Ink Slingers Guild

Needful Things meets Rumpelstiltskin

This is the second writing exercise from the last meeting. The title was suggested by Brandon, and I don’t know what “Needful Things” refers to, but I like it! I am thinking this little piece could go somewhere magical if it were expanded a bit – Enjoy!!

Trip, boat, kettle, goddess (I honestly forget which word was mine)

Brin wandered through the store, her eyes gazing about at the myriad wares offered for sale. Each was graced with a gold tag, tied with gold twine, and on the paper in graceful letters were written things like “your second kiss” and “an afternoon in the sun”. Brin passed a giant cast iron kettle that sang though no fire was lit under it, a tiny boat in a tiny jar that sailed in fair waters, but as Brin passed the sky within the glass clouded and the water grew choppy, and a hundred other things that she couldn’t see.
“Can I help you?” a smooth voice issued from the shadows at the back of the shop.
Brin stopped and peered closer, trying to see the owner of the voice. She took a few steps forward and made out a wrinkled old man with copious amounts of curly silver hair and a large smile.
“I’m looking for a token for my aunt,” Brin said. “She said something about a goddess stone that she saw in the window?”
“Ah, yes!” the old man said. “Just in from Ireland this morning.”
He jumped off the stack of books he was using to come up to eye height, and trotted through the store with confident steps. He came back bearing a stunning jewel in a green velvet box, and Brin’s eyes widened.
“It’s a beauty isn’t it?” the man agreed.
“It doesn’t have a price tag on it,” Brin noticed.
“You’re right,” the man replied, and tapped his nose.
From a drawer, he pulled out gold twine and scissors, and wrote on a tag “A trip you’ll never take” before tying it around the jewel’s case. “What do you say? I daresay your aunt will look stunning wearing this.”
“She would,” Brin murmured, reaching out to touch the gem. “How do I pay?”
“You don’t,” the man assured her. “Just take the tag, and present it to your aunt, and all will be well.”
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❤ DragonBeck

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Just a Feeling

Hello all!

Work is progressing on Wasteland (Guardians of the Path book 5) very well – I hope to have it to the editor within a week *fingers crossed*. In the meantime, please enjoy this little writing exercise from the last Ink Slingers Guild meeting of July 2018 (where did the year go?):

resume (my word), force, honey (Lisa’s word, but it was going to be mine!), sound

“That’s not how you spell it,” she told him, peering over his shoulder.
He tried to shrug her away, covering the top half of the paper with his hand, but she lifted it up and pointed. “You need an accent on the end, other wise it’s resume, not resume’.”
“Don’t you have something better to do?” he asked, trying to force some honey into his voice so he didn’t sound like a pouting child.
She sat on the edge of the table beside him, swinging her legs. She still wore the peppermint striped tights she had worn the day they met.
“Not really,” she said, and her big green eyes followed the strokes of his pen. “You didn’t put the accent.”
He threw down the writing implement and ran a hand through his hair.
“I can do this later,” he said. “I’m going for a walk.”
“I’ll join you,” she said brightly, hopping down and scurrying after him.
She only came up to his elbow, and he was sure that the neighbors thought he had adopted a young girl. He had adopted her, in a sense, but she wasn’t young and she wasn’t a girl.
“Have you thought about it?” she asked as she danced among the brown autumn leaves covering the sidewalk.
“Of course I’ve thought about it,” he answered in a gruff voice. It was hard not to think about it, when every day she grew paler and more translucent. Her wasting didn’t seem to bother her, she was always so cheerful, but he wondered what would happen to her if she faded completely. This world wasn’t good for her.
“And have you had any ideas?” she stopped and turned her abnormally colored eyes on him, hope making them shine brighter than usual.
He sighed. “Not yet.”
“You will,” she said with supreme confidence.
“How do you know that?” he asked, following her as she continued down the pathway.
“Just a feeling,” she sang over her shoulder.
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❤ DragonBeck

Tutor and Student

I really liked this writing exercise – it could go places. Enjoy!

miniature, tutor, cap, puddle,

The governess glided into the library, her thin nose in the air and her thin lips pursed suspiciously. Her eyes narrowed when she saw Daved sitting alone in front of the fire, his nose buried in a huge tome with colored illustrations.

