Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Backcover Blurb For My Novella

   Running a little late today because of doctor appointments and CT scans. Don't have a lot to say this week other than I've been busy with edits, cover designs and beta readers for my novella, "The Princess and the Apprentice". Also had a couple short stories edited to enter a writing contest. Wish me luck!
Part of my prep for publishing this novella is writing a backcover blurb. The first one I wrote sounded more like a synopses so here is a new blurb. Let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading!

 Answering the call for an apprentice mage, Aldan did not foresee the responsibility of protecting a Princess. Neither was falling in love.



Generations have come and gone since the end of the Mage Wars when renegades rebelled against the authority of the Council of Mages. Decimated after their victory, the remaining council members retired to their estates while the High Mage sealed himself inside their mountain fortress. Mages no longer held the trust of the people and magic use was shunned.

An ancient scroll from a previous age, carefully translated by the High Mage, had predicted the war and the subsequent decline in magic. However, it also warned that there would once again come a time of power seeking mages but that one would be born with the power to subdue them and re-establish the Council. A cryptic message at the end of the scroll, penned by a different hand, said simply, “Beware the magic of blood”.

The spirit of the High Mage that still haunts the Citadel, believes that Aldan Beaverson may be the one foretold and helps him with the gift of a Staff of Power. He also believes that Princess Odessa, who Aldan is charged with protecting, is capable of embracing the magic of women; the Blood Magic.

Will the love that blossoms be enough to overcome their differences or will Odessa succumb to the seduction of the Blood? Only time will tell…

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why I Write Light Fantasy

   First of all, let me say that I have nothing against people write and read dark fantasy or any of the horror style stories. Different strokes for different folks and all that. It's just not for me.
   Battling depression for most of my life, reading a depressing story is the last thing I want to do. Having watched my mother slowly die when I was fifteen and then later in life finding myself in the position of being given up for dead by doctors, death is not a topic I treat lightly. Rarely will you find death in my stories and if you do, I handle it with as much compassion and respect as I can give it. You will never see me use the death of a character in a frivolous manor or just to add some un-needed darkness to the story.
   If I find myself getting angry while reading a book, whether because of the actions of a character or for injustices being highlighted, I will stop reading. We are bombarded daily with anger and injustice on the news and online. Why read about it in a book?
   I read and write fantasy that will transport me into another world or reality different from my own. I want characters I can identify with, empathize when things go wrong and share in their joy when things finally work out. Adding humor into my stories is also very important to me even though it is extremely hard since I haven't actually laughed in years. At my age, the depression has progressed to the point where I am either down a little or a lot, never on the upside. Again, this is all in an effort to create a world totally unlike my own.
   If you're looking for a story where the main character is abused, ridiculed and beat down through most of the book, sorry, you won't find that here.

   I may have shared this scene from my fan/fic a while ago but it's one of my favorites so I'm sharing it again. Thanks for reading.

Her thoughts soon turned sour again. Blasted mood swings! She would find a way to make bloody Rand al’Thor pay for the difficulties she’d been experiencing because of her pregnancy. It wasn’t totally his fault but she would make him pay regardless. It was also entirely possible that her mood was being influenced by the pain and despair seeping through the bond from Birgitte. Something was eating at the soul of her friend and Elayne cared too much not to try and help.

“Bloody ashes Birgitte! Will you please sit down and talk to me. I haven’t been able to get more than a few words out of you all day. I can feel the conflict inside of you and it will destroy us both if we can’t find a resolution.”

Birgitte snorted as the faraway look fled from her eyes. “Such language from a Queen. You’ve been spending entirely too much time around soldiers Elayne.” Then in a quiet voice she continued, “Especially a soldier like me.”

Elayne said nothing. The look she gave Birgitte spoke volumes as she pointed to a chair opposite hers. She had assumed the mantle of Queen now and would brook no more nonsense.

“You will not like what I have to say Elayne,” Birgitte murmured.

