Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A New Opportunity

   We have a large, well established mall in our county, but since I can't afford to get out much, I rarely go there. Several weeks ago, however, my wife asked me to go to the mall and buy something for our grand-daughter's birthday from a store she liked there. The place was no longer in business and had been replaced by what you might call a bazaar for local artists and craftsmen. Out of curiosity, I decided to check it out.
   The store was filled with beautiful works of art, hand made jewelry, pottery, racks of embroidery and sweaters, but no books. Well, writers are artists also, right? I approached the owner and asked about the possibility of selling books written by local authors. She loved the idea. For what I thought was a reasonable monthly fee, she would set up a display just inside the front door that would be the first thing people saw when they entered.
   Since I know a large number of local authors, I soon had enough people interested so that each person's share of the rental is only $5. Even if we only sell a few copies, the potential of getting our names and titles out in front of thousands of readers for that price will be worth it.
   I will get the books and money to her by Friday. She'll set up the display on Saturday and it will be ready for the first of the month on Sunday. At the end of May, I'll post the results of our first month in the mall and any positive (or negative) issues that came about.

I don't know if anyone reads the scenes I try to post every week, since no one comments, but here's another. Navon and his companion, Moonlight, (a large, female mountain wolf) step through a portal, unaware of what awaits them on the other side.

Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.

Navon, Moonlight at his side, stepped through the first arch as the last words of the Deluti spirit followed him. “Remember, young Navon, others will look at the world with a different eye than yours, but it does not mean they are without honor.”
The world they entered resembled nothing he had ever seen before. Rolling hills of grass as far as the eye could see, with scattered stands of short bush like trees. At this distance it was impossible to tell what kind of leaves they had if any. The sun shone directly overhead in a cloudless blue sky so expansive, Navon suddenly felt very insignificant.
Sweat formed on his brow and he could feel beads of moisture trickle down his spine as Moonlight’s tongue hung out. A sweltering wind at their backs brought with it a sound like a blacksmith’s forge combined with a stampede of cattle. Navon spun around to be confronted by the source of the noise. Fire! A wall of flame over ten feet in height stretched in both directions as far as he could see. In front of that wall were hundreds of animals of all shapes and sizes running for their lives.
His legs had already reacted to the sight and started pumping before Moonlight’s mental image of running burst inside his mind. The faster animals pulled alongside and passed them by. Moonlight stubbornly stayed by his side even after several attempts to send her a command to run ahead and save herself. Not used to running in this kind of heat, Navon could already feel himself slowing down.
His lungs struggled to keep up and his legs felt like burning stumps. Mixed in with the sound of the fire were the screams of the animals not fast enough to outrun the flames. The temptation to look behind was not enough to overcome the fear of what he might see, until Moonlight sent him a mental warning.
He took a chance and craned his neck around to look. Not far behind, a beast, larger than any bull back at the keep, bore down on Navon. He also saw that they were losing the race to the fire. The skin of the beast blistered and turned black as he watched. Somewhere he found the strength for another burst of speed or did the ground begin to slope downward? Ahead of them appeared a solid line of dense vegetation with animals bunched up against it trying to force their way through.

The sound of screaming animals as they clawed at each other and at the barrier, combined with the roar of the flames behind him, threatened to overwhelm his mind. He could not think. Was this the end? If it hadn’t been for Moonlight, Navon would have stopped and given up right there, but her constant mental encouragement kept him going. Maybe he could find a way to climb over the top without being trampled by the frantic animals trapped there. The forgotten beast behind him had a different idea. Just before they reached the hedge, the beast’s nose appeared between Navon’s legs and with a powerful thrust of his head, propelled Navon over the barrier to land in water.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Small Success