“Where is the tutor?” the governess demanded, making Daved start, and stare around with a guilty look.

He quickly closed the book and shoved it between the sofa and the wall, and snatched up his cap, which was lying on the sofa seat beside him, and jammed it on his head. “He left for the day, ma’am,” Daved mumbled, staring at his shoes.

“Speak up, young man,” the governess instructed. “No nobleman speaks as though his face were in a puddle.”

“He left for the day, ma’am,” Daved spoke up, looking somewhere over the governess’s shoulder.

She sniffed. “He will have to be informed that is not acceptable. What are you reading?”

Daved blinked, and answered very clearly. “History of the Twelve Realms by the Honorable Tracey Michelson.”

The governess frowned. “Why were there pictures?”

“There were no pictures,” Daved countered. “Perhaps you saw maps.”

The governess’s eyes narrowed further. “Let me see the book.”

Daved dug it out of the crack and clutched it tight. He whispered something to it, and handed it to the stern woman with a subdued look. She opened it, turned several pages, and several more, looking at him in disbelief. “I saw pictures, in color. They looked cheerful and frivolous, nothing that would be in a serious book of history,” she said, and flipped through more pages.

Daved shrugged. “There’s a map,” he said helpfully.

The governess put the book down on the coffee table, and gestured for the boy to sit back down. “As your lesson was cut short, I’ll bring tea early.”

Daved nodded and watched her leave the room, before he sat back down, pulled the book back onto his lap, and opened it to the page with the bright pictures of dragons and brave knights. On the mantle, the miniature man trapped under the crystal glass glared down at Daved, shouting inaudible words at the boy engrossed in the novel.

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❤ DragonBeck

“The universes are a strange place” – a writing exercise

Greetings beautiful people!

It has been quite a while since we’ve gotten together for a nice little interweb coffee and a chat to catch up. I’ve been busy – work on “Wasteland” is coming along slowly but surely. I promise to have it out by the end of the year, so help me all that is good in this world, or I might have to do something drastic like give up chocolate until it’s done (gasp!).

I held a Lord of the Rings marathon, and re-watched all the extended versions of the films (yes, all 14 hours of them), and am currently re-reading the books. I am almost done with the Two Towers, and enjoying it more than when I first read it, if that is possible.

The Ink Slingers were represented at Orlando Megacon in May, thanks to the lovely Erika and Alanna.

I submitted a little Guardians of the Path novella to Tor, and was rejected in just 3 days, which must be a record of some kind. I think these authors would tell me to keep calm and carry on, and that is what I intend to do!

I ran my books through the Kindle Unlimited program, but have yet to tabulate the results. If anyone has any information regarding the program and its success or impact, I would be most interested in hearing it!

I am almost done with my submission for the Ink Slingers’ annual anthology – we’re doing a science fiction themed anthology this year, so we’ll see how mine turns out. There are dragons and elves, but there are also flying vehicles and medical scanners, so I’m pretty sure that counts.

And finally, these are my writing exercises from the last Ink Slingers Guild meeting – a little bit darker than usual, but I hope you enjoy!

Relationship, shun, gun, practice.

Brin aimed the gun, closing one eye to bring the target into sharper focus, and breathed out slowly. It took many days of practice to be able to use this other-world weapon, but the fabric of the universe doesn’t allow elemental magic to pass through, so Brin didn’t have much choice. He squeezed the trigger, and rolled back with the recoil. The target dropped, a small black dot against the beige desert sand.

Brin took his time coming down from his rocky perch, and making his way to the dot, which grew larger, and resolved into something that looked like a man but wasn’t. Its face was pressed into the ground as if to shun the world, and the arms were bent at odd angles.

“The universes are a strange place,” Brin said aloud, standing over the dead body. “The relationship between life and fate, or love and nothing, or peace and death, cannot be understood from within, only by someone looking in from the outside.”

The dead body on the ground twitched, and Brin steeled himself, reaching inside for the magic that was no longer there, and hadn’t been for some years. For once that was a blessing and a curse. The creature would have found him much sooner, and Brin’s chance at returning to the plane of existence he should be in would have been lost. The body twitched again, and the head turned upwards.
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Cannibal, spoon, beach, display

“Do you think a cannibal got her?” Harry asked, unable to keep the excitement from his voice.

