New Blog: Woodsy Studio

Dearest readers,

As my last few posts have indicated, my creative focus has strongly shifted towards interactive stories over the course of the last few years. I continue to write like a madwoman, but I also pour art, music, and programming into my visual novel creations in the hopes of producing an even grander entertaining experience.

Therefore I’ve started a new blog over at Woodsy Studio, which will focus more on my storytelling in the realm of visual novels. My first post, Why Art and Business Must Intersect, addresses some of the intellectual ways I’ve grown as an artist and businesswoman of late. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll take a look and subscribe to me there!

Check out my new blog!

Published in: on November 3, 2014 at 11:55 am  Comments (1)  
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Quantum Conscience Released for Desktop Computers

A couple of weeks ago the initial release of my interactive novel, “Quantum Conscience,” released on the QC website. Today it also releases on Desura!

In this  sci-fi visual novel, test your resolve by controlling the power to read people’s minds. Within a galaxy of terraformed planets, a secret war rages between two intergalactic agencies. One of them—ARCHON—is developing the technology to invade people’s minds. Its agents have already tyrannized a planet called Teballai, and hope to use their mind-reading technology to spread their power across the galaxy. A second organization—FOE (Freedom Organization of Elites)—wants to destroy ARCHON’s technology in the name of freedom. When a young FOE soldier (you choose the gender) named Blaire obtains the ability to read minds from an ARCHON experiment, she finds her loyalty torn between both sides. Whether Blaire helps the enemy or defeats them depends upon your use of her power.

Try out the first chapter for free by downloading the demo. Or go ahead and get the full version!

Desura Digital Distribution

New Blog Theme: Character Vignettes

Dear Readers,

When I started this blog, my goal was to update every Tuesday with either a short story (at the time, I was releasing the “Lost Tales of Mercia“) or an informational post related to the subject of the stories. I succeeded for awhile. But then I got distracted by other things, and life was a bitch, and then I finished the Sons of Mercia series altogether, and then I really didn’t know what to post about here. But I want to keep posting regularly. Therefore, I have finally come up with a new idea for what to post each Tuesday–one that I will enjoy and thus am very likely to accomplish every week.

From now on, I will post every Tuesday with a so-called “vignette”–AKA *very very short story*, maybe even venturing near flash fiction levels of brevity–about whomever/whatever I feel like, but most likely featuring one or more characters from one of my already-written novels. The stories might only be a page long–some might be longer, some might be shorter–but rest assured there will be stories once again on this blog.

My head is already filled with ideas, mostly of scenes that never made it into one of my novels because they weren’t crucial to the plot… or perhaps they happened to a side character and thus the main character never found out about it. Here are some examples:

–from Eadric the Grasper: what Aydith and Hastings were really saying to each other before Eadric found them together

–from Eadric the Grasper: the truth behind Runa’s disappearance

–from Edric the Wild: one of Edric’s many adventures as Silvaticus, living it up like Robin Hood

–from Ashes of Dearen: that entire year Sean spent as King Darius… lots of unwritten material there

–from Sands of Hanubi: the undocumented adventures of pirate captain Greedy Gregor

… and many more. Those examples are the most obvious ones that come to mind. Granted, some of the vignettes I intend to write will probably be about less significant events than the ones mentioned above. My goal will be just to capture the character in a moment that is somehow unusual, interesting, or enlightening.  Occasionally, I might write about a character you don’t know–I have *lots* of unpublished stories–but hopefully you will still find it entertaining.

Given the fact I will be taking a break from my larger projects to write these vignettes, I maintain the right to write about anything that strikes my fancy at the time. That said, please let me know if you have any requests about a specific character, situation, etc. SEND ME REQUESTS!

I hope that you will enjoy the new blog theme!

Published in: on September 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Key to Castle Krondolee

Greetings everyone! I bring both good news and bad.

First the good news: releasing much earlier than expected is my stand-alone novella, “The Key to Castle Krondolee.” This story takes place in the world of the Broken Balance series (“Ashes of Dearen,” “Sands of Hanubi”) and introduces some of the characters of the upcoming animation, “Serafina’s Saga.” In any case, it should be a good romp of fun on its own, with some action and romance packed into a book about a fourth the size of my usual fare. Also, it’s free!

You can download it now in just about any ebook format (including .pdf for computer) from Smashwords. Soon it will appear in other retail outlets, as well.