“I don’t like seeing my dearest friend suffer like this either, so I will just have to find a way to deal with it,” Elayne replied.

She waited patiently as Birgitte struggled with what she needed to say. A flicker of fear began to dance around in the back of Elayne’s mind as the suspicion of what her Warder wanted flared to life.

“You want me to release you from the Warder bond,” she whispered. “Why?”

Taking a ragged breath, Birgitte slowly walked over and sat in the chair facing Elayne. Hands tightly clenched in her lap, she looked up and saw her tears reflected in the eyes of her beloved friend.

“In all of my previous lives, I have never had a sister. You have shown me what I never knew I’d been missing. You have given me a precious gift Elayne. Not only by saving my life but also the gift of the love for a sister. You will always have a special place in my heart.”

“I don’t understand,” Elayne cried softly. “I need you now more than ever. Please don’t ask me to do this.”

“I must.”

Springing up out of the chair, Birgitte began pacing back and forth. She had never been comfortable sitting while trying to marshal her thoughts.

“Do you understand what I am Elayne?”

“Of course. You are Birgitte Silverbow, heroine of the Ages. She who never misses what she aims at.”

“No Elayne. That is who I was and as long as I’m your Warder that is all I’ll ever be. But that is beside the point. What I am is a hero tied to the Horn of Valere. I must be available to answer the call when Mat blows the Horn at the Last Battle.”

Unable to hold back her tears, Elayne struggled to control her voice. “What are you saying Birgitte? Do you want to die?”

“No one wants to die,” Birgitte murmured as past memories of death rose up to haunt her. “But I am afraid. I shouldn’t be here Elayne. Moghedien ripped my soul out of the World of Dreams and thrust me into the world of the living. Her intention was to see me die the final death and I would have if you hadn’t bonded me, giving me a link to this world. I have felt the Pattern twisting itself around trying to fit me in.”

Stopping at the side table where one of the servants had thoughtfully left a pitcher of wine and a pitcher of goat’s milk, she poured herself a cup of wine and after a moment of indecision, poured another one for Elayne. The Queen wasn’t supposed to have anything other than goat’s milk during her pregnancy but Birgitte felt they both needed something stronger.

Returning to her chair, she handed the cup of wine to Elayne and at her questioning look Birgitte smiled, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

“Why now?” Elayne asked.

“It seems that one of the requirements for being a Hero of the Horn is sensitivity to the needs of the Pattern. Maybe that is why so many of us are born over and over, each time accomplishing something important. Gaidal and I have lived more lives than any other because we are the most sensitive to the Pattern. Yesterday I became aware of what the Pattern requires of me. Somehow I am now tied to Mat. If I am not with him he might die and the Last Battle will be lost before it ever begins.”

“Birgitte, I know that Mat blew the Horn of Valere and he seems to have a certain flair for fighting but Rand is the one who is destined to battle the Dark One and save the world.”

Birgitte leaned forward and gripped Elayne’s knee, her braid of golden hair falling from her shoulder. “Think Elayne. Even if that too handsome man of yours manages to seal the Dark One back up in his prison, what then? Will the hundreds of thousands of Trollocs just roll over and die? Will the Seanchen shake their heads, disappointed that they missed the Last Battle, climb back onto their boats and head for home?”

“Of course not. We have one of the largest armies ever assembled along with the greatest military minds of this age. We will deal with the Trollocs first and then push the Seanchen back on their ships whether they want to go or not.”

Bounding out of her chair, Birgitte resumed her pacing. How to make Elayne understand? Her need to find Mat had become almost painful. It was like an itch she couldn’t scratch. The worst part was she knew she couldn’t do anything until he returned from his insane quest into the Tower of Ghenjei. That would have to stay a secret for now but maybe he would forgive her for revealing just one of his many secrets.

