Posts Tagged ‘Tale of the Drakanox’

It isn’t as nice as making a sale, but this week I actually got in on a submission window for a publication I’ve been really interested in. Here’s hoping!

Today’s character is new to the Minstrels of Skaythe series. I wasn’t expecting her, but my philosophy is to try and incorporate every idea that comes in the first draft. If it ends up not being important, then I’ll trim it later. Anyhow, I realized early in The Tale of the Drakanox that Countess Ar-Torix, from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh, wasn’t going to be traipsing around Skaythe in person. She needed a minion.

This is where Nyette comes in.

“An explanation that explains nothing,” Ar-Torix mused. “Now why would Meven feel the need to defend herself, if she has done nothing wrong? This requires further exploration.”

“Shall I send for your horse, Countess?” Hurth asked.

Pearls gleamed in the countess’ hair as she considered. “Not yet. If this is some sort of trick, I’ll not rush into it. Ar-Selviss.”

The instructor quickly stopped the match and bowed. “My lady?”

Ar-Torix went on, “I believe it was Nyette who won the bout just now. In your opinion, is she ready for a different sort of challenge?”

“An excellent suggestion, my lady.” Ar-Selviss smiled obsequiously. “The arena does not always prepare our students for conditions in the field.”

The student in question was already on her feet. She was tall, and Shonn had the impression of an athletic build beneath the stiff brown robe. Black, curly hair fell to her shoulders, where it was cut off in a straight, hard line. Two dainty hairpins, shaped as butterflies, held it away from her face.

“Command me, Countess!” she cried.

“No need to get so excited.” Ar-Torix laughed, a silvery sound that drew every man’s eye to her. “I merely need you to venture into Fang Marsh along with my friend from the water-folk. Examine the ice wall with a mage’s eye, and report back to me. Simplicity.”

“I will make it so.” Nyette’s gaze was intense, in contrast to the childish note of the butterfly pins.

“Yes, yes.” Ar-Torix looked past her and signaled Ar-Selviss to begin the next match. It may have been Shonn’s imagination, but he thought the countess didn’t want too much attention on a younger woman. Not that she needed to worry, as alluring as she was.

Hurth tapped Shonn’s shoulder, breaking Ar-Torix’s spell. “Come on.”

Reluctantly, he tore his eyes away from the temptation of the countess and followed Hurth back into the stuffy building. Nyette stopped in the reception area, where a narrow staircase led upward.

“I’m going to pack a few things,” she announced in a brittle imitation of Ar-Torix’s confident tone. Hunter-guards at the counter looked around at those words. To Shonn, she said, “I assume you don’t want a troop of them escorting me.”

“No,” he immediately agreed. One passenger might fit on his raft, but not a bunch of them. “We’ll want to move quietly through the swamp.”

Wryly, Hurth asked, “Shall I explain that to them?”

“I’d appreciate it.” Nyette hurried up the steps.

“This is more than I had planned on,” Shonn complained, but Hurth was already walking away.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

I got a bit of good news earlier this week. My short story, “There Gold Grows on Trees,” has been accepted for the October issue of Lorelei Signal. Woot!

Now to a teaser on one of the “stealth characters” who popped up in Tale of the Drakanox. Elldri was a minor actor in Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, but with this novel her destiny comes to the fore.

“Meditation again?” Duessa raised a sarcastic brow.

