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Free on Amazon

February 6, 2016

As a thanks to my friends who have been reading my books, I have two of my shorter works for free on Amazon today and tomorrow.

Land of Gehenna cover“Land of Gehenna” is about a colony doing their best to adapt to a very dangerous desert world. A young man, who is the last descendant of the colony ship, is selected to appease the spirits.

There is also a bonus story called “The White Snows of Russia.” The basis of this story is a old man I met while in Germany. He had been one of the soldiers who had been in Russia during the Nazi Germany’s Eastern Front. The damage he suffered was not only physical, but mental. He still didn’t remember his family or his name. Hidden in the Sierras cover

The second story free today is “Hidden in the Sierras,” which is technically a YA fantasy, coming-of-age. This was my first story about were-bears in the Sierras. A young girl finds her place in her tribe.

So these are the two that are free today. I hope you enjoy them.

Unexpected Surprises

January 30, 2016
Joshua Tree, Boulder City, NV 1/29/2016

Joshua Tree, Boulder City, NV 1/29/2016

There is a small park just behind the post office in Boulder City, NV that is on the side of the hill. Since I was feeling a little restless, I put Foxy in her seat belt harness so that we could drive there.

In my twenties I would have walked to that park. It is a slice of green in an otherwise desert world.

So much to my surprise, I found an old Joshua tree in a small strip of land across from the park. It is bordered by three streets and houses. What makes this such a surprise is that it had to have been there for a very long time. In Nevada a resident is not allowed to move or transplant these trees.

The last time I saw a Joshua tree growing in a residential area was the small town of Goldfield, NV. The tree was right next to an old shanty. It was in much better shape than this tree.

I felt a kinship with this tree. I was also living in a small city and feeling the need to go somewhere else that wasn’t all houses. Boulder City is not necessarily a huge community, but it is outside of Las Vegas.

Since this tree can lay down roots and survive since 1931, maybe I can survive here, too.

 

 

Steady as She Goes

January 27, 2016

If you have been watching my word meter, I am now about 84 percent through 50,000 words on my current WIP, Dragon Boy. As I was writing yesterday, I realized that I am in the discovery phase of the writing. Once I have finished the first draft, then I will check to make sure that the names are right (I changed Elita to Evita plus I gave the healer and the dragon the same name– one of the dangers of being a panster).

The second draft is basically is a revision (not a rewrite or edit). The first draft I wrote the structure of the story. In the second draft I work with the characters, put in the five senses, check my descriptions, and plug holes.  It’s where the story comes alive.

When I first started writing, I had this weird idea that I could stop at the first draft. Even when I write short stories, (Yes, I have written quite a few), I look them over a couple of times before publishing. So that I had the idea that a novel could be put out with only a cursory edit after the first draft– shows my naivete.

I can laugh at myself. What helped me to see things slightly differently was when I did some writing classes with Dean W. Smith. You can find him online. He has written several of the Star Wars franchise books and a lot of other sci-fi and fantasy. He and his wife Kristine Katherine Rusch are premier writers.

I learned some basic things from him that have made my writings more interesting.

  • Write in scenes– One of my problems was I was trying to remember the entire novel in my head as I wrote. You can’t do it. The brain can’t contain it all. I have a great memory even after being on low dosages of chemo since 2003. So break up the story in scenes.
  • Use five senses– It is when we ground the reader into the world that they become engrossed in our characters.
  • Everything is seen through the eyes of the character– once again when you describe a town, street, home or room you are seeing it through the eyes of one person. He will see different aspects of the room than say,– his friend.
  • Don’t be ambiguous– I really like to use pronouns… but sometimes a reader can get lost in the hes and shes. Sometimes it is better to say the character’s name than to use a pronoun.
  • Put in Twists– It is the downs as well as the ups that makes a story interesting. 3-5 twists per short story and for novels, when your character is standing around and saying “so what do we do next?” then you are long overdue for a twist.

So editing is for finding these problems and solving them before a reader reads. There is a lot to writing that if I had a clue, I might have found another avocation. However, I am now caught in its web. Plus I am as curious as the next reader about what happens to Hilda, Davi, and Michael.

I’ve been writing, and thinking, and writing

January 20, 2016

and thinking–

It seems that when I am in the middle of a story, I forget to blog. Lately I have been reading a lot of Norse mythology and even reading books on shamanism, magic, and religion. Yesterday I was going to write a little bit on what I was doing with Dragon Boy, the “work in progress” right now. Then I got caught in the difference between ritual magic, using formulas and motions, and informal magic–magic of the will.

It seems that the more magic is infused in being such as a dragon, the less formal magic is needed to affect a desired result. Yes, the title of my story is not false advertising.

So I have human mages who have elemental companions, but who need ritual magic to close portals (in Hilda’s Inn), which means they don’t do magic on the fly. They need amulets and formulas– and some training.

I have elementals and dragons, beings infused with magic. They see the human magic as clumsy in ineffective most of the time. I suspect that the elementals like humans because when the formal and informal is merged, there may be a greater magic involved. Primal even. Except the mage must have potential, studious nature, and sane.

I suspect that it is insanity that makes a mage go down a darker path– the difference between using dark and light magic is none– it is how it is used and what intention. Intentions in my stories are key to the character and also to the magic.

So I have had a lot to consider. I haven’t forgotten the readers– at least not intentionally. I am trying to make this story as good as I can in this point in my life.

The WIP is well on its way to the completion of the first draft. Then I will need to look the story over and make sure that it doesn’t have any holes and lost threads. At the same time, I need to make sure that I see the world in the eyes of the character.

