The Business Side of Things

No Sunday Sample this week, I’m afraid. While I’ve been continuously writing Sovereign of Shadow, with its projected publication in August 2014, I’ve been spending a lot of time working out things on the business end these last few weeks. Getting the company name filed, the website set up, branding decisions, all that stuff. I have a very clear idea of how I want to put myself out there as an author, and with that in mind I’ll be making some changes to my blog this upcoming week. I’ll be switching URLs, and though I will leave up as a way to archive my old stuff, I will no longer be updating it. All of my new posts will be going to the new blog. But I’ll make an official announcement when all of that stuff’s squared away, and I’ll leave a link to the new place.

As far as branding goes, this is something that’s been on my mind for quite some time. It’s extremely important to me – as I feel it should be for any writer – to consider how you want to portray your author identity. How will you let your readers know who you are and what you write about? Will you use a pen name, and why or why not? Is it important to you to stay anonymous, completely unveil yourself, or aim for something in between? These are the types of questions I’ve been mulling over.

After a discussion with another author, one who had some great advice for me on branding myself (thank you, Ali Cross!), I have decided that the most important thing to me personally, the thing I am most passionate about, is authenticity. Honesty and openness, and being true to myself. In the spirit of this, I will not be using a pen name. I’ll be writing under my name – Beka Tinsley – and have dedicated myself to being completely open with readers, through my writing and beyond.

More on this to come. Just wanted to give a heads up to those who have followed my journey thus far. Thanks to each and every one of you who has visited me here. Your support means the world.



Sunday Sample – Sovereign of Shadow Excerpt

Sunday Sample, one day late :)  This is the continuation of This Excerpt… Kieran and Galan get into it. Poor, poor Kieran.


Kieran sought the best vantage point. He crept toward the building adjacent to the alley the girl had indicated, using the rotting awnings and crumbling windowsills to climb to the rooftop. This had to be the worst smelling street in the entire city. He adjusted his mask, thankful that it filtered out the brunt of the foul odor.

Before he reached the far end of the building, he could hear faint shuffling, a whisper here, a murmur there.

Sounds like they’re gettin’ impatient.

Kieran wouldn’t keep them waiting any longer.

He unclasped the lid of a hard case attached to his belt, pinching the end of a crossbow bolt with his thumb and index finger. He slid it out inch by inch, clenching it between his teeth, being extremely careful to keep the tip away from his skin. He pulled another bolt out, loading it into his hand crossbow, then shut and locked the case.

Kieran picked his way carefully across the flat rooftop, pressing his back up against the chimney that stuck up through the roof. He rolled slowly toward the front, studying the layout of the men down below with a few quick darts of his eyes, then dipped back behind the chimney.

A couple of the men seemed bored, one of them leaning against the wall and cleaning his nails with a knife. There was one man at each end of the alley with a crossbow.

Where was Galan? Kieran looked again, risking poking his head out a bit longer, but still saw no sign of him.

Kieran readied himself. First, the crossbowmen. I don’t want to get shot. He propped his shoulder against the chimney and rolled forward, aiming and loosing his shot in one swift motion. He heard the thunk of the bolt piercing flesh as he ducked back out of view. He took the bolt from between his teeth and reloaded.

A dull thump followed by a clatter exploded in the night. The men exclaimed out loud, and Kieran heard their tone go from confusion to caution. The ring of drawn steel reached his ears as they questioned aloud where the shot had come from. He had to be quick.

Kieran rolled forward again, only letting half his body emerge from behind the chimney. The unscathed crossbowman had changed position, but only slightly. Kieran aimed, loosed, and another thief went down with a gurgle when the bolt slammed into the side of his neck. He popped open the case and pulled out two more bolts.

A man’s voice called out. “On the roof! He’s on the bloody roof! Get to cover!”

That’s him. Crouching low, Kieran stealthed toward the sound of their retreating footsteps. They tried to stay under the awnings and against the walls, but Kieran tracked them easily. He propped his hand crossbow against the edge of the roof and pulled the trigger. The bolt flew toward its target with a twang, sinking into the flank of one of the retreating thieves. The man fell against a wall, sliding down to the ground. Then, all was silent.

Kieran reloaded, straining his ears to listen. Did they somehow get around the building?

Galan’s voice echoed against the buildings. “Kieran, that you up there? I recognize your bolts.”