“You remember that we were trying to communicate through the tower, right?” Alemin said. “If we get to know each other well, we can hear each other over longer distances.”
Lorrah nodded. “That’s how I knew where Alemin was, and it’s how we’re trying to find Tisha.” When they all didn’t jump at the chance to meditate, she got irritated. “Well, if they don’t want to,” she complained to Alemin. He laid a calming hand on her shoulder and looked to Duessa with compassion.
“It’s all right if you need more time. We have to start building trust somehow. What if you just watch, for now?”
“That sounds pointless,” Bettain said.
“Maybe I’d try it,” Duessa said after a moment. Bettain groaned again, but Elldri was scooting a bit away on the bench. When she saw Duessa looking at her, she shook her head vigorously.
Bettain was immediately concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“No, I can’t,” Elldri whispered between the fingers that covered her mouth.
“Casting? Sure you can,” Bettain scolded fondly. “I know we weren’t supposed to, back in the Larder, but everybody did. Sneaking it in was part of the fun.”
Elldri shook her head again, her gaze focused inward. What she saw there must have been terrifying.
“I never saw her work a spell,” Alemin said.
“Just go slowly and build your strength,” Bettain advised.
“Sure.” Lorrah jerked a thumb over at the guardswomen. “They’ll tell you how many times I tried to summon fire and only made this vile fume appear.”
At the stove, Razeet laughed. “It was pretty bad.”
Zathi called sternly, “I don’t want her casting wild spells around here, if she’s out of practice.”
“We’ll only be meditating,” Lorrah called back.
Elldri’s arms were trembling. “I don’t want to.”
“Well, then how do you plan to defend yourself?” Bettain’s worry made her voice harsher even than usual.
Duessa watched them for a moment. Except for that worst day in the Larder, when the former warden tried to slaughter them all, Elldri had never been this closed in. Duessa didn’t understand it, but she wouldn’t let her friend be bullied.
“She said no, Bettain,” Duessa spoke firmly. “That’s that.”

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Every writer has had this happen. You’re going along with your characters and plot, developing everything, and suddenly a new character emerges. It isn’t that they’re demanding to be a POV. You just know that they have an arc and will be important to the over all story.

So far, I’ve had two of these stealth characters show up in The Tale of the Drakanox. There’s always a temptation to push them aside. They aren’t part of the plan, and I already have four POVs as it is. However, I always try to listen to my muse . The story is always richer and more complex when I work new ideas in. So don’t take this as a complaint!

What I’m finding useful is that both these characters are not having a POV. Thus they will remain inscrutable for a lot of the story. Even though we writers go to great lengths to create engaging main characters and make sure the plot events are clear to the reader, sometimes it’s good to keep things mysterious.

We hope readers will be engaged with characters when they can “see” their needs and goals, but it can be equally intriguing when they don’t know what’s going on with a character. This brings an element of unpredictability to the tale. In both cases, the stealth characters seem to be allies, but because they aren’t POV characters, we don’t know for sure.

So who are these stealth characters? Check back on Wednesday and I’ll introduce them!

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

The big excitement for me today is that we’re having air conditioning put in. The spring was relatively cool and mild, but our typical summers have us over 100 degrees by now. (And I know for many of you it’s been well over 100 for some weeks already. My sympathies.)

Anyway, we’ve been getting by with window box air conditioners, but it was evident we needed another. We already have three and it seemed silly to have four of them. In the interest of energy efficiency and probably lowering our electric bill, we decided to not be ridiculous and just get the main one put in.

This isn’t as much of a stretch as it sounds like, financially. We saved up $20,000 for roof work last summer and didn’t use it all, so this is a way of continuing to upgrade our home. I’ve retreated to the upstairs so I won’t be in the workmen’s way, and by lunch time they hope to be done.

That means I’ll be able to work on The Tale of the Drakanox at the time I usually do. I finished the big set piece with Ar-Lizelle’s and Duessa’s groups clashing. Now I’m over to Shonn and Piyaro finally connecting with Meven, Berisan and Yamaya in Opshar. Time to find out how their uprising is going. Will Piyaro end up as their enemy or ally, and will Shonn be able to make amends with Meven? Also, what are those bandits up to in the mountains?

Should be a fun bit to work through.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

This week I’ve been going on with The Tale of the Drakanox. Duessa’s POV sections and Ar-Lizelle’s POV sections are racing toward a collision. This is one of the things I like best about having more than one POV, and having those characters be on opposite sides. Both characters know trouble is coming, but as a reader, you can really see them going opposite directions in the same lane of traffic.

Ar-Lizelle is pretty intent on recapturing Duessa’s team. Duessa’s team is practicing new strategies as they prepare for trouble. Potentially a lot of characters are involved here. I need to choose who gets featured. I also need to choose whether everyone will make it out of the confrontation. I’m still getting my head around all that.

This is nothing new to me. I always dither a bit at this point in a story. I know I’ll find my way through it. Onward!

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Yep, I’m still pushing along with The Tale of the Drakanox. I sort of reached the point where my thoughts had focused, and now I’m trying to re-focus toward the ending. Part of this is coming up with new obstacles to prevent everyone from cruising along too easily. I’m consolidating a bit, too.

