Ink Slingers Guild

Announcement: Ink Slingers Guild At Tampa Bay Megacon

Hello all!

 

If you’re not already familiar with the Ink Slingers Guild, we’re a writers’ group that has been together for over 6 years now. In our own words:  “The Ink Slingers Guild is a group of writers who came together (by referral only) for support and encouragement. We give each other inspiration and the occasional kick in the arse. So far, together we have created eight collections of short stories, four of our members have published their first novels and one member just released her fourth novel.”

We write everything from epic fantasy and science fiction, to paranormal romance, erotica, Regency era Jane Austen romance, ghost stories, and cheesy vampire romance:

                      

I am very excited to announce that the Ink Slingers Guild have a table in Artists’ Alley at the Tampa Bay Megacon Friday 29th September through Sunday 1st October, and we’d love to see you there!

Held at:

TAMPA CONVENTION CENTER
333 S. Franklin Street
Tampa, FL 33602

Ticket information can be found here.

Visit megacontampabay.com for more information.

Nerd on!

❤ DragonBeck

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The Wizard’s Library

Fair warning: these next few blogs are going to be short and sweet, with just a fun little story for your reading pleasure and not much else. I’m sorry I don’t have much time to entertain you, or enlighten you with my writerly thoughts on writing otherwise known as #writetips – I’m pretty swamped with all things writing and life.  Still doing the last little bits of clean up and catch up from the disruption that was Hurricane Irma, and it’s getting to be that time of the year – holidays!!!! – and I have to get my act together for that. So, without further ado, here it is – my writing exercise from last meeting. The words were a little angsty and emo, but it was fun. Enjoy! 🙂

hate, dissension (my word), leather,

“And what’s this?” Heather asked, pulling a bottle filled with black mist from
the shelf. A red cork stopper kept the mist from escaping, but it still looked
like it was pushing and fighting to get out.
“Hate,” the wizard said, and snatched the bottle from her. “Don’t touch
anything.”
Heather crossed her arms, head turning right and left as she followed the
irritable man through his lair. So many interesting things sat on the shelves,
bones, and feathers, golden orbs, and fanged creatures floating in green liquid.
“Right,” the wizards snapped, and Heather looked forward.
They stood in front of a huge bookshelf. It towered over their heads, and
disappeared in the dark gloom above them. Heather didn’t think she could read
all the books on the shelves if she had three lifetimes. The books were all
shapes and sizes, and piled haphazardly, like soldiers in the throes of
dissension, no rhyme or reason to their placement, at least that Heather could
see. Her hand reached out, fingers bushing the soft leather, but the wizard
knocked her arm down.
“Didn’t I tell you not to touch anything?” he grumbled, then waved his hand and
summoned a ladder which flew to him. “Wait here. I shan’t be gone long.”
He rapidly ascended the rungs, and was soon lost from sight far above her, and
Heather was left alone with the books.
________________________________________________________

Let me know what you think! What are your favorite writing tips?

❤ DragonBeck

So Much News…

Having gone radio dark for a month (all in the name of science), here are the updates I promised regarding the world of the Guardians of the Path and other fantastic realms:

I spent a couple weeks going over Book 1, First Magyc, and I am happy to announce that the second edition is now available on Amazon. I cleaned it up a bit, tightened things here and there, and stretched them out in other places. I added a bit to the epilogue, which I enjoyed and I hope you do to. I recently read The Last Gunslinger (Dark Tower, book I) and if Steven King can do a second edition of book one (right around the time the fourth book of that series was being released, if memory serves), I feel that gives me licence to do the same.

Book 4, The Other World, is up for presale (that announcement has been burning a hole in my pocket, but in the name of science, I couldn’t break my month-long abstinence).

I drew yet another map. It is a marvelous map that shows the rest of the Guardians of the Path series on one (rather large) sheet of paper. I did it in pretty colors, and right now it exists in three places: on my computer, on my wall, and on the phone of the person who was kind enough to help me transport the map into the digital realm (Though I’ve thought about asking them to delete it, I have no hope of getting them to do so – I have a sneaking suspicion they would just give me a look and whisper “it’s in the cloud”). I am not sure if I will release this map, or put it in a book. Perhaps in the tenth book. In any event, I am very proud of it, and it helped me get my thoughts in order for the next six books, and I hope, make the writing smooth and steady.