Kieran said nothing. His ears picked up faint footfalls. They sounded like they were coming from the street below him to his left. He flexed his fingers around the crossbow and braced himself.

“Let’s bargain. Stop shooting, and we’ll talk.”

Kieran’s legs burned with the effort of staying low as he approached the side of the building.

“Come, hear me out. I’m a man of honor.”

About as honorable as a Zaraban merchant during trading season.

He heard a faint scrape travel up the side of the building. Was Galan climbing?

“I wanna make a deal with you. Work with me on one last job, and we’ll call our little feud even.”

The scraping noise sounded closer now. Kieran shut his eyes and focused on where the sound was coming from. Must be one of the other men; Galan wouldn’t give himself away like that.

A twang of metal rang out and Kieran’s head whipped around just in time to see a hand appear and grip the lip of the roof. The thief’s grimy hair bobbed into view, and Kieran lowered his crossbow until the bolt aimed between the man’s eyes.

The man’s jaw went slack, eyes opening as wide as they would go. “Don’t-”

Kieran pulled the trigger, feeling the bow vibrate in his hand as the bolt crunched into the dirty spot between the man’s eyebrows, his head jerking back with the impact. The thief let out his breath in a huff as his grip loosened and he crashed to the ground below.

He took the bolt from between his teeth, reloading. “No bargain.”

“Agreed.” Galan’s voice rumbled behind him, too close for his comfort.

Kieran spun on his heel, rearing back when the tip of a sword pricked against the front of his neck. He froze, crossbow lifted halfway.

Galan’s mouth twisted into a wicked grin, his gold tooth glinting in the moonlight. He took a step forward, forcing Kieran back. “Always a pebble in my boot, Kieran. Shoulda left the city while I was locked up.”

Kieran took another step back, feeling with his toe to make sure he wasn’t about to plummet off the building. He could hear scrabbling behind him; the last remaining thief, climbing up to the top. He could hear the man’s heavy breathing, and a sharp poke against his back. A bow?

“Though,” Galan said. “I s’pose you would stick around. Right, Keean?”

He swallowed, wincing when the sword’s tip pricked his skin. Keean. That’s what his sister used to call him when she was young. Galan knew about Raili. Did he know where she was now? Kieran’s mind raced, his heart pounding in his chest. Hatred seethed in his gut.

Galan stepped back, using his sword to point. “Down.”

One chance. He took a long breath, trying to enjoy it in case it was his last one.

Kieran twisted around at the hip, reaching back to grab hold of the crossbow the thief held against his back. He yanked forward, and the bolt loosed. Galan recoiled, backpedaling a few steps, the bolt narrowly missing his face. Kieran elbowed the man behind him twice, trying to shove him off the side of the building. The man growled, his foul breath seeping through Kieran’s mask.

Galan recovered, advancing with a menacing sneer. The man with the crossbow was heavy, more of a brawler than a thief. Kieran threw all of his weight against him and he toppled, arms wheeling in the air. Turning, Kieran reached for the hilts of his knives – but the man behind him grabbed his arm as he pitched over the edge. He felt himself being pulled off the roof.

Kieran’s heart dropped into his stomach. He squeezed his eyes shut as he plummeted toward the ground below.

Sunday Sample – Sovereign of Shadow Excerpt

More “Sovereign of Shadow” goodness. This is a little further along in the story than my previous samples, and will end up in either chapter 2 or 3.

* * * * *

Kieran drew in a deep breath, feeling the cloth covering his face pull in against his lips for a moment before blowing it away. The hood over his head fluttered in the constant breeze that blew along the tops of the buildings. He prowled along the edges of the roof like a cat, keeping his eyes on the network of dirt roads and rotting alleys that marked the beginning of The Dregs.

Most of the access to the Outer Circle from the Dregs had been barricaded, but there were still a few openings that allowed people through. The barricades were temporary while they completed construction on wall that would section off each part of Midcity – a blatant reminder of the rigid class structure of the city.

Walls and barricades wouldn’t stop Kieran though. For the past few nights, he’d been seeking any activity that might lead him to Galan. Though he had to admit that he wasn’t sure what he would do once he found him. Someone had to get Galan’s group off the streets – they were violent and corrupt, and gave thieves everywhere a bad name.