Her eyes glazed over as she remembered the desperate, blood soaked battles many generations in the past. “I fought and died several times during the Trolloc Wars Elayne. It took many lifetimes before they were finally defeated. Your armies are impressive but from the number of Trollocs rumored to be massing at the border, they will roll over your armies like a storm flattens a field of young wheat. Your armies are too fragmented with different loyalties and agendas. You must have one Marshal-General in command of all the armies to have a chance. Who will you choose? Toward the end of the war when all looked lost, one man stepped forward. He rallied the nations together and fought with cunning and a certain amount of luck until they finally drove the Trollocs back across the border.”

Coming to a stop in front of Elayne, her body quivering with emotion, their eyes locked.

“That man was Mat.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Polishing Will Reveal The Imperfections In Your Word Gems

   On the one hand, I can say I've made no progress because there are no shiny new words gracing the pages of my notebook. On the other hand, I can say I've made some progress because I've taken words that have become dull and spent time polishing them. Unfortunately, you can polish garbage all you want and still end up with garbage.
   Sometimes you just have to scoop up all the words from the page, put them back in their box and go find another box with new words. There are numerous reasons why some of those words no longer shine. Maybe your story has taken an unexpected turn and the foreshadowing you put in no longer applies to the story. Or the relationship between your characters takes a turn that enhances the story but makes earlier conversations seem out of place. Bottom line is you need a solid foundation of polished stones to hold up those sparkly gems you're so proud of.
   The other thing I've been spending time on is a book cover for my novella. I can't afford to hire someone to design a cover for me and also be able to pay a professional editor. To me, editing is more important than a fancy cover. I've been going to different online sites trying to come up with something that looks good enough not to scare readers away. One of my online friends has taken pity on me and volunteered to put a cover together. That is a huge load off of my mind.

   This week is another short scene from my fan/fic. Rand and Perrin come together after being apart for over a year. Thanks for reading.

   A hush fell over all who were gathered there. The two men stood no more than five feet apart and stared into each other’s eyes. One set the color and hardness of blue-grey gemstones, the other, golden soft like those of a wolf. The air around them began to warp and shift as if the Pattern was unsure whether to keep them in the waking world or project them into the World of Dreams. Min fell to the ground, blinded by the light and the swarm of images swirling around the two ta’veren. The others stood frozen as if time had come to a standstill.

   “He almost had me, Perrin.”

   “I know. I was there.”

   Rand frowned and his eyes narrowed as he studied the man in front of him who had once been his best friend. “What do you mean?”

   “I was there on top of Dragon Mount, along with the spirits of every wolf, alive or dead in the Wolf Dream. Somehow the wolves knew that the fate of the world hinged on the outcome of your fight. They knew that if you won, they would have a chance to fight in the Last Battle. If you lost, they would be lost as well. I don’t know what it was like for you, but in the Dream it was as if all the darkness in the world was poured out there. The souls of the damned screamed in the wind and lightning bolts fell like rain. It was all I could do to keep from being swept away and destroyed. The darkness flowed around and through you until you were no longer visible. I thought all was lost until a crack formed in the black shell and a ray of pure light shown through. More and more cracks formed until the entire shell exploded in a flash of intense light and a column of light poured up into the sky. You vanished along with the storm and we knew you had overcome the dark. What I would like to know is how.”

   “The hope of life Perrin. I realized that as long as men can hope for love and a better future, they have a reason to live. That is what he wants to take away from us. If he can remove all hope from men, they will have no reason to live. I also allowed Min, Elayne and Aviendha to bond me. The love that flows through the bond from them was enough to give me an anchor to cling to. Without that I would have been lost.”

   A smile broke out of the confines of Perrin’s beard as he laughed at his old friend. “And here I thought you knew more about women than I did. Light, Rand! I can barely handle one woman who loves me. What are you going to do with three?”

   “Me? You were always the one who knew how to talk to the girls. I figure they will probably tell me how I am to handle them,” Rand smiled back.