Shonn and Piyaro had started out each with a separate plot thread, but now they’ve joined forces. They were heading to… somewhere… and they were going to get there too fast, so I had them sight some mysterious ships and have to deal with that.

Duessa has been the POV with the group of fugitives, while Ar-Lizelle has been chasing them. They might have gotten away from her, so I’m bringing in some allies for Ar-Lizelle. This new group is more her rivals than her friends, though. That will lead to some excitement. It should be fun to write.

The evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, is starting to take a personal hand in things as well. I need to make him as sinister and deadly as his reputation, which should be fun in a different way.

That’s the point of all this writing, though. Fun, right?

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

I’m still on vacation, but I’ve scheduled another teaser for you. This character is from Prisoners of the Wailing Tower.

Flames roared and leaped, as if they would join with the lowering sun. It was a farmer’s hut that burned, the thatched roofing a ready food for the blaze. Just short of the flames’ reach, Ar-Lizelle glared down at the body that lay at her feet. Her former prisoner was still shaved bald, scorch marks crossing the clothing he’d stolen to hide himself among the population. A perpetual grin of madness split the stubbled face.

It hadn’t been an easy fight. The fugitive’s madness gave him wild power. However, Ar-Lizelle had been warden of the Larder, Dar-Gothull’s prison for insane mages. She knew how to deal with the likes of him. Haafeth had died choking, her fire whip snaked about this throat. Not once did he stop laughing.

That was no surprise. Haafeth had been closer to madness as any of the escaped prisoners. Ar-Lizelle had no remorse for his death. The list of his crimes was long even before the peasant farmer he murdered, and the widow he had been terrorizing when Ar-Lizelle caught up with him. It was Haafeth who set their roof on fire, a futile attempt at distraction.

No, her only regret was that she had learned nothing about the whereabouts of the other prisoners who escaped on that horrible day.

Ar-Lizelle clenched her fists, controlling her fury. After years of patient work, monitoring reports and questioning new prisoners, she’d finally had the chance to capture her disloyal younger sister. Lorrah had left their father to die. Worse, she had become a renegade, working against the mages who rightfully ruled over Skaythe. But the hunt’s promised ending was merely a ruse. Lorrah had lured Ar-Lizelle out of the Larder, and while she was gone, a bunch of fake hunter-guards had broken all the prisoners out.

Disgraced by the failure of her security, Ar-Lizelle now lived on borrowed time. Countess Ar-Khoreen of Yergha, where the Larder was located, had made it clear that she must bring those fugitives back, or otherwise deal with them. If she failed, she would be cast into the Larder herself, as a prisoner.

Ar-Lizelle stood rigid, gazing at the flames without seeing them. A ghastly creature haunted the Larder, a revenant with slashing octopus arms paired to a human face. That creature called itself a Devourer. And what did it devour? Mages.

No. No, that fate must not be hers.

“Well, that’s one down,” a man joked behind her.

“Only nine to go,” his fellow agreed.

“Are you keeping score?” She whirled to glower at them, screeching in her high voice, “Do you think this is some sort of game?”

“No, Warden,” Endole hastily replied. He and Groff saluted.

By Ar-Khoreen’s order, only two of the prison guards had come with her on this hunt. The others remained with Captain Morthem, who held the Larder for her return. If she survived to return.

“Let’s go,” she snarled, and turned away.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

I’m on vacation, but here’s another teaser for you. This character is one you might recognize from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. Enjoy!

The mage’s tower was deceptively quiet, showing no lights. You could think no one was there. That was the way they wanted it. He shrugged a little, irritated, and jerked around to watch the sun’s last rays creep up the brown rocks that crowned the hills beyond the Fang Marsh.

That tower had been empty for a long time, but it was Addith’s domain now. Shonn remembered how he had worked to help her settle in. Her and the boy she’d said was a foundling. The surly brat never had taken to Shonn. Despite the kid’s interference, he’d almost gotten to her. Shonn grinned a little, remembering the hunger of her kiss. It wouldn’t have been much longer before he laid her down in the sand…

Unfortunately, Addith was never who she said she was. The water clan she claimed probably didn’t even exist. Her real name was Meven, and she was a runaway mage. He’d seen her throwing ice chunks around, when that mudmaw took a strike at the boy. Then the kid lit himself on fire, too. He was a mageling that she tried to train, while they both hid from the regime in the depths of the marsh.