Though the profession itself might have had something to do with that.

The roads were empty; guards didn’t bother much with this area of the city. Anyone walking alone in the middle of the night this close to The Dregs deserved to be robbed.

If all they did was steal, Kieran wouldn’t care. Instead, they beat and raped. They used desperate children with no home or family to lure in their targets.

Kieran neared the end of his third round of the city. Another eventless night. Either Galan was laying low, or he was being extremely careful about his activity.

Perhaps it was time to head back home for the evening. He didn’t have a real plan, anyway. He couldn’t take on Galan and the Theives’ Guild with hatred alone. He altered his course, heading in the direction of his ruined tower when something at the far end of the street below caught his eye.

A woman? Kieran hurried to catch up. Surely no one would be that stupid. No one who knew the inner workings of Midcity, anyway. She had to be a traveler, likely passing through the city. The poor woman seemed oblivious to her surroundings; the fact that she was out alone at night spoke volumes. Her slippers clacked on the cobblestone, and she didn’t seem to be in any hurry. She held her chin up high. Her clothing style and decorative hat suggested she had some money. What would a woman of her stature be doing out this far? He needed to catch up to her.

Or… Kieran stopped. He pursed his lips and watched her. A pretty, wealthy woman like that would catch Galan’s attention.
Though he didn’t want to see the young woman get hurt, he decided to leave her be. He kept her in his sight while scanning the streets.

He didn’t have to wait long. As the woman rounded a corner that put her even closer to The Dregs, something darted across the street and took cover in a patch of shadow.

Kieran crouched down, poking one eye over the edge. Nothing stirred for a long time. What had he seen? He stayed there motionless, eyes fixated on the dark patch near a door where he’d thought he’d seen the movement.

Maybe he was just tired. Though he didn’t really believe that. The one thing he trusted more than anything else was his instincts. He waited, watching.

There. Out of the blackened doorway darted a thin, lanky figure. Whoever it was, they were trying to stay hidden in the shadows, trailing the woman.

Looks like a kid. He narrowed his eyes and followed. Kieran waited until she was further down the road, then padded to the corner of the building. He leapt lightly onto an unlit lamppost, his boots rasping softly as he slid to the ground.

It had to be Galan. They moved fast; it was like they knew the woman would be there. He remembered his own time with the Theives’ Guild, being sent out alone in the middle of the night as bait.

Kieran sped ahead of the girl, keeping one street between them. He poked his head out of an alleyway in front of the woman just as the child caught up to her. He could see now that it was a young girl, no older than Raili.

The girl’s steps switched from discrete to clumsy. She panted and widened her eyes. “Help me! Please Lady, help!”

The woman spun around with a gasp, pressing her fingertips to the top of her chest. “Kernu’s horn, child. You frightened the wits out of me.”

From Belamros, by the sound of ‘er voice. Maybe she’ll jus send the kid away.

“My br-brother,” the girl wailed. “He’s sick. P-please, help!”

Kieran ground his teeth together. The same bloody story I used. You’d think by now he’d come up with somethin’ better.

The woman planted her fists on her hips. “I certainly do not know what you expect me to do. I am no healer.”

“Please!” The girl shrieked, tears flowing effortlessly down her cheeks. She fell to her knees, sobbing. “He’s all I got. My b-brother. He’s gonna d-d-die.”

“Oh, dear.” The woman bent at the waist and patted the girl on the shoulder. “All right then. Take me to him. We will find someone along the way to assist. Perhaps a member of the law.”

That wasn’t likely. Galan picked his locations well. Kieran stepped out of the shadows. “Stop.”

They both jumped at the sudden noise, the girl drawing a tiny rusted dagger from her belt and crouching low.

The older woman eyed him suspiciously, her fists returning to her rounded hips. “And who are you? Her brother? You do not look ill.”

“Don’t follow her,” Kieran said. He addressed the woman, ignoring the kid trying to circle around him. “She’s gonna lure ya into a trap.”

“I highly doubt that. She’s just a child.” The older woman wagged a finger in the air. “You, on the other hand. I do not like the look of you. Don’t dare think to rob me, you hear? I’ve been trained in Fire.” A pitiful flame sputtered to life above her outstretched palm, it’s measly light flickering on the brick walls.

