, and it fell.

Amiria and Leilana approached the crater and peered down before looking at one another, Amiria sheepishly grinning while Leilana retained a confident expression. Their hopes were dashed when a snarl beset their ears and the Dirionus leapt from the crater, striking them simultaneously with the club and knocking them across the battlefield. The Lasette hit the ground with a thud, and the flute clanked against one of the buildings, remaining intact. Amiria gaped at the blood covering her chest, emerging from her ripped dress; she could barely lift her head, already winded from the excess magic usage. She clenched her fist and slammed it against the concrete. Leilana pressed her hands to the ground and pushed herself to a sit, the side of her face caked in the sticky substance. She scoffed, trying to wipe some away to clear her right eye.

The Dirionus drifted over the two, holding up the club above them, prepared to strike them down swiftly and as painlessly as possible. Leilana swallowed, never taking her gaze from the beast, a certain quality opening her mind further. Now that she could look it in the face, she saw that its eyes were full of remorse, even if its actions spoke otherwise. Dirionus weren’t meant to be malicious, only helpful. And that resided deep within. Which meant that this wasn’t its doing, not fully.

“Stop…” she whispered with as much energy as she could manage, though she knew that the words were futile for it to comprehend. “You… can still make a change…”

Amiria shot to a sit, panting as she looked over at the girl, unsure of what her plans were. Was she trying to talk it down? It was too far gone already. Why put in the extra effort?

The Dirionus thrust down its club.

Leilana had closed herself off and forced herself not to look up at the beast when she listened to the wind move at the swift motion. She felt a tug, but no impact came. She slowly opened her eyes, looking to her left and saw Solus holding Amiria in his arms, both looking just past her. Leilana followed their line of sight, appalled by what she saw next.

 

A Bit of a Confession

Solus Brenner and Leilana Erovina
TitPrince
I'll be honest. 


My first novel made its debut back in June of last year, and though I have no regrets with how I shaped it, there were still so many mishaps behind it that are still being reflected today. 

I watch it crumble at my feet because I was a reckless, broke young adult that couldn't afford an editor, and that mistake cost me dearly because my reviews tanked fast due to my second-guessing and my self-edits. I am a four-star author, and I have a long way to go with this series. But it isn't going to be my only series.

Seeing my reviews on "The One Left Behind: Magic" left me extremely hesitant with wanting to participate in B2BCycon. There are so many incredible authors participating, and I'm still so new and unestablished. My review streak doesn't help that at all. 

Frayle Mathur
TitPrince
Frayle's story is still developing--HE is still developing, just as I am. 

He's got a long way to go, not only as a Creator meant to balance out the world of Nimestria, but as a young man still finding his place. And I still see myself in him on these aspects.

Looking at things now... I don't feel like I have to be afraid to keep taking some chances and make mistakes in this field. Because everything that I have done up to now has been a journey no different from the ones that my characters take. Slow, purposeful steps are meant to carry you forward. I have a solid following now that I've made a dent in my budding career. 

I feel every day that this is something that I am meant to do. I am meant to be a writer. I've always believed that. I have meaning now, and I want to use my skills to the best of my ability. I've grown so much since that first book, and I hope that future projects will allow me to showcase my skills.

Here's to all the best!

WHERE TO FIND ME

Obviously, Burning Out The Masses here is my blog, but this is a good place to keep up with my reviews and thought process. I keep on my toes these days. Here, you can find reviews, promotions of other authors, and I may even start expanding mine into actual blog posts again!

Those aside, I can also be found at a variety of social media sites:


26 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Tom. I'm not the best at talking about myself, so when I do, I try not to be too dumpy on the information. :3

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  2. The B2B should be fun and I hope you do well! Keep writing ♥

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    1. ^-^ Heh, thank you, Rose! I'm hoping it goes well too!

      And, always. Writing is the dream.

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  3. Don't you just love it when an original idea changes into something totally different?

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    1. Heh, all the time. I definitely love the changes.

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  4. What an amazing story! And I love the sound of your books, good luck with your writing journey and keep going!

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    1. :3 Thank you for that! <3 Always.

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  5. Nice piece, love getting to know authors better.

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    1. ^-^ Thank you. I'm a fan of that myself.

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  6. Nice site and good luck with your writing

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  7. What a fantastic piece and how nice to get some information on the people we really are, who we deal with often in this cyber world.

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    1. ^_^ Heh, I agree. Thank you so much for that, it really is nice to gain some insight.

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  8. Very interesting background and love the anime! Lots of success to you!

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  9. I wish you all success, Shakyra.

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  10. Great post! It's great getting to know fellow authors :)

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    1. ^_^ Thank you. I'm glad I found the courage to talk about myself this time. lol

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  11. So nice to get more acquainted with you!

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