A foreigner surprises everyone in the Castle of Krondolee when she claims to possess the key to a room that has remained closed for centuries, its contents unknown. Arken Jeridar, descended from the god of greed, schemes to win the key for himself and the queen's love all at once. But success may come at a far greater cost than he ever expected.

A foreigner surprises everyone in the Castle of Krondolee when she claims to possess the key to a room that has remained closed for centuries, its contents unknown. Arken Jeridar, descended from the god of greed, schemes to win the key for himself and the queen’s love all at once. But success may come at a far greater cost than he ever expected.

Now for the not so great news… my historical romance, “The Prince and the Pretender,” is going to be releasing a little later than previously expected, probably not until fall. I have been too busy with other projects+life to start promoting it as planned. However, I am looking once more into whether any big publishers want to pick it up. So we shall see what happens.

In the meantime, I really hope you enjoy “The Key to Castle Krondolee.” I had a blast writing it. And please let me know what you think when you’re done. Reviews or direct comments/emails are very much appreciated. Please remember that unless you give me such feedback, I never have any idea that my writing has impacted you in some way. I don’t know that you liked this or that character, or you really loved one scene, but hated another. I’m not psychic. I have no way of knowing these things you specifically tell me. And knowing that people are enjoying my work is what keeps me going (especially when I give work away for free)! So if you enjoy all the writing I’ve done, please take a moment to write back to me, it means a great deal each and every time.

Last Tales of Mercia 1: Emma the Queen

To prove her innocence of crimes against her own son, King Edward, Emma of Normandy must walk barefoot over nine scalding ploughshares and come out unscathed.

Written by Jayden Woods

Edited by Malcolm Pierce

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Download Epub, PDF, or Mobi for Kindle

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The ten Last Tales of Mercia are stand-alone short stories featuring real historical figures and characters from the Sons of Mercia series. You may read them independently as quick glimpses into an ancient world, or as a preface to the novel, Edric the Wild. For more news and updates on the Sons of Mercia series, visit www.jaydenwoods.com.

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And this year, fourteen nights before the mass of St. Andrew, it was advised the king, that he and Earl Leofric and Earl Godwin and Earl Siward with their retinue, should ride from Gloucester to Winchester unawares upon the lady [Emma]; and they deprived her of all the treasures that she had; which were immense; because she was formerly very hard upon the king her son, and did less for him than he wished before he was king, and also since …”

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Entry for Year 1043

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WINCHESTER

Late 1040’s A.D.

“Is the tomb secure?”

Queen Emma’s question hung in the air for a few moments, sending a coarse echo through the chilled stones of the underground hallway. The abbess of Wherwell, who had served as Emma’s prison warden before following her here to Winchester, blinked at the queen through tightly-narrowed lids. Abbess Mildred’s woolen wimple wrapped her hair and neck completely, leaving nothing but a small weaselly face to peer out at the queen. The manner of cruelty suggested by Mildred’s beady eyes never ceased to amaze Emma, especially when compared to the kind but sharp-witted soul that actually lurked behind them. Those same eyes now twinkled with a combination of daring and caution.

“I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘secure,’” said the abbess with her nasally voice.

Queen Emma stared into the flickering shadows of the Old Minster before her. Once upon a time, this hollow chamber full of shifting shadows and the ghostly echo of silence might have sparked her imagination and ignited many nightmares. Now, as an old woman of nearly sixty years who had seen murder, war, and treachery of every sort, she took comfort in such darkness and quietude. She could imagine little that would frighten her beyond what she had already witnessed. These days, she only feared that her own life would be forgotten, or—maybe worse—that people would remember her for false and vile deeds she never committed.

She sighed heavily, tiring of the game she must play, and at last replied, “By secure, I mean that my prayer will fall on friendly ears, and none other.”

“It is secure enough for that, my lady. Only the Lord and His own good agents will hear your prayers.” A smile cracked Mildred’s thin lips. “Of that I can assure you.”

“Thank you, Mildred.” Emma moved forward, her robes whispering against the stones.

“Stop there.”

A hard shoulder knocked Emma’s as a housecarl moved around her. Emma jolted, having forgotten the warrior’s presence. The iron of his sword flashed in the candlelight and his chain mail jangled with obscene loudness. Even now, after all the humiliation she had suffered, Queen Emma had not grown accustomed to the rudeness with which King Edward’s guards treated her. No matter what the charges against her, they should never forget that she had been the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more.

The housecarl continued his brazen sweep of the chamber, grabbing a torch from the wall and thrusting its flames into the shadows of the Old Minster. Eventually, he approached the tomb of Saint Swithin, Emma’s own destination.