On that note, book 5 Wasteland, is coming along. The first draft is well begun (which, contrary to Aristotle, is not quite the same as half done, at least when talking about a novel). The tale becomes somewhat more complex during book 4, so I am hoping that book 5 will be released mid next year.

I have also been reading the Pendragon series (also ten books). It is an amazing story, and I am about halfway through – I’ve procured the last five books from the library, and trying not to devour them in place of sleep.

The Ink Slingers Guild has been busy as usual – we have three anthologies coming out between now and sometime in the near future – Super Useless, wherein superpowers that aren’t exactly super are discussed in chunks of 2,500 words or less, and The Purge of Jimmy, which is the sequel to The Death of Jimmy (available on Amazon Kindle for just 99¢), wherein more Jimmys (or is that Jimmies?) die and at least one loose end is tied up, and finally (the big one): the annual ISG anthology, my contribution to which is called “The Writer’s Trial” – a fun little piece about writers, devils, and talking cats that I wrote several years ago, and by several years, I mean over a decade. It shall see the light of day towards the end of the year.

Several other members of ISG are getting ready to publish novels, most imminently Alanna J. Rubin with Second Chances (a fun sci-fi, Jane Austen romance adventure mash-up), J. M. Paquette with her second novel Solyn’s Body (sequel to Klauden’s Ring)and Lisa Barry, with her second novel in the Gargoyles Den series, titled Rogue.

Our fantastic writing group will be making an appearance at MegaCon in Tampa Bay at the end of this month. Come find us in Artists’ Alley – we’re very friendly and entertaining, and more than happy to sign books, answer all manner of questions, and pose for pictures. I will be there on Sunday the 1st of October, most likely wearing a dragon shirt, or a Supernatural shirt.

Whew! That is a lot of activity. I’ll need another break after all that. Just kidding, a writer never gets a break. No rest for the wicked!

❤ ❤ ❤ DragonBeck

Half-Truth

Here’s the next writing exercise (product thereof) for you – enjoy!

Blue, arrow, pot

She hovered over the smoking pot, wringing her hands, frowning, and generally
looking worried.
“Is it supposed to be that color?” she asked, her eyes trailing
up the thick swirls of blue.
“No, we’re looking for more of a purple hue,”
William told her in his best wise voice, and hid a smile when she started pacing
twice as fast.
Her face was pale, and sweat beaded on her forehead, and then he noticed the
unusual glow in her eye.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
She turned to him, and shook her head. He leaned forward and looking more
closely, he saw the signs that he should never have missed. The arrow was nocked
before she could blink, and she gazed at the weapon with something between
terror and rage.
“Who are you?” he demanded, he hand unwavering. Though he knew the face, he was
no longer certain what lay behind it. “What have you come here for?”
“What I told you,” she said, a plaintive ring to her voice. “I have to undo what
they did.”
“You told me they cast a curse on your village, and that you had to
go back and save everyone,” he reminded her, in case she had forgotten her own
sorry story. “You said everyone in the village was under this horrible spell.”
“That’s true,” she nodded, and she swallowed before she continued in a soft
voice. “I did not mention that I was the only one in the village. Everyone else
was dead.”

_________________________________________________________

So, Erika thought he should die, Jen and Alanna thought there may be a happy ending lingering just out of sight. Lisa thought there was probably a dragon involved.

What do you think?

❤ DragonBeck

His Name Is Jester

These are very late – the next ISG meeting is only a few days away! I was out of power and internet thanks to Hurricane Irma, so I’m just getting to this now. I went a little darker and creepy with the exercises from the last meeting (as Erika knows I am wont to do at times), but I hope you enjoy these anyway!