He clutched the tree branch with his legs so he didn’t fall off and waved his hands at her, fingers curled into claws.

Rissa rolled her eyes. “You don’t really believe in that sort of thing, do you? It’s more likely a werewolf.”

Harry pouted, and crossed his arms. “It’s not a full moon, and besides, werewolves don’t eat with spoons.”

Rissa didn’t have a reply for that. They had both seen the picture in the newspaper, the body on the beach, displayed like a sacrifice to a god, its innards gone, along with its tongue and most of its face. The spoon stuck in the sand marked the spot like a tombstone.

“So if it wasn’t a cannibal, and it wasn’t a werewolf, what was it?” a third voice chirped up.

Harry and Rissa looked up. Hidden in the foliage above them, a small face peeped out, eyes bright. Harry winced, and Rissa sighed.

“Marr, you can’t follow us around like this, we’re not friends anymore,” Rissa said, putting her nose in the air.

The effect was lost as she had to look up at Marr anyway. The small boy scampered down, agile as a squirrel, and looked at her hopefully. “I thought maybe you guys had forgiven me by now.”

“No, we’re never going to forgive you,” Harry spoke up.

Rissa nodded. Harry had gotten the worst of that, and Marr knew it. His little face fell, but then a calculating gleam came into his eyes.

“I know where we can find out what really ate the lady on the beach,” he said.

Harry and Rissa were silent, looking at each other with doubtful expressions.

“Do you really?” Rissa asked at last.

Marr nodded eagerly, and shimmied down the tree. “Come on! I’ll show you!”
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❤ DragonBeck

Round Robin Stories

Happy Friday 13th – an appropriate day for the following, I think!
Every two weeks the Ink Slingers meet to go over how awesome we are (joking, but seriously). Part of what we do is writing exercise – have to keep those minds and fingers limber, you know! Occasionally, we do a really fun exercise where we each take a paper, and write one sentence, then hand the paper left or right, and the next person continues the story with their own sentence.
I blame the sinister twist on all the stories to Brandon and Erika – it was pointed out that other members ended stories in sinister ways, but I think that is still attributable to Brandon and Erika’s influence; Alanna is super sweet and would ordinarily never throw anyone into a seemingly endless abyss.
Here are the stories I started:
“The Task”
They all stood in the circle, their shadows joined in a point between them by the magical fires burning behind them. The task had called them to this place between worlds, and their sour tethers were barely holding on. Morton tried to break free, the tethers were so loose, but something dark held a lifeline fixed to his core and he panicked. The darkness crept up inside him, threatening to take over and he felt his mind begin to fade into the background. A voice, sinister, whispered into his ear, into his mind. “So, again you forgot – and again you came.”
“Past and Future”
The potion was bitter and yet sweet at the same time, tasting of sadness and treasured memories, and he swallowed it all one gulp. Considering magic was involved, he expected an immediate result: it took about ten minutes to violently react. Torin doubled over in pain and fell to the ground as his bones cracked and reformed in quick succession. When the trembling had finally subsided, Torin took a deep breath, savoring the scents of his past and his future in his new body. His transformation was a sacrifice with one goal, and he had three cycles of the moon before he turned to ash.
❤ DragonBeck

Bite-Sized Reading

I can’t believe that I forgot to post this – I may have lied (or just been chronologically challenged) when I said I blogged twice last fortnight – oh, well, that’s a writer’s life for you. I hope you enjoy these!

Sugar (my word), incongruous, plague,

She walked into the old shop, assaulted by the smells of dust and mould and time. A bell chimed, but it sounded far away, and she didn’t think the store was that big. “Hello?” she called out, her voice tiny in the dim space. This was the right place, she had stood outside and checked the address written on the scrap of paper a half dozen times before working up the courage to come inside. She didn’t know what she was afraid of. It wasn’t as if she were going to catch the plague or anything horrible like that. “Hello?” she called out again. This time her voice bounced back to her from several different corners, making the hair stand up on her arms. She wished she had brought a jacket. As she kept walking through the shop, her eyes taking in the myriad of objects and furniture on display to the non-existent customers to keep her mind off why she was here, she noticed something that made her stop in her tracks. At first she thought it was the incongruous nature of the object – a shiny and immaculate tea set complete with sugar tongs and silver tray, sitting among such dusty and forgotten objects, but that wasn’t it. She stepped closer, and saw clearly what it was that had caught her attention from the corner of her eye. The pattern along the dishes was a repetition of the same symbol on the paper that had brought her here.
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shocked, fallow, wordy,