   “You have no idea how much it lifts my spirit to see you smile again. The smile fits the boy I grew up with but your eyes and smell tell me a different story. I sense ageless wisdom, power and strength that does not belong to the simple sheepherder I knew. Who are you?”

   “I have always been him and he has always been me, Perrin. I finally grew up to be the man I used to be. I am Rand al’Thor, the Dragon.”

   Rand took a moment to study the man standing before him. Did Perrin realize just how much he had changed?

   “And who are you, my old friend? When last we met, you were a simple blacksmith desperately trying to deal with the changes in his world and in himself. The person I see before me now is a king the likes of which this world has never seen. I can sense the Pattern twisting and wrapping around you in an attempt to conform to your will. However, behind that powerful exterior I see a pit filled with pain and loss, some of which is connected to your hammer. Who did you lose, Perrin?”

   Perrin squeezed his eyes shut trying not to let the tears show as Rand’s words reverberated through his soul. The pain of loss was still too fresh. Taking the hammer from his shoulder, he held it out before him and opened his eyes to stare at it.

   “The first rule of a blacksmith is that you must understand all of the parts and how they work together before you can create something useful. That applies not only to the making of this hammer but to myself as well. The one whose soul is forged into this hammer helped me understand the parts of me that needed to be forged to become the man I needed to be. The first time I heard the term ‘the Wolf King’ I laughed thinking how the wolves would react to that. Now I understand that it never meant being the king of the wolves. I am the Wolf King, Rand, and I carry the hammer of a king.”

   “I am sorry for your losses Perrin, and maybe someday you will be able to tell me about them. What is important now, are we still friends?”

   Without hesitation, Perrin reached out to grasp the hand that Rand proffered. “Friends. Always and forever.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is That My Character or Is It Me?

   I've come to realize that as I'm writing male characters, I put a lot of myself into them. This is probably not a good thing since, honestly, I'm not that interesting of a person. My characters end up too serious, speak formally when they do speak and rarely laugh at anything. They're moody and hard for the reader to connect with.
   It's unfortunate I didn't see that until an editor pointed out the difference in how my male characters spoke compared to the others. I could never understand why everyone loved my female characters but had a hard time identifying with the males. Now I know why. I wonder if it's because when writing from a woman's POV, I have no standard to compare them to and therefore she acts any way she wants to?
   Apparently I must hold all the men to the only standard I'm familiar with and that is my own. It would be fine if one of the secondary characters acted like me but not the main protagonist. Somehow I will have to find a way to make my lead male more vibrant and with traits unfamiliar to me.
   I wonder how many writers, men or women, endow their characters with the same set of feelings, thoughts and attitudes as themselves? All I know is that I've a job ahead trying to eliminate all the Mini-ME's.

   Once again for this week, another short scene from my Fan/Fic.
   Thanks for reading!


   Afraid that he was stepping into a lion’s den, Androl followed the plump Aes Sedai into her hut. What he saw was typical of many of the huts being shared by some of the Asha’man. Two beds to one side, a desk and washstand on the other with a small table and two chairs in the middle. A single lantern gave off a dim light from on top of the desk. A small, round stove sat in the corner with a brightly colored kettle of water just beginning to steam. One small cup sat on the table next to a white jar covered in blue flowers. Apparently he had interrupted the Aes Sedai in the process of making tea.

   Gliding quickly to the other side of the table, so that it was between them, she appeared uneasy being alone in the hut with him but trying not to show it. If only she knew how weak in the Power he was. She was Red Ajah and should be able to stand him on his head with little effort.

   “Who are you and what do you know about the things going on in the Black Tower?” she demanded.

   “Androl Genhold, and what I know would curl your toes, Aes Sedai. For the past several weeks, someone has been using Compulsion on a number of Asha’men here in the Tower. Also, no one is allowed to leave or enter the Tower without the M’Hael’s permission. Opening a gate inside the grounds is no longer possible, and we have been unable to determine if gates still work outside, since none of us have been able to leave.”

   She regarded him a moment longer, then seemed to relax slightly, as if letting something go. Had she been holding the Source in case she needed to protect herself? Considering the position she was in, surrounded by hundreds of men who could channel, he thought it was a safe assumption.

   “Please sit, Master Genhold,” nodding to the chair on his side of the table. Settling into the other chair, she continued. “Pevara Lissen of the Red Ajah, which I’m sure you have already guessed. What you just told me confirms my greatest fear. Two of the Sisters sent here with me have apparently been subjected to some kind of compulsion also. This is such a vile thing that it is something we refuse to study in the White Tower so I have no knowledge of what or if anything can be done.”

   Androl knew that whenever an Aes Sedai made a statement like that, because of their oath to always tell the truth, he had to believe it. His hope that she would know a weave to reverse the compulsion had been a small one.

   “This may sound callous, Pevara Sedai, but I’m afraid that your Sisters and the men I once considered friends, must be left behind and not find out what we plan.”

   Just then, the kettle on the stove started to whistle. As Pevara got up and reached for a cloth to wrap around the handle of the hot kettle, she thought, so he has a plan. Was she so desperate as to listen to the plan of an Asha’man? Unfortunately, she was.

   Pouring some water in her cup, she apologized. “I would offer you some tea, but the woman I share this hut with will become suspicious if she finds two cups on the table.”

   Androl waved the offer aside and waited for her to settle back into her chair before continuing. “Pevara Sedai, those of us who are loyal to Logain must escape the Tower and get word to him or the Lord Dragon about what is happening here. I have no proof, but it appears the M’Hael is turning the Tower against him.”

   He hesitated when he saw the fire of anger and hatred in her eyes when he mentioned Logain’s name. So be it. When you walk into a lion’s den, you had better be a lion yourself. He put some fire in his own eyes and leaned towards her.

   “Let me make one thing clear, Aes Sedai. Whatever you feel towards Logain, the men here respect and look up to him. As soon as he came to the Tower, men started to follow him. They could see he was a man of honor and treated everyone fairly. There are two camps here, Pevara Sedai, one loyal to Logain and one loyal to the M’Hael. Our numbers have been dwindling because men from Logain’s camp are being turned. Those of us loyal to Logain did not come to the Tower for fame or power. We came because we know that every man who can channel will be needed during the Last Battle to fight the Dark One’s hordes. We follow Logain, he follows the Lord Dragon and we will die for either.”

   Pevara was taken aback by the conviction in his voice. Maybe Logain was an honorable man, but he would answer to her someday for the rumors he had spread about the Red Ajah. “You came to me,” she reminded him. “I assume you have a plan, but need my help.”

   “I do have a plan,” he replied. “But it will depend on whether or not you and I can link, or if you are even willing to try. I’m not very strong in the Power, Pevara Sedai, but I do have a special ability with gates. I can make one small enough to cut a single hair on your head or one large enough to drive a wagon through. How large of an opening would you or your Sisters need to be able to bind two men and shield them from the Source?”

   “I only need to be able to see them,” she answered carefully.

   “All the men and their families loyal to Logain, are moving to a barracks close to one of the towers located on the perimeter wall. There are two Asha’men manning each tower for periods of four hours at a time. I believe our best chance will be right after midnight when they rotate the watch. If you and I can link, I can open a small gate behind the two Asha’men big enough for you to see through. If your Sisters can then bind and shield them, we should have enough time to gather at the base of the tower and escape. Once outside the walls, it will be up to you and your Sisters to open a gate for us.”

   “Your plan has merit, Master Genhald,” Pevara admitted. “The weaves of the Sisters will be invisible to any man who happens to look in that direction. Will your men be ready to leave tonight? I would prefer not to spend another night trapped here.”

   “We will be ready. As soon as you arrive at the barracks tonight, we can put our plan into motion. The Light protect us if anything goes wrong.”