cookie, popcorn, joker,

The card sat on the table, grinning its evil grin, as though it was proud of all
the destruction surrounding it. The plate that held the cookies was broken in
two, and half the treats were on the floor, the other half in crumbs on the
table. Popcorn littered the room like confetti, and the streamers were torn and
limp.
“What happened here?” Mila asked, reaching for the card.
Tam slapped her hand away before she could touch it. “Don’t you know what that
is?” he barked at her.
“It’s a Joker,” she said, blinking rapidly as she tried to figure out what he
was so upset about.
“Close. His name is Jester,” he nodded. “And for the moment, he’s trapped in
there. But he’s a sly one, and he’d find some way to trick you into letting him
out.”
Mila shuddered, and took several steps back. Her eyes darted about the room,
back to the card, and away again. She thought that its black gaze followed her,
but that was absurd. It was just some paper and ink, after all.
“So what are we doing here?” Mila asked, her voice filling the silence and
somehow making the room sound more dead and empty.
“We have to find out where the others were taken,” Tam said, his face set in
grim determination. “And if they’re still alive.”
_______________________________________________________

Some people find clowns funny, some find them scary, others terrifying, and others don’t care. Personally, they’re definitely not my thing. What’s your feeling on them?

❤ DragonBeck

I Remember Green

I’ve been really digging the apocalyptic stories lately, although “drought” is a rather depressing word, so it wouldn’t exactly conjure something good. Jen and Desi agreed this was an adventure they would go on. Erika was fine to pass it up.

drought (my word), slippery, bird

“The birds all disappeared with the rain,” the old man’s voice was ominous, and
sent chills sliding over Tam’s skin, like cold, slippery snakes.
He tried to edge around the dirty, hunched figure at the side of the road, but
fate had other plans for Tam, and the sound of pounding hoof beats made him
lunge for safety out of the path of the frantic rider. Coughing and choking on
the dust left behind, Tam saw the old man’s bright eyes trained on him, and gave
him a fright. He could’ve sworn the old man was blind.
“Do you remember before the drought?” the man asked.
Tam shook his head. He was only five and thirty and the rain had been gone since
his father was a little boy.
“I remember,” the man said, a wistful look in his eyes. “I remember green.”
Tam nodded, and stood up. He dug around in his pocket for a coin, figuring the
man had shared his little spot on the side of the road so Tam didn’t get
trampled, and that was worth a penny or two. He held out the money, and the man
stared at him for a long time before reaching out. Bony fingers closed over
Tam’s wrist, and the man pulled him down so they were nose to nose.
“Only the black can bring back the rain, but first he must be found,” the man
said in a fierce whisper, then pushed Tam away.
Tam stumbled back, and when he looked at the man again, he was hunched over his
begging cup, white, sightless eyes staring out at the dusty street.

__________________________________________________________

Would you go on that adventure? Why or why not?

❤ DragonBeck

Balance

What makes a story interesting to read?

Many things, but one of them is balance: balance between loss and gain, between hope of victory and threat of defeat.

In a story where there is only loss and no gain (the epitome of tragedy) or only gain with no loss (unrealistic), we find a lack of balance causes some discomfort for the reader.

Let’s take a story of a girl whose dream is to live in this old Victorian mansion at the outskirts of the town she lives in. The story starts, and we learn this girl was born holding a credit card and wearing Gucci, and she has the metabolism of a linebacker who can eat pizza and ice cream and not work out with no effect on her waistline (and without a single pimple breaking out), and she looks fabulous from the moment she wakes up until the end of time (without spending a second putting on makeup). This girl gets into the best school because she’s just who she is, she gets the most popular guy (on her first day), and their relationship is just bliss every moment with roses and chocolate and poetry. This girl is an immediate favorite with all her professors, graduates at the top of her class without pulling a single all-nighter or going to study hall, is hired as the CEO of a Fortune 5 company straight out of college, gets married to the most popular guy, goes on a fairy-tale honeymoon in the Austrian Alps, then a mysterious relation she’s never heard of dies and leaves her a ton of money and she moves into the mansion she’s always wanted, the end.

Perhaps at some point during that you started to feel like throwing up. I know I did. But why – it’s so happy and perfect, why would anyone not want to read that?  Because it’s missing something vital: balance.