“The sad part of the whole tale was that the finest mind in all the realms was sentenced to lay fallow and go to ruin and waste, locked in a tower until the man died or the world ended,” James finished, only slurring a little, pointing dramatically at the ceiling of the pub. Trema leaned close to Halfard. “Does he always get this wordy when he’s drunk?” Halfard looked shocked. “Lass, he isn’t even close to being drunk.” Trema frowned, doubting the large man’s perception, but then she spied James collecting the coins from the other habitants of the pub with a hand that was steady and eyes that were clear and sharp. He looked up, caught her staring, and winked. She turned away, warmth infusing her cheeks, and didn’t look up until a thump and the protest of the chair announced that James had returned to the table. “Dinner’s on me,” he announced grandly. Halfard grunted, and took another chunk of bread. Trema nodded in thanks. “What was all that?” she asked. “All what?” James replied. “On the stage? Nothing. Remnants of a life best forgotten, my dear. By me, you, and everyone else.” He smiled brightly at her, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
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disagreement, phallic, board

The huge stones were arranged in a series of circles around the largest one, sitting in the center of the formation, casting a vaguely phallic shape against the darkening sky. “So, what do we have to do?” Lily asked, a nervous tremor in her voice. “We have to wait until the first star appears, and then it will lead us through the stones, into another realm,” Maria answered with infinite patience. The place had been boarded up and signs warning of imminent death or fines tried to scare would-be trespassers away. Maria ducked under one such, but Lily remained outside, shifting her weight from one foot to the next. Maria sighed. She couldn’t believe they were still having this disagreement, and when they were so close. “Look, do you want to find out what happened to Billy and the others or not?” she called out, all patience gone from her tone. “Yes, but,” Lily faltered. “Look, we don’t have time for this,” Maria called back as she stood and looked up at the sky. “I’m going to look for them. You can come if you want, or not.” She found the first faint glimmer of a star, and followed it into the dark, disappearing from view. “Maria?” Lily called, more agitated than ever. “Maria?” When Lily ducked under the forbidding sign, she looked up to find a million stars glittering in the sky and no trace of her friend.
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If you’re looking for more free reading, check out Stories My Friends Started – super cool short stories started with a line from a friend. You can give us a story starter here!

❤ DragonBeck

Silent Stranger

And the final Ink Slingers Guild exercise from the last meeting (published just in time for the meeting tonight): Hoodie, green, sight

A figure came into sight over the crest of the hill, a green hoodie obscuring their features. Berryl waited, leaning against the tree and taking small sips from the waterskin, waiting for the stranger to come to her. When the person got closer, she raised her hand in greeting, but the figure did not return the gesture, and simply continued down the road at a fast clip. Berryl blinked, her hand still in the air, and then hastily lowered it. She had been on this road for two weeks, and had encountered three people coming from the opposite direction before this fellow. They had been amiable enough travelers, and had stopped to talk and give news of the road conditions ahead. One had even offered her an apple they had pilfered from an orchard several days ahead. Berryl shrugged, picked up her pack, and set off down the road. She crested the hill the stranger had just come over, and surveyed the land on the other side, which looked much like the land she had just traversed, farmland interspersed with woodland. In the distance, a faint smudge suggested a larger forest, or perhaps mountains. Just as she proceeded to take her next step, a knife came from behind, and pressed against the tender flesh under her chin.

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More coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

Condemned and Outcast

flail, rushed, coterie (thanks to Kalvin – it means “a small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people”):

“You can’t excommunicate me, I founded this Coven!” Tera screamed at the robed figures condemning her from their high perches behind the half-moon table. Tall figures were suddenly on either side of her, grabbing her arms and rushing her out of the old cathedral, as she flailed and screeched. The sounds of her displeasure echoed long after she had been removed, and only when they had died down did the members at the table remove their hoods, casting uneasy glances at each other. Redd watched them with a carefully neutral expression. No one was certain about what they had done. As Tera had pointed out, she had formed the group, but under her tyrannical guidance, the Coven had become more of a coterie, and when Witches and Wizards who disagreed with her methods and beliefs started disappearing, and then turning up dead, it was determined that her influence was most likely at fault, and it had to end. “She won’t stop,” Treven, a nervous looking Wizard at the far end of the table said. “This will just make her angrier.” “Our laws won’t allow for anything more,” Nell answered briskly, pushing her glasses up her nose. “We have people watching her. She won’t cause any further trouble.”
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❤ DragonBeck

