Seeking Mercy (Sith of Time Book 1)
One man, two-timelines, and a love for the ages—or to shatter her heart.
A time-traveling gargoyle seeks to alter the strings of time, but a demon bent on a blood war stands in her way, threatening to eradicate her and those she loves.
The Dráèek Kingdom, 1815. Mercy Hall, a member of the Gargouille Codex Clan, is forced to watch the execution of her brethren. Injured, she flees from blood-thirsty soldiers and crash-lands in the woods. Seeking safety, she climbs into a hollowed-out tree trunk submerged in water. In the blink of an eye, she ends up a captive in the middle of a war in the West Region of the IV Kingdom, 1715—a hundred years in the past.
Stranded amid danger, she discovers her only chance of survival lies in a human named Ambrose—from the House of Drak. But the dark, soulful music he composes both frightens her as well as speaks to her soul. Mercy finds herself torn between two irreconcilable lives and Ambrose, The Just King of the Tagnikźur Kingdom.
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AL: Why do you write?
IF: Throughout the years, many ideas have cluttered my mind. I need to make some room up there; the space is limited. The only way to do it, is by getting some out, on paper, or computer, so more can develop.
AL: Do you write full-time or part-time?
IF: I write full-time. In the last few years, I’ve averaged about two full0-length novels per year.
AL: Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day?
IF: In a perfect world, I would like to write something every single day. In reality, I write when the inspiration hits. Sometimes, a week or two may pass with barely one thousand forced words on the page, then the next week, my fingers type out fifteen thousand. That process has worked for me thus far. But it doesn’t mean that when I’m not writing, I don’t think about it. My mind is always at work. So, I spend some weeks plotting in my head—other weeks, I release the information on paper.
AL: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
IF: I write on my computer. When I travel, I always take my laptop with me. Never know when that next chapter will scream in my mind to be let out. But, in my early twenties, I wrote by hand. I have to admit, I loved it, writing, regardless of the method or platform used. There is always something magical when you see the words come alive on paper.
AL: Do you work to an outline or plot (plotter-planner), or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you (pantser)?
IF: I’m a combination of the two. My outline is always in my head. With a firm beginning, end, and a main plot, I have a direction. I tried to write an outline before, and I had to toss it. I wasted time and energy, only to find myself constricted by the words. I tend to feel obligated to follow something written, and it drove me nuts. In my mind, I can change course, plots, add twists and turns without the stress of deviating from an initial plan.
AL: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
IF: Sometimes I go back and read the stories I wrote before learning about a novel’s structure, conflict, character development and world building. Every time I take a peek, I want to start editing, fix them. But I stop myself. I have come a long way, learned a great deal, and I need those ‘beginner mistakes’ to remind me of the progress I made along the way. There is always room to improve, and I’ll probably never be completely satisfied with my own work. At least I like it better now.
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“What do you want to eat?” My husband, Val, stood at the front door, keys in hand.
“Whatever. You pick.” Over the years, I’ve learned to mask the fear of eating out with a shrug of a shoulder and a smile. “What sounds good to you?”
Like most married couples, the rundown of the impending restaurant list loomed over our heads.
“How about a sandwich place?”
“No.” I shook my head. “We had Hoagies the day before yesterday.”
Another shrug followed by a head shake.
“What about biscuits and gravy? You always like that?”
A deep sigh crept inside me, waiting to escape my lips.
“Then what do you want to eat?” The corner of his lip twitched in that ever so patient way he has of mulling over the list of food topics. “How about Chili’s. You love their potato soup.”
He’s right, as usual, I do love their Loaded Baked Potato Soup. “Okay. That sounds good.”
The drive, a hop and a skip from the house, gave me time to ponder what I really wanted to eat. A creature of habit, I rarely stray from a normal routine. Heck, my kids and husband even know what I’m going to order at the handful of places we eat. Actually, I’m more than sure the waitstaff does, too, which is sad in itself.
Settled in the restaurant, in the booth, we always seem to be seated at, which we refer to as our table, a new waitress approached with a smile on her face that touched the twinkle in her eyes.
“What can I get you two to drink?” The waitress placed two menus on the table.
The menus, slick and clean, displayed an array of enticing foods; foods I’d never tried before because of the allergies.
“Tea with no sugar.” Val picked up a menu and started browsing the options. “And some nachos . . . beans and cheese only, no meat. And some jalapenos . . . make that lots of jalapenos on the side.”
“We can do that.” A smile danced across her lips. “What would you like to drink, ma’am?”
“Tea with creamer.” Sucking in a deep breath, I prepared for the long-winded conversation about to take place; the list of the offending food. “I have several allergies . . . peanuts, paprika, beef, black olives . . .”
“That’s okay.” The waitress grabbed the kiosks and brought up the allergy menu. “Let’s see what’s on the list.”
“Okay.” I half-heartedly skimmed the options with her; however, my eyes were drawn to the opened menu. To be more precise, they were glued to the lunch special section; one picture in particular—the chicken fajitas. “I never eat anything different.” The deep-seated sigh, the one from earlier, finally escaped my lips. “I’ll just take the potato soup.”
The waitress, in tune with the happenings at the table, turned her attention to my menu. “What were you looking at?”
“The chicken fajitas. But I better play it safe and eat the soup.”
“Let me find out from the kitchen what’s in them.” With that, she walked away. However, she soon returned with the manager in tow.
I had run into the manager, Mary Cervantes, before, and she’s one of the reasons, a big reason, why I eat at Chili’s. For one, she runs a clean and friendly establishment, and she’s always personable. And no matter how busy the restaurant is, she continuously has a genuine smile on her face.
“I hear there’s a food allergy at the table.” Mary approached the booth with that telltale smile that makes a patron feel welcome. “And I hear you were thinking about the fajitas.”
“Yes. But I’m sure there’s paprika in them.”
I went through the allergy spill again.
“I will just play it safe and eat soup like I always do,” I replied.
“Well,” said Mary. “We can steam the onions and bell peppers to avoid cross contamination, and cook the meat in an individual skillet without the normal spices since they contain paprika.” She paused for a moment and seemed to be taking in the nervous energy I was exuding. “And I’ll personally cook the food.” She paused, again, allowing me time to absorb her words. “What do you say? Would you like to try something different today . . . the chicken fajitas?”
“Yes. I would.”
It wasn’t until I uttered those three words that I realized what I truly wanted to eat. I wanted something different; something outside of the norm for me, which is actually, a scary feat for an individual with several food allergies. Especially, for a person who has been intubated twice because of those severe food allergies.
Mary Cervantes held true to her words. She even brought out my dish, personally, which I can honestly say, was the best tasting chicken fajitas I’d ever had in a restaurant.
What made them special to me? It was the fact, Mary took customer service to a whole new level. As a manager, she listened to both the health needs and food choice desire of her patron, and she created a tasty dish, which is why, I’ll continue to eat at Chili’s; her Chili’s.
People like Mary Cervantes are the best part of humanity because they care about others. She didn’t have to do what she did. No. She could have just let me go with the tried and true soup, which is good by the way. However, she took the time to ensure my dish was safe to consume. Now, that’s superior customer service.
Please note: the dialogue is a fictitious recreation of the actual event as I recall it.
April A. Luna
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April A. Luna
April A. Luna (also writes as Michelle L. De La Garza) is an American freelance writer and poet, who lives with her husband and children in Texas.