If we had a story about a girl (who sometimes gets pimples and spills tomato sauce on her shirt) who has a nice family and a nice life, but she doesn’t want to be stuck in the same tiny town, and she decides she’s going to make a better life for herself. So she works hard in high school, applies for a scholarship, but is denied, forcing her to choose between two community colleges. She shows up to her first class late, and her second class as well, and has to make an extra effort to (here it is) balance the negative first impression she gives her professors. She has a part-time job to support herself while getting her degree, and has to make time to get to the gym after classes or work. This girl has to (wait for it) balance her life between school and work and  friends and family. Then this girl meets an attractive guy who is studying a challenging subject which he loves (at the other community college) but he is on a scholarship and has to keep his GPA high enough, so he spends all his time in the library (or on Google – I don’t know where people cram for exams these days) and he doesn’t have much attention for anything outside of that. There’s some inter-school rivalry, romantic tension, and a first date, more romantic tension, perhaps a fight or some jealously. (Do they work it out and stay together? We have no idea, we have to keep reading to find out.) All her commitments start wearing on her. Late-nighters turn to all-nighters, and calls go unanswered. Another misunderstanding and quarrel (ahh, the drama!). Her health suffers because of the stress, causing her grades to drop, so she gets more stressed, and the grades drop further, to the point where it jeopardizes that degree she needs to get a job in the city (dun dun dun dun). Then…the guy shows up with flowers and pizza (which means she’ll need to go to the gym, but who turns down pizza?), and he helps her study for the test, which she passes…and I’m not going to keep going, but wasn’t that so much more satisfying?

Why? Because it had balance. She didn’t get everything she wanted, she had to make choices, and her effort and sacrifice balanced what she achieved – it wasn’t handed to her on a silver platter so it meant more.

In the same way, someone who just loses – loses their keys, loses their job, loses the battle, loses the war, loses their family, loses their friends, loses their fortune, loses their mind…this is as unreadable as the first because there’s no hope to balance what seems a single, long, inevitable defeat. If it’s a sure victory, the reader will get bored, and if you only give hopelessness and misery without relief and an occational ray of sunshine, eventually the reader will stop reading because he knows the outcome as surely as he knows the first (unless you pull a dues ex machina, which some would call a questionable tactic). Any binge-worthy show does this balancing act masterfully.

This idea also explains why, in fantasy stories, the powerful wizard can’t just wave his magic wand and send the dark lord back to whence he came.

In my second writing exercise from the Ink Slingers Guild meeting, we see brief example of this concept:

burn, history, random,

“There is nothing random about this,” Henna told the inspector. “This was a
deliberate act of premeditated arson.”
The inspector glared down at her over his clipboard, and made a note before
walking away without a word. Henna sighed, and looked around for someone who
would be able to help her. She tried not to notice the still burning house, but
it was hard as it was right in front of her and in flames. Flames edged in
green.
“Random, my foot,” Henna muttered.
“I’d have to agree,” a voice behind her said pleasantly, but she jumped as if
they had shouted. She turned to find a handsome man with silver hair and
piercing blue eyes standing there, looking at her with the hint of a smile on
his lips. He wore a jacket, but there were no marking to identify his position
or rank.
“Who are you?” Henna asked.
“A watcher of worlds,” the man told her, and a shiver ran down Henna’s spine.
“What do you want with me?” she whispered. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“I know that,” he nodded. “But the others won’t. They’ll just see this -” he
jutted his pointed chin towards the smoking ruin, “-and the rest will be lost in
history.”
“But you’re going to help me?” Henna asked, clutching desperately at the straw
he left hanging so tantalizingly close yet unspoken. “You’ll help me find out
who did this and get back what they stole?”
His smile widened ever so slightly. “For a price.”
______________________________________________________

The loss of an object of some importance is balanced by the gain of an ally (a questionable ally, but for the moment, an ally nonetheless), and the gain of assistance must be balanced by a price.

A well-balanced tale draws the reader along, because he is never quite sure what is waiting around the corner – he has to turn the page to find out!

So, I’m curious – what are you reading now? Is it a page-turner? Why or why not?

❤ DragonBeck

The End

Here’s the last one – just in time for the Ink Slingers Guild meeting tomorrow. This writing exercise reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Dark Tower, which is what happens when you give this fantasy writer a word like “technology” to work with (thank you Brandon).

Die (my word), technology, mouth.