Ruined

Saturate, cupcake, alley,

Telly went up on the roof, carrying all her spell ingredients in the ancient cauldron that her great-great-grandmother had brought over from the old world. The second full moon of the month was bright, wrapped in a sliver halo that drowned out the closest stars. Telly took the old tome off the the top of the pile and flipped to the page of the spell. After emptying the cauldron, she lit a small fire, and proceeded with the steps. Noises drifted up from the alleys on either side of the apartment building, but she was lost in concentration, hurrying to get everything ready before the moon reached its peak. The potion was soon simmering gently, infusing the air with the smell of cupcakes as it seeped and was saturated with blue moonlight. Clouds began to drift in sometime before midnight, and Telly watched them with growing concern. Rain wouldn’t hurt the potion, but the moonlight was critical. Lightning flashed in the dark clouds that were slowly eating the stars, faint grumbles of thunder heralding something worse, and when the first fingers of darkness grabbed the edge of the golden moon, Telly saw with horror that the potion was changing before her eyes.
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❤ DragonBeck

A Wizard’s Eye

Hello world!

I have been very busy of late with numerous writing endeavors, which shall come to light soon, but probably not as soon as I would like. In the meantime, please enjoy the fruits of yours truly from the Ink Slingers Guild writing exercises of 31 January 2018:

Shadow, white, sunset

The sunset lit the sky in fire, and then the fire faded and died. Shevin watched the moon rise and the stars come out, sitting without moving and looking like a piece of the night itself. When he spoke, Jaden started with surprise.

“We should break camp now.”

Jaden nodded, rolled up his sleeping blanket and was on his feet in a moment. Shevin surveyed the shadows with his strange white eyes, eyes that saw more than they should.

“This way,” the wizard said.

Jaden followed him through the trees, trying to be as silent and swift, but his feet caught on roots and rocks that Shevin just glided over. Every night for the past week it had been the same, the pair traveling when other eyes weren’t watching, trying to make it to the border of the Woodlands without the Ember Guards catching them.

“I have to stop,” Jaden called out, and doubled over, gulping for air and massaging the cramp in his side. He looked up to find he was alone. “Shevin?” he called out in a soft voice, hoping the wizard had not gone too far ahead.

His only answer was the soft whisper of leaves.
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Killjoy, fraction, slime,

“Shevin?” Jaden called again, a little louder this time, his heart thundering in his chest.

A figure stepped out of the darkness, but it was too short to be the wizard. It also wasn’t wearing the luminescent uniform of an Ember Guard.

“Hello?” Jaden said hesitantly, gripping the hilt of the knife in his belt.

“Oh, don’t do that,” a cheerful voice tainted with the slime of cruelty spoke up. “It wouldn’t do you any good anyway.”

“Where’s Shevin?” Jaden asked, his voice wavering slightly as he searched the shadows hoping the wizard would appear and rescue him.

“It seems your protector has deserted you,” the figure laughed. “I don’t know why you would choose to go with him anyway. He’s such a killjoy, all that duty and honor nonsense he’s so fond of spouting, and yet, when it comes to it, he runs away and leaves his charge to fend for himself. If only he truly believed but a fraction of what he said, but alas, this world is no place for saints, and eventually the darkness will reign supreme in everyone.”

“That’s not true,” Jaden said.

“Oh? And how would you know that?” The figure stepped forward and raised its hood revealing eyes like Shevin’s clear silver orbs, but rimmed in red fire.
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shirk, iron, friends,

Jaden took a step back, and the figure smiled.

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Redial,” the man said and bowed low. “And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?”

Jaden stared at him, pressing his lips together.

“Oh, come now, how are we to be friends if I don’t know your name?” Redial said, his smile growing. “If you’re worried about the wizard, I can promise I haven’t done anything to him.”

Jaden frowned. If that was true, then where was Shevin?

Redial rolled his eyes