   First of all, I would like to thank everyone who shared my posts announcing the countdown deal I decided to run, and especially the folks who decided to take a chance and actually purchase my story. Not only did I sell some books at the $.99 level but also a number sold during the $1.99 price point.
   Now comes the waiting to see if my writing is good (or bad) enough to illicit any reviews or comments. I have no problem with constructive feedback, either in an e-mail or a comment on my blog, as I'm always striving to improve as a writer.
   On a different note, our in-home critique group that I talked about in previous posts, is working out great. It's refreshing to be able to spend the extra time to explain not only what bothered us about a particular section of a story, but also why. The casual atmosphere of meeting in a home and since there are just the four of us, if we get off on a tangent for awhile, that's okay. We have known each other for quite a while so it's easier to share personal feelings and jab a little fun at each other during the meeting that might not be comfortable for newer members in our larger monthly public group.
   I was unable to post a blog last week because I had to deal with closing the estate of a relative who I didn't get along with. Old emotions resurfaced that needed to be addressed. That chapter in my story is now over so I can go on with my life.
   I'm sharing another short scene from my novella this week that I hope you will enjoy.
   Thanks for reading!

                        Chapter Ten ~When Darkness Falls
The sun continued on its path towards the horizon, indifferent to the plight of the companions as they hurried along the road in search of shelter for the night. The untended farmland fell behind when the road entered a sparsely wooded area unlike the dense and lush forest at the beginning of their journey.
Long skeletal fingers stretched for the sky from the tops of the stunted trees as if begging for rescue from the brackish water they were drowning in. Sickly vegetation covered their roots and spread its yellow-green leaves over the water, providing shelter for the inhabitants of the bog.
Swarms of insects formed a dark mist that flowed back and forth across the road. The companions were forced to cover their mouths and noses with cloth while attempting to swat the hordes away from their eyes. Fortunately, Aldan had recovered enough strength in his arm to hold a cloth with one hand and swat with the other.
The smell of decay and the flying denizens vanished as quickly as they had appeared as the road began a slow ascent and the land around them changed once again. Undulating hills dotted with rocks and the occasional ancient oak provided grazing for a small number of horses and cattle. A large house and barn could be seen in the distance but no trace of wood smoke rose from the chimneys.
Aldan lay in the wagon, eyes closed, tired of seeing nothing but clouds and sky. The threat of the goblins was a welcomed distraction from the other thoughts that plagued him. What must the Princess think of him now after his bonehead actions during the fight with the outlaws? How could he have been so careless? Granted, he’d never been in a fight like that before but the first thing his old master had taught him was a defensive spell to protect himself.
Attuned to the feel of power, he could sense the lingering signature of the magic used to heal him. Even now, the accelerated healing was sending short bursts of pain through his chest and then itched as the flesh mended. The feel of the magic was like nothing he had ever sensed before and that worried him. He was afraid the Princess had discovered a new source of power and would decide she no longer needed him.
Unable to lie still any longer, Aldan rolled over on his side and struggled to sit up. Odessa reached over to help him and then made room so he could lean against the sacks next to her.
“I feel like such a fool,” he muttered.
She glanced at him a moment and then continued to stare at the road behind. “What you did was foolish but you are never a fool. What really happened?”
“When I saw your life being threatened by those men, I panicked and reacted without thinking,” he confessed. “The thought of protecting myself never entered my mind.”
Regardless of what she believed, he was beginning to have serious doubts. “You and the men would probably be better off without me. You seem to be perfectly capable of taking care of yourselves.”
This time, Odessa not only turned to face him, she grabbed his head and forced him to look into her eyes. “Now you listen to me, Aldan Beaverson. We would not have made it this far without you. The only way I’ll be able to win back my kingdom is to have a mage at my side.” She paused, searching his eyes before continuing. “Don’t ever leave me. I have already lost two very special men in my life and I can’t bear the thought of losing a third.”
“Derek is coming back,” Jon called softly over his shoulder, hating the need to interrupt them. “I think he may have found something.”
Held captive by the intensity in her dark green eyes, Aldan finally tore free and moved over to lean against the side of the wagon, thinking, ‘now I feel doubly the fool’. He had spent his life in books and study, never as someone special. The idea was a little scary, but yet oddly comforting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Short but Sweet

   It's late and I'm tired from working on the car all day, so this will be short.
   Our first official in-home critique meeting went really well last night even though one of our group was sick and couldn't make it. It's wonderful how much more in-depth our critiques are when we have more time and can discuss issues that encompass more than a single scene. Plus it feels like everyone is more relaxed with this informal setting instead of our normal meeting in a public area. As with anything new, there will be a learning curve at work here but I don't think it will take long to settle in.
   In other exciting news, at least for me, I've received another wonderful 4-star review on Amazon for my book, and I've gotten e-mails from two other folks who are half way through reading and loving it. They said they would post a review also when done. Those made my day.
   Today I thought I would post the prologue to my WIP, "Eyes of the Deluti".
   Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.


