Stars and Mirrors

I am my creativity
no longer do I belong
to myself, but to all
who read me, see me

stars and mirrors
I break apart into words,
images, sounds, music
I am not mine anymore

my breath is stardust
my sighs are laced with
drops of ink, splattered
onto pages of souls

I dissolve into words
all of me is broken up
into little letters made
and erased with one stroke

I am my creativity
stars and mirrors
my breath is stardust
I dissolve into words.

Soul Machine, a collection of poetry, will be out soon! Sign up here so you don’t miss book releases and special deals 🙂

Pirates, Zombies, and Colonialists, Oh My!

Hello lovelies, and happy Thursday! Today I bring you an excerpt from Warriors, book two of the Shard Trilogy, as well as this super-duper exciting announcement: the release date! Yes indeedy, come March 15th you’ll be able to hold Warriors in your hands…er, on your phone/Kindle/tablet. Get excited!! Ahem. Anyway, here it is.

And remember, you can grab Pirates, book one of the Shard Trilogy, on Amazon Kindle, or read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Two weeks is just enough time to finish book one before book two is released, so get yo’self over there, friend!

It was a warm, summer evening in Lagos, Nigeria. Most people were settling down for the night and the only real clamor was aboard two ships that lay in port, filled with slaves who were to be shipped off the following morning. The trade was at its peak and had in fact reached a near-frenzy since talk of abolishing slavery had begin to spring up in England. But for the moment, the business of slavery was quite safe, still flourishing and in high demand.

Outside of Lagos, two bedraggled figures—a mother and her teenage son—hurried away from the port city, the shackles that bound their wrists clinking as they moved. They were sweating and their faces were tear-stained, but they were also determined to get away before their absence was noticed.

Iya,” the young man said to his struggling mother, “we must hurry. If they notice we’re gone—“

“Go then, Siju. I cannot keep up with you. You must save yourself.”

He gripped his mother’s arm, pulling her with him. “No. I will not leave you. We’ve come this far—you can do it. Come on.”

For a while they continued on like this, but after another hour, his mother collapsed onto the sandy ground. Siju sighed deeply, feeling his mother’s weariness but able to carry it better because of his youth. His physical youth, at least—he was only fifteen, but he felt fifty. He knelt beside her and rubbed her back soothingly, deciding that they could afford a short rest. Besides, there was no way that she could take another step in this state.

He looked around them, trying to see if there was a place that they could hide for a while. Perhaps he was overestimating the slavers’ desire and ability to come after them, but then again, he had an idea of how much slaves were worth. He doubted that they would let two such valuable pieces of merchandise get away. At that thought, he clenched his teeth. Merchandise. That’s all we are to them.

They had been running just inside the trees that grew along the shore. He could see through their trunks to the vast ocean, lit up by the moon and stars like a rippling galaxy. There would be no hiding there, obviously. On his left were the trees, which grew thicker and thicker further away from the shore. He supposed that they could go in among the trees to hide, but that would only be temporary, and they would leave an easy-to-follow trail of trampled undergrowth behind them. No, they would simply have to keep going.

Iya,” he said softly, stroking his mother’s hair, “we need to go. We can rest again a little further along.”

“Go without me, Siju,” she said again, her voice ragged. “I got you out, and that’s all I wanted to do. You can be free.”

“Stop saying that,” he said firmly. “Either we both get away, or we both get caught. I’m not leaving you. I—“ he broke off as a sudden splashing sound reached his ears, and his head snapped toward the ocean, instantly alert.

Out of the waters, like some kind of mystical apparition, came a man, stumbling along and fighting against the current. Siju watched as the man’s shoulders emerged, then his waist, then his knees. A foul stench came with him, like a body that has been without life for three or four days, and the man looked bloated and pale, like a corpse. Siju’s breath caught in his throat and he could taste bile, a reaction to the repulsive odor.

His mother, too, was staring at the thing, her eyes wide and terrified. “A fumbi,” she said breathlessly, so quiet that Siju could barely hear her. “An undead spirit. Loa help us. Siju, get away from here, now.” Her voice was frantic and high-pitched, so unlike the calm, soothing voice he knew.

Siju’s thoughts scrambled around his brain, trying to order themselves. Was this really an undead man? It certainly looked that way, and he supposed his mother, a Vodun mambo, would know. The bloated, chalky-skinned creature continued to walk towards them, strange, gurgling sounds coming from its throat. It seemed to be trying to talk to them, but all that came out was slurred gibberish, marred by seawater. Siju’s horror nearly overcame both him and his familial protectiveness, and it was all he could do not to bolt in the opposite direction, with or without his mother.

But he refused to leave her. Accessing strength he never knew he had, he dragged his mother to her feet and pulled her along with him through the underbrush, trying to put as much distance between them and the fumbi as possible. He blundered on through the thinner layer of trees, pushing branches out of the way and hoping against hope that they weren’t leaving too much of a trail, though he knew a blind man could follow the clues they were leaving. But he had to try, for his mother’s sake and for his own, and so her pushed on.

It seemed like an eternity passed before the sun finally rose. Both Siju and his mother were long past exhaustion, and they trembled as they staggered along, sweat dripping from their bodies as though they’d been in the water. Every now and then, Siju glanced behind them, making sure that the fumbi was not following them.

He could not see the creature any longer, but he also couldn’t relax about it. He had been a private skeptic of Vodun until now, despite his mother’s firm belief in it, but he could not shake the terror he’d felt upon seeing the undead spirit—nor could he get the thing’s stench out of his nose. It was a pure abomination of nature that such a thing was allowed to walk the earth.