Mages were dangerous, crazy, never to be trusted. Shonn had tried to hide his reaction, but Meven had turned cold and he’d known it was over between them. There was never really a choice, anyway. He’d had to report to the countess’s guards. If Countess Ar-Torix thought the water folk were in league with a rogue mage, she might destroy Otter and everyone aboard her.

That’s what Shonn had told his parents, and the others who protested that he’d turned against one of the water folk. To himself, he could admit the truth. He’d suspected about Meven, and he’d been toying with her, part of the same boredom that still scratched between his shoulder blades. If he won her trust, he could gather more information, something to trade with the city guards. He could even have blackmailed her, forced her to lie with him, or made use of her in some other way. To what purpose, he still wasn’t certain. It had only seemed like a good thing to have a mage at his command.

He could have done it, if not for that brat of hers wandering carelessly on the bank. But the mudmaw’s attack had made it clear the boy would always come first. It grated on his ego to be second best.

Meven’s parting words were clear: “I don’t want to see you again.” Unfortunately for Meven, hers was not the final word. Countess Ar-Torix had made it clear that she still wanted Shonn to be an informant. He had to be sneaky, given his parents’ disapproval, but maybe he’d have another chance at the ice witch after all.

With a final scowl, Shonn turned away from his thwarted vision. The setting sun cast muted pink and gold rays to reflect from the placid waters around the landing. Fish jumped, raising rings of brighter water. As the water became warmer than the air, mists began to creep over the lotus pools and among the dark mangroves. Frogs and crickets and other night creatures raised their shimmering chorus.

A flickering light caught his eye. Shonn glanced over, expecting to see fireflies or a last ray of sunlight on the far hilltops. Instead, a glow appeared brighter among the rocks. It swelled brighter, and then a brief flash. Yellow light streaked down the slope, with sparks trailed behind it, like coals falling from a fire. Shonn blinked. It moved so fast! Was it coming closer?

He heard no sound of hooves or wheels. No flames rose from that spot. The golden streak, soft and vaguely shaped, curved to follow a pale ribbon across the land. Whatever it was, it followed the old silvery scar that crossed the plain beyond the marsh.

The silence was eerie. There should have been a whistling of wind, or some other noise. Shonn heard nothing. After a moment’s staring, he stamped his sandaled foot vigorously on the roof where he stood.

“Oberim, Kannat!” he called to his father and uncle.

Muffled steps came from below, and the houseboat shifted slightly as the two men emerged from the main cabin. Shonn pointed at the mysterious object gliding ever closer.

“Do you see it?”

“Huh,” answered Oberim.

The three men watched in silence. Whatever it was moved swiftly and steadily, stretched out to twice the length of Otter. In a way, it resembled a cloud of mist lit golden by morning sun. There was no sun to light it, and yet it still glowed.

Uncle Kannat murmured, “What moves it? There is no wind.”

“What moves it,” Shonn retorted. “What is it?”

The angle changed as the creature got closer. There were hints of solid form within the mass. Two branching antlers, a wolf’s head with tousled mane, followed by a long body like an eel’s. Yet any shape dissolved almost before he could identify it.

Then it was past, following the curve of the ancient track that went straight across the marsh. By now, other family streaming out of the cabin, crowding to the rail. Soft murmurs of confusion and dismay came up to the cabin roof, where Shonn stood.

“Have you ever seen something like that?” Oberim asked his brother.

“No, but we know where it’s going,” Shonn replied, hiding his glee with grim certainty. “That path leads to the mage tower.”

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

I’ve mentioned working through a long conversation with a big group of people in The Tale of the Drakanox. So here’s a step-by-step of how I write these long scenes.

First, I write it in a very skeletal draft. The “bones” of the scene, if you will. In this scene there are potentially 15 characters in the conversation, so I cut it down to two representatives from four groups, or eight characters in all. I decide things about the setting, like where they are sitting and standing, and what furniture is there. Then I sketch out the dialogue to a tentative conclusion. It will be messy, with broken sentences like, “‘Head to hornwood be halfway there’ Bettain.” I try also to make sure every character has a chance to say something, even if they aren’t leading the discussion.