Abbess Mildred’s piercing voice rang suddenly through the room. “May God forgive you,” she cried, “for your appalling disrespect for his holy ground. For I certainly do not!”

The housecarl stopped and turned, baring his grimy teeth. Emma gulped, recognizing the man as one of Earl Goodwin’s guards rather than King Edward’s. Some time ago that would have been significant, back when Edward still had his wits about him and recognized Lord Goodwin as one of his most dangerous opponents. Now Goodwin had slithered into King Edward’s mind like a snake through his ear, convincing Edward to turn against his own mother, while Edward continued to trust one of the most skilled liars in all of Engla-lond. Goodwin certainly shared some of the skills of his “great uncle,” Eadric Streona the silver-tongued traitor, even if the two were never really related by blood.

The thought of Eadric the Grasper seemed to transport her to another time and place, through a maze of lies and treacheries, into the miserable years of her role as King Ethelred’s wife, to the moment that Eadric changed the fate of the country forever …

Weighed down by the burden of her memories, Emma hunched into the embrace of her linen robes. A lock of her gray hair brushed her chin, having escaped the snug wrap of her wimple and crown. She let it stay there as a reminder of how her own dignity was unraveling. She preferred to huddle in the reality of her modest clothing than fall too deeply into her own mind. Sometimes, remembering the figures of her past felt like stepping into a room full of cobwebs. If she touched one memory, all the others would cling and pull at her until she drowned in their silky grasp.

“Lady Emma will not be able to escape from this room,” said Abbess Mildred to the housecarl, returning Emma’s mind to her current predicament. “We’re underground, for heaven’s sake. Can the poor woman not have just a few moments of privacy before she …” Mildred choked on her own high-pitched voice. She turned away, but couldn’t hide that her beady little eyes blinked back tears. “Before she must face judgment?” (more…)

The Tenth Lost Tale: Edmund the Aetheling

In the tenth and final Lost Tale, young prince Edmund suspects a plot against his father’s life. He turns to his siblings, Aydith and Aethelstan, for help, but King Ethelred heeds none of them. Will they ever find someone they can trust?

Written by Jayden Woods, Edited by Malcolm Pierce

To read this tale in another format, such as Epub, Mobibook (for Kindle Readers), or Pdf, go here: http://www.feedbooks.com/userbook/15574

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Dear Reader,

Today I release the tenth and last Lost Tale of Mercia, “Edmund the Aetheling.” Right where this short story ends, the novel will begin.

It has been a pleasure writing the Lost Tales and sharing them with you. On the Tuesday two weeks from now, October 5th, the full novel, Eadric the Grasper, releases on Amazon.

Sincerely,

Jayden Woods

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… it was told the king, that [the Danes] would beshrew him of his life, and afterwards all his council, and then have his kingdom without any resistance.”

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Entry for Year 1002

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LUNDENBURG

1002 A.D.

Edmund put his hand over his mouth to trap his own breath, but his lungs continued heaving like a blacksmith’s bellows. His gloved fingers clutched the sword at his belt, a heavy thing that normally seemed presumptuous for a boy thirteen years of age, but now seemed the only thing capable of saving his life. Its primary flaw was that pulling it from its sheath would cause noise—noise he could not afford to make.

The boots around the corner shuffled against the stone, steel trinkets clinked, a cloak whooshed … and then all sounds faded as the source retreated.

A groan of dismay ripped from Edmund’s throat as he removed his hand from his lips. He clutched his chest as if his heart might escape. He could not believe what he had just overheard. It would take him a long while to make sense of it—time he was not sure he had.

He stumbled as he made his way back into the palace, his feet like blocks of wood on his legs. He went over the words in his memory over and over again, trying to unroll the plot they contained. But the more he unraveled the strings, the more easily they seemed to tangle in his mind.

(more…)

The Ninth Lost Tale: Runa the Wife

Runa expects to live her entire life isolated in the woods until she meets Thorkell the Tall. She tries to conform to society through a traditional marriage, but at a very high cost to them both.

Written by Jayden Woods, Edited by Malcolm Pierce

To read this tale in another format, such as Epub, Mobibook (for Kindle Readers), or Pdf, go here: http://www.feedbooks.com/userbook/15350

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JOM

1001-1006 A.D.