But he slowly became aware of other sounds—harsh, animalistic sounds that made his mouth go even drier than it already was and that made his heart race. Dogs. They’re coming for us, and they have dogs. Siju wiped sweat from his forehead and looked down at his mother. She was breathing heavily and her eyes were closed, and her whole body was shaking.

This is it, Siju realized with the sudden calm that comes with accepting one’s fate. We can go no further. They’ll find us. No one can escape dogs. Trembling, he fell to his knees in the cool, white sand. If he had it in him, he might have wept, but as it was he could only stare numbly in the direction of the sound of dogs barking and men shouting.

What would happen to him and his mother now? He’d heard stories of escaped slaves being whipped to within an inch of their lives, or even being beheaded on the spot when they were found. At best they would be dragged back to the ships and then taken to some faraway land, forced to work like animals beneath the hot sun.

He shuddered and laid himself protectively over his mother’s shaking body, gritting his teeth. They would have to kill him before they could get to her. Siju had promised his father Bandele when he was dying three years ago that he would look after her, and he was determined to keep that promise. Let them come, he thought. I’ll rip them to shreds with my bare hands if I have to.

***If you enjoyed the excerpt, grab Pirates now so you’ll be all ready when Warriors comes out on March 15th!

Surrender

After a long and weary road of being Jonah, I have once again (finally) come to the conclusion that surrender is, after all, a beautiful thing. Whether we run away from God because of hurt or pain or apathy or anger or whatever other reason, we only end up hurting ourselves in the process. Surrendering to God always brings intense relief, peace, contentment, and a sense of grounding. The floor is no longer shaking beneath my feet-it’s solid and real.

I don’t know why I keep doing this, but either way, it’s good to be back in His arms. It’s not safe, and it’s not easy, but it’s the best and most peaceful place to be. The most secure.

A while ago, I wrote this poem, and I’ve shared it a few times on this blog. But I keep experiencing layers of it, and today is yet another day when Like a Dance is relevant, so here it is once again. Happy Monday, everyone. xxx

Like a Dance

I am not interested in the mediocre.
Destiny, breathless, alive, fire.
These are a few of my favorite words.
I am not interested in living on the edge;
I am interested in jumping off it.

Let me fade, let Him grow clearer.
Where I am, I am in the way.
Where I walk, I walk in the wrong direction.
He is a breathless symphony;
He is the beat in my heart
and the fire in my chest.

Where I am mediocre,
He is extravagant.
Where words fail me,
His song always prevails.

He is adventure; He is love.
He is raging fire; He is a silent wind.

Being with Him is like a dance;
a dance none of us know,
a dance we once knew
and now must learn.

He leads and we follow;
He goes and we go after,
into places strange, unseen.

God of mountains, God of seas
God of the tempest and the firestorm:
take me there.

The Words That Make Us

I used to think that there was something wrong with me because I enjoy most genres of books, movies, and music. There is this unwritten, insinuated “rule” that if you like all things, you lack passion or conviction. But luckily other people’s ideas about what passion is, or what constitutes conviction, doesn’t have to define you.

I enjoy almost all books except tedious ones (Dickens, I’m looking at you) or ones that are badly written. And I think that as a writer, particularly, or as any kind of artist, it’s important to read widely. To read out of your comfort zone. I enjoy it when I read an Agatha Christie book, or a children’s book, or a sprawling, complex fantasy like A Song of Ice and Fire. I love the classics and I love Brian Jacque’s Redwall series.

You really only have something to gain, the more widely you read. I have lost myself in countless worlds with countless characters, fighting against countless evils and finally coming to countless happy endings (or not). I have faced fears and either succeeded gloriously or failed miserably, and both are important experiences to endure. I have discovered that I have what it takes after all, and I have discovered that I don’t. I have lived and lost a thousand lives and climbed a thousand mountains and seen a thousand seas.

That said, words become a part of you. There is a reason why I chose the books I did to reread every year. The treasure of reading, and in taking in any art form, is in letting it become a part of you. To let it seep into you and form your thoughts and identity. So in that sense, we should be careful what we allow to become a part of ourselves. I wouldn’t read The Silence of the Lambs every year, for example. Words are so much more real and powerful than we give them credit for, and as a reader and writer, I think it’s good to have a healthy respect for them, and use them wisely.

But read widely. Expand yourself. Don’t be afraid of a wider world.

If you’re on Goodreads, add me! I always love finding new avid readers and freaking out about books with you 🙂

Warriors: Book Two

Cover reveeeeeeaaaaal! I mean, okay, if you follow me on Instagram (@veroniquewrites) or Facebook, you’ve already seen it, but this is Warriors in its full-scale, beautiful glory! I’m working on it full steam (mostly editing at this point) and the feedback I’ve gotten for Pirates so far has been super encouraging. These characters are my characters and I’ve loved them for EVER and it’s kind of cool knowing that other people love them too.

Anyway, this is more of a reminder that you can actually totally get Warriors for free once it’s released in March (it was going to be February, but with Husband’s surgery and other life things the date was pushed back a little). Here’s how!

  1. Leave a review for Pirates on Amazon by February 28th
  2. Share your review on Facebook and tag my page in it so I know you’ve done it

That’s it! This isn’t a contest so if you do these two things you’re guaranteed to get the book.

Muuuuuuch much love
-V