                                Prologue~ End of an Age

Now was the time to finish this. Only Demitrios, the last surviving Deluti High Lord, had the power to locate and if possible, destroy the Dark Lord.  He rode at the forefront of the Army of the North, an alliance he had forged between Northern Ogre, Mountain Wolves, the light-shifters of the Elintria and Humans. That alliance proved to be the turning point in a war that had lasted for decades. The Dark Lord of the South refused to acknowledge the intelligence and fighting abilities of the non-humans. For that reason, his entire army was comprised of humans, whom he treated little better than slaves.
The Army advanced steadily across the Plain of Sarglon and approached the Stagwood Forest. Ahead of them stretched an ancient, densely packed wood where the Dark Lord had established his final defensive line to protect his fortress at Bryhom. At the High Lord’s signal, the army positioned itself for attack with archers and mages to the front, followed by ogres, wolves and human swordsmen. The horsemen were positioned as rear guard due to their disadvantage in the thick forest.
As the first volley of arrows darkened the sky and fireballs launched by the human mages sped towards the forest, lightning strikes sent by the Dark Lord’s sorcerers began falling among the archers. Holding position, the mages and archers continued to provide covering fire until the wolves, ogres and Elintria assassins reached the edge of the forest. The swordsmen then followed to sweep through the forest in the wake of the non-humans. Riding among them, Demitrios provided as much protection as he dared but every death added to the burden of sorrow weighing on his heart.
His personal shield protected him from attack but did not block out the pungent odor of ozone and the sickly sweet stench of burning flesh. They had left behind a plain littered with the bodies of human and animal, but in the forest, Demitrios knew they would have the advantage. The wolves and ogre were formidable forest predators and the Elintria would quickly eliminate anyone attempting to hide in the trees.
 A sudden immense gathering of power alerted him to the presence of his enemy and the shocked realization of the terrible mistake he had made. The forest was a trap. With the last of his energy he sent out a powerful mental command to the entire army to abandon the forest immediately.  Face buried in the mane of his horse to keep from being swept off, they careened through the forest with the roar of an inferno pursuing them. Tendrils of smoke trailed from the burnt ends of the horse’s tail as they escaped through the western edge of the forest and ascended to a rock strewn meadow. The horse, lathered and trembling, stopped a few paces away from the body of a man slumped against the side of a large boulder. Demitrios fell from his saddle and stumbled over to his brother. The face of his twin was beyond recognition.
Compassion overwhelmed all other emotions as he gazed at the burnt and blackened body before him.
“Why have you done this to us Scorpios?” he cried. “Your lust for power has destroyed the last members of our race. The Council of Five gave up their lives by forging their spirits into the five Amulets of Focus that are now scattered throughout both continents. The Deluti are no more. You have placed the future of this world in the hands of the humans.”
The body of his brother convulsed, one eye cracked open and a hiss escaped through burnt and blistered lips.
“Kill me.”
“I can not. Regardless of what you have become, you are still my brother.”
Anger invoked by the senseless destruction and death his brother was responsible for rekindled the power of a Deluti High Lord in him. He rose to his feet and stood straight and tall.
“However, since you attempted to kill us all and took in more power than your body was able to control, I sentence you to live and suffer from those injuries and the knowledge of what you have done to our people.”
Demitrios walked over to stand next to his horse and stared at the smoking ruin that had once been the Stagwood Forest. With a faraway look in his eyes, he continued.
     “Many generations from now, the blood of the Deluti will return through the line of humans even stronger than before and our time on this world will come to an end. I have foreseen it.”
Back in the saddle, he turned his horse away from the broken body on the ground and whispered, “Goodbye my brother.”  He never looked back.