After the age of technology had died, passing in flame and ash and leaving the
shape of the world changed, rivers dry and flat lands where mountains used to
be, only a few remembered how things used to be. Martin reflected on this as he
stood at the mouth of the cave, the dark forbidding and complete. No sound came
from inside, it was as if time had stopped and swallowed whatever lay beyond.
The midday sun burned down, heating the back of his neck where his cowl had
slipped off his head, but even this did little to make the cool darkness
appealing. Martin would have rather roasted alive than stepped foot within, but
he had made it this far on his fated journey. He would continue, but only after
a rest, a moment spent gathering his thoughts and steeling his will. The legends
did not say what awaited him at the end, only that he must go, for if he didn’t,
the silver monsters would return, and this time they would leave nothing of the
world at all. A slow deep breath escaped Martin’s parched lips, and he took his
first step towards his last days on this earth, no more knowing what lay between
him and the end than he knew of the end itself.

________________________________________________________

The rest of my life has been put on the back burner of late because I’ve been working on getting my fourth book ready for release, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the Dark Tower movie – it’s at the top of my list when I’m able to resurface into the real world.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

❤ DragonBeck

Lost Wand

Writer’s thought for the week: for many, writing is a hobby. For a writer, one needs other activities for hobbies, and for this writer, that would be baking. I bring something yummy to each Ink Slingers Guild meeting to have with tea, and last time I brought carrot cake cupcakes with my own special cream cheese icing. According to Lisa, it would be fine if I just brought the icing, and forget the rest of it 🙂

That thought was probably inspired by my second writing exercise from the meeting:

Ghastly, tea, crunch

“So, how did it go?” Tripsy asked when Nella staggered through the door.
“Uh, ghastly,” the little pixie groaned. “And the worst part is that I have to
go back next week.”
“Whatever for?” Tripsy asked.
Nella looked sheepish. “Well, she asked me again, and I just couldn’t say no.
What?”
Tripsy gave her a stern look. “You know she’ll just keep asking. You have to
learn to say no.”
“But she’s so…” Nella fluttered her glimmering wings as she searched for the
right phrase. “Large.”
“And what does that have to do with anything?” Tripsy tilted her head curiously.
“She looks like she could eat me in two bites, her teeth just crunching right
through my bones, and then pick my wings out of her teeth with a sword,” Nella
protested. “I can’t just say no!”
“Well, then, I guess you’re having tea every week with Mrs. Freston,” Tripsy
shrugged and turned back to the book she had been reading. A gasp made her
glance up, and then she was on her feet, hurrying to her friend, who had turned
white and staring, her hand fluttering inarticulately. “What’s wrong?”
Nella turned glassy eyes to her. “I left my wand.”
________________________________________________________

I hope you enjoyed that as much as Lisa enjoyed my icing!!

I’d love to hear what your favorite yummies are to read (or eat)! Let me know in the comments!

❤ ❤ DragonBeck

Gift and Curse

Hi everyone!

I have been very busy lately, finishing up the second edition of book one, and readying book four for the final step before it is released (the date will be revealed soon!)

Posting my writing exercises from the last ISG meeting has taken a back seat, but I’m finally getting around to it now – no rest for the wicked and all that!

On this first one, mine dovetailed brilliantly with Alanna’s story – so much so that I butted in and read before Brandon, because it was really too good to pass up. You can read the rest of the exercises (including Alanna’s and Brandon’s) here 🙂

sliver, spin, birthday,

A sliver of moon peeked briefly through the dark clouds, and then disappeared
again. Jess turned in a circle with her eyes closed, the slow spin getting
faster and faster as she tried to pinpoint the source of the disturbance. It
moved constantly, flitting here and there, always just ahead of her or behind
her.
A howl rose into the night, and her skin prickled with gooseflesh. She gripped
the long iron knife tighter, her ears straining for any sounds in the woods that
were out of place even as she continued to feel out the black pulsing that drew
her on even as it repulsed her. Ever since her sixteenth birthday this had been
her gift and her curse. A twig cracked sharply, and her eyes flew open to meet
gleaming red eyes in the rustling leaves in front of her. Her breath caught in
her throat, and she brought her weapon up, but the creature did not come forth.
The eyes stared at her, then blinked once.
Over the thundering of her heart in her ears, the darkness sang to Jess, calling
her, but something was wrong. She stood still, waiting for the creature to make
the first move, but then the eyes blinked once more and disappeared, and she was
left standing alone in the cold, silent forest with only the wind for company.
__________________________________________________________

What are you reading? What are you writing? Let me know!

❤ DragonBeck