She awoke in his heavy arms, and at first she panicked. The memories of the night before came back to her in shattered pieces. He chased her through the woods. She jumped on him from a tree and they fell in a breathless tangle. The underbrush scraped her back. His wiry beard tickled her stomach. They laughed, they groaned … they grew silent.

Now his breath roared and faded behind her, up and down the back of her neck, steady as an ocean current. She looked down at his large hands, still clasped around her stomach. He was the most magnificent man she had ever met. Thorkell the Tall … they did not call him so without reason. Her small fingers traced the thick, golden hair of his arms. He had returned to Jom with the rest of his army, victorious over Olaf Tryggvason. He had proved himself a mightier Jomsviking than his own brother, Jarl Sigvaldi, chief of Jomsborg. He could have had any woman he wanted, willing or otherwise. But she had not even given him a chance to choose. She wanted him for herself, so she lured him into the woods and she took him. Now what?

Now she was done with him.

She took hold of his hand and slid it like sand from her body. He sighed and shifted, but otherwise showed no signs of waking. The rumble of his breath almost made her want to fall back against him and drift into his dreams, but she resisted. She slipped gracefully from his relaxed grip and into the free air. She draped her dress over her skin, a light gray garment that looked blue in vivid sunshine and left very few lines of her body to the imagination. She left her hair loose and ruffled, a swirling and tangled mass of pale yellow strands, as wild and free as her own spirit. Then she tip-toed away.

Only once did she glance back at Thorkell, his partially-clothed body draped across the forest bed. His skin looked coarse where the shadows fell upon it, but seemed to gleam as smoothly as gold in the sunshine. The muscles of his torso were a sight to behold, bulging and tightening with the slightest motion, yet softening into a gentle ripple of his strength when he relaxed. She had observed this phenomenon many times the night before.

Leaving him now would be an unfortunate loss. But that loss was little compared to her freedom.

With a sad smile, she turned and hurried away. (more…)

The Seventh Lost Tale: Hildred the Maid

In the year 1005 A.D., a terrible famine strikes Engla-lond. When a poor young woman named Hildred is desperate enough to break the law for her survival, a rising thegn named Eadric takes her fate in his hands.

Written by Jayden Woods, Edited by Malcolm Pierce

To read this tale in another format, such as Epub, Mobibook (for Kindle Readers), or Pdf, go here: http://www.feedbooks.com/userbook/14780

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This year was the great famine in England so severe that no man ere remembered such.”

–Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Entry For Year 1005 A.D.

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Shrewsbury, Mercia

1005 A.D.

 

On her way to church that morning, anger poisoned Hildred’s devotion. She knew that she was supposed to worship God with a pure and loving heart, but she also doubted that God would notice one way or another. After all, He clearly didn’t see—nor care—what was happening to her body, nor the bodies of her entire family, most of whom were dead.

The majority of the people trudging on the same dirt path to the church suffered more than she. Their skin lay flat on their bones and their raggedy clothes flapped loose on their joints. This was the worst famine any of them had seen in their lifetimes. Hildred fared better than them only because so many of her own family members had died in the last few years, leaving fewer mouths to feed.

Her eyes stung at the thought, but her physical discomfort overcame the torments of her mind. Her belly ached and her muscles trembled. For weeks she had lived on little more than nuts and water. What money she and her father had, they used to buy milk for the baby. A year ago, Hildred’s mother died giving birth to him. Somehow, little Coenred had survived, and lived still. He was growing sick, and he slept much more than a baby should sleep, and every instance he squirmed and cried came as a relief.

When she awoke this morning, she did so with the determination to save her baby brother no matter what. Perhaps that was why she dressed herself nicely today. She donned a soft linen dress that once belonged to her mother. She untangled her long brown hair with a pick and splashed her face with stream-water. She was not even sure why. It was a desperate clutch for pride and hope, she thought. When she knelt and prayed to God, perhaps He would notice her at last. Perhaps He would pay attention. And then He would show her mercy.

She heard a disturbance behind her and turned to see two horses galloping up the road. As they neared the pedestrians, the riders gave half-hearted tugs on their horses’ reins, but gave no indication that they would slow down to an agreeable pace. The townsfolk murmured and pushed one another as they tried to get out of the way.

The horses had little choice but to skid to a walk or trample some human beings, so they cast clouds of bitter dust into the air and snorted with dismay. Standing defiantly in place, Hildred glared back at the two riders shuffling closer. One of them was older and more rugged than the other, his wolfish hair and beard shaded gray, his large hand on the hilt of his sword as he yelled, “Make way for Thegn Eadric!”

(more…)