Kieran shook his head slowly, recognizing the imitation of magic for what it was. He took a step forward. “There’s a group of men waitin’ in a dark street for ya. Waitin’ ta rob and beat ya.”

The woman’s fire faltered and winked out. Her eyes were wide as she stared up at him. Her whisper barely reached his ears. “Are you with them?”

Kieran opened his mouth to answer, but a meager snarl interrupted him from behind. He twisted to the side and grabbed hold of the skeletal wrist that had thrust a rusty dagger at him.

The girl squealed, pushing at him with her free hand, kicking at his legs.

Kieran glared at the girl. “Tell ‘er.”

The girl’s face went white and she stopped struggling. Her eyes flicked to the woman and back. She only nodded.

The woman gasped, covering her mouth. “Disgusting child! Who do you think you are? How dare you try t-”

“Enough,” Kieran growled. He stepped forward to loom over the woman, pulling the girl along behind him. “Get. Off. The street.”
The woman looked shaken, but managed a small bob of her head. “T-thank you.” She glared at the girl before hiking up her skirt and running off toward the Outer Circle.

The little girl whimpered.

Kieran glared at her. “You wit Galan?”

She gave him a jerky nod. “I’m s-sorry. I didn’t know what else ta d-do, I don’t have-”

“Quiet.” Kieran took the dagger from her hand. “You got a family?”

She shook her head, and her bottom lip quivered. “J-jus me.”

He thought she might start bawling at any moment. “Show me where they’re hidin’. Then get outta Midcity. I’ll give ya five gold crowns. Find a better life than this.”

The girl’s dark eyes were wide as saucers, covered with a watery sheen of tears ready to spill over. “W-why?”

“Don’t ask questions. That’s the deal, take it or not.”

She took a deep, shuddering breath and nodded, sniffling and wiping at her nose.

Kieran let her lead him closer to Galan’s hiding spot, where he and the Thieves’ Guild would be waiting for the girl to bring them the older woman. She pointed to a shadowy area along the outer wall of the town. As Kieran had expected, they encountered no guards along the way.

Kieran opened one of his many hidden pouches and fished out five fat gold crowns. The girl’s eyes gleamed and she grinned. She’d probably never seen that much money in her life. He emptied the coins into her tiny hands. “Disappear.”

She immediately stashed them away in a pocket, then lunged at Kieran and squeezed him in a brief hug. “Thank you.” With that, she scurried off in the opposite direction.

A High Point In My Writing Career

The time I’ve spent in developing my writing career has been amazing. Just waking up every day and reminding myself, “Hey, I’m a writer,” is pretty awesome all by itself. But there have been a few standout moments, events that may seem small to others, yet have instilled in me a confidence and a sense of validation that have enabled me to move forward. With my writing career still in its baby stages, I can count these events on one hand. For example:  Winning my first contest on and getting a short story published with Dreamspinner Press. Strangely enough, these events always seem to pop up when I need them most, even if I didn’t realize I needed them until after they occurred.

I had one such experience the other night, by far one of the best experiences I’ve had so far as a writer. I’d begun flagging again, losing my grip on Sovereign of Shadow. While at a family gathering, I pulled up my new logo to show it off (I love my kitty!). My sister-in-law poked around a little on my site, looking for a sample of my writing. She found an excerpt, and I’ve never been so amazed at someone’s reaction to my stories. She asked me all sorts of questions about what was happening, and she was genuinely worried for Kieran. She went on to show the rest of my family. They all enjoyed it, but my sister-in-law’s reaction in particular meant the world. It was priceless to me. Even if I only affect a handful of people the way I affected her, I will be happy.

As a writer, all I’ve ever wanted was to entertain people with stories. These stories and characters mean so much to me that I want them to matter to others as well. To see someone so entertained… that’s the dream, isn’t it?

And I know this probably seems such a small thing – a family member enjoying a story I wrote. But for me, the fact that I opened up my story to others that way is huge. During my childhood, I had my privacy intruded upon in such a profound way that even still, to this day, I have issues with sharing my written word. I’ve even stopped keeping a journal for fear that someone will see it. It affected me deeply, and unfortunately it has carried over into adulthood, and into my writing.

That’s why this experience meant so much to me. Because in that moment I let go. I shared my story – my passion and soul – with other people. And there is no longer any doubt in my mind that writing stories for others to enjoy is what I am meant to do.