I know it sounds insane. I find that when I follow the character instead of forcing the character into a role, that I am surprised and pleased at the result. It works for me. I know that it doesn’t work for all writers.

I am writing, and thinking, and writing, and thinking–

Feeding the Well of Dreams

January 9, 2016

Every writer has a favorite writing time. I found that my best time to write is just after the coffee is brewed, dog fed, and just before I fully wake up. I have written in the afternoon and even the early evening. To write at those times I have to do a number of rituals– turn on the music, light a candle, stare into space, tap my heels– before I can write.

When I write half-asleep, I can feel the story well instead of trickle. I type fast and I don’t second guess myself. Writing that early must turn off my critic that wants perfection.

But I can dry up. I have written without feeding the creative well. During those times I have pushed to get a novel finished. When I published it on Amazon, I felt that rush of relief. Then there is nothing. No, little bits of scenes to tantalize my imagination. No, little bits of dialog to stun me.

It’s disconcerting to lose that ability to write the next words. To type nonononononononononono and nothing else comes out of my fingers.

So I found a solution. I don’t write all day long. I don’t consider it a job that must be done eight hours a day. For some reason when I do that I lose. I discover why other writers swear at writer’s block.

My solution is I need to feed the well of dreams. In the good old days before my illness, I worked in electronics and I met people through my work. I could watch, observe, and comment on people’s idiosyncrasies.

Things have changed drastically. If I am around people for extended periods of time, I can get every virus, cold, and infectious disease. I must get my feeding other ways.

I need to do something that could fix my attention in much the same way that writing does.  I can read tons of fiction and enjoy it. I can study the structure of fiction and tear apart a story. But, I need non-fiction to feed the well.

When the critic, the logical side, is engaged in an academic treatise on mythology, it is so engrossed that it doesn’t bother me when it comes time to write. In the same way that I need to walk every day with the dog, I also need time to study new subjects. I have studied quantum mechanics, biology, and even some psychology. Any soft or hard science is fair game.

Everything I read and study is grist for the mill. Everything goes into the well.

Many years ago when I lived in a drama-filled house, I learned that to be happy, I needed “balance in all things.” So it’s the same with my life. I am not just a writer of fiction. I am also a reader of science, an observer of nature, and a seeker.

Dragon Boy excerpt

January 7, 2016

I had an epiphany yesterday. I am happiest after I have been writing. While I am writing, I try to get in the “zone” another word for the ecstatic trance, I suspect, or the runner’s high. Afterwards, I am tired like I have expended an enormous amount of energy. So to prove I have been writing on the sequel to Hilda’s Inn, I have a treat– an excerpt of Dragon Boy. 

I apologize in advance for a first rough draft. Here is the scene I wrote today:

 

Dragon Boy

The White Road
Davi Dracson

It was full day. Once again Davi noticed that there were no sounds around the road, no mice and rabbits stirred in the grass, and no bugs scurried away from their feet as they tramped towards the road, breaking a path through the grass.

When Varia stood before the road, he noticed that the light and swirling had diminished. The road was shrinking away from the she-dragon. It sent feelings of I’m just a road, just a road. Nothing to see here.

To his normal sight, the cobblestone road was ordinary, except it was in the middle of nowhere. That in itself was a curious thing.
Varia bent over to touch the road, Davi’s thoughts wandered towards how graceful she looked, how regal, and he wanted to touch her.

“Dragonling, control your thoughts,” he heard in his head. He blushed a little, and concentrated on the road.

When he looked with his inner sight, centered in his forehead, he saw that the wraiths were hiding and clinging in the center of the stones. He saw her touch one stone and the occupant was flung into the air. A white light opened and the wraith raced towards the white tunnel as if its life depended on it.

At that moment a black net snared the wraith as it almost reached its escape.

Hilda threw a fireball at the net. The net turned crimson for a moment and then turned to ash. Like feathers the ash fell to the earth. The wraith sped away. For a moment Davi thought he felt gratitude coming from the wraith.

“That was exhausting,” Varia said to the both of them. “And it was only one wraith.” She sighed. Hilda looked tired from just the one fireball. She had already been caught on the road once.

“We need to find the source of the spell.” Davi looked at the two women. “This can’t go on… It can’t.” For a moment, Davi felt pity for the wraiths.

“You saw how much energy we expended for one wraith,” said Hilda. She looked at the road. It went on and on into the far horizon.

“The three of us do not have the energy to free every wraith here. Not in our lifetime.”

Hilda frowned, then said. “How has this magic been overlooked?”
There were no wards around the road. It was as if it wanted to be noticed. Still it had to have been here a long time to have eaten all the souls in the area. It must have run out of souls before it could come to a city. Davi shuddered at the thought of all the damage it could do in the kingdom. Nothing left except this road. It would feed until it filled the entire world.

Foxy is hungry and complaining

January 2, 2016

IMG_0055Living with a chihuahua is a lesson in schedules:

  • At 7 a.m. she insists she is hungry for breakfast.
  • At 10 a.m. she is sure that I need a walk.
  • At 12 noon she wants a treat
  • At 3 p.m. its time to walk the dog
  • At 4:30 p.m. don’t you think it is time to feed the dog again?

So last night I sat down and wrote a schedule for the dog, then I put in my writing time, and my nap time, pill time, and other things that are important in my life and health.

Who could say no to that face?

So right now I am doing a quick, quick post and then lunch. At the same time the dog is getting a treat.

As for the writing: I am back to Dragon Boy. I am holding onto Dark Moon Rising for another month and then I will finish it.

In the meantime, here is Hilda’s Inn for Retired Heroes. It is Sword & Sorcery.

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