Once I have the flow of the dialogue, I go back and start putting on the muscles, so to speak. I complete those sentences and add in reactions from characters that haven’t said much. Everything and everyone gets described more fully. I fill in new ideas that have popped up, and make sure that I’m not forgetting important plot threads.

The last pass brings it all into focus and puts on the “face.” I make sure I’m not forgetting any plot threads. If it seems like the dialog is too much “Zathi talks, then Duessa talks,” I’ll switch who is speaking a few minor lines. I’ll also make sure there’s good energy in the scene and have more emotional language if necessary.

After all that, the scene will be finished enough to press on with the plot.

Now I’m curious how others approach this kind of writing challenge. Let me know in the comments!

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Yes, here’s another taste of my work in progress, The Tale of the Drakanox. Duessa and her friends, who were broken out of the Larder in Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, are finding out exactly why they were rescued.

     “Oh, I think we know the price,” Duessa predicted with grim certainty.
     “Do tell,” came a cool voice from just beside the wagon. Sergeant Zathi, who commanded Badger Squad, reined her sorrel in beside Lorrah’s chestnut. Duessa’s throat tightened with nerves, this was no time to back down.
     “You’re hunter-guards, but you’ve left your post,” she started.
     Zathi parried the accusation. “Hunter-guards don’t have permanent posts. That’s come in handy recently.”
     Her calm was discomfiting. Duessa kept on, “You’re still warriors who serve Dar-Gothull. You must have something planned. It’s a trap, or…” Zathi’s expression said that was wrong. She pushed on. “Then we’re all headed to meet up with your army. You brought us along to fight on your side.”
     “Because we’d be grateful, or something,” Bettain added bitterly.
     Duessa felt as irritated as Bettain when they all sort of chuckled. “I wish we had an army,” said one of the women. It might be Keerin.
     Another one smiled. “If only.” Was her name Giniver?
     Zathi hesitated, when admitted, “Alemin is correct. We’re not as organized as it may appear.”
     The three former prisoners exchanged glances of anger and dismay. “You broke us out, but you don’t have a plan?” Duessa accused.
     “We needed to get Alemin out. We couldn’t leave him there,” Lorrah hastily explained. “But then —”
     “I learned that Dar-Gothull uses the Larder to feed off the mages inside,” Alemin carried on. “So if he’s ever going to be overthrown, we had to take his food away.”
     “To weaken him, we had to let all of you out,” Zathi affirmed.
     “Wait.” Duessa pressed her hands to her temples, shocked by the words. “Weaken him?” Her dark eyes darted, from brown face to brown face, and rested on Alemin’s mild gaze. “This is one of your jokes.”
     “No,” he answered. “I know it’s a lot…”
     “You want to overthrow Dar-Gothull?” Bettain was aghast, yet impressed. Elldri listened, round-eyed. “What, with the six of you?”
     “Seven,” Lorrah corrected.
     “Eight,” Alemin said.
     “That’s … not better,” Duessa choked. However, strange she had ever thought Alemin was, this was far beyond it. “You’re insane! He’s Dar-Gothull. He has the whole regime and all the counts, the temple priests, the hunter-guards, the…” She trailed off, finding herself momentarily unable to breathe.
     “There are more of us,” Alemin went on, soothingly. “We had to split up when one of our friends got a prophecy that he would be captured…”
     “A prophecy?” Duessa shrieked. That was worse than nothing!
     “We were supposed to meet up again after six months,” Alemin continued. “Right now, that’s what we’re doing. I have a sense of another one of our friends. We’re trying to find her.”
     “While avoiding my sister,” Lorrah added grimly.
     “And we’re getting the hell away from the Larder,” one of the others added, cheeky.
     “No. No,” Duessa insisted. “You just want us for canon fodder.”
     “We need allies,” Zathi corrected, irritably.
     “Yeah, no kidding,” Bettain laughed rudely.
     “We don’t have a plan because it’s impossible to make a plan before we know who supports us,” Giniver added from the other side of the wagon.
     “Really, you’re going to try this?” Duessa’s eyes pleaded with Alemin to say no, it was all just tavern talk. The guardswomen were silent for a moment, and then every one of them nodded. “Yes.” “Yeah, sure.” “What, you want to live like this forever?”
     “It’s time,” Zathi said firmly. “Dar-Gothull’s reign has distorted everything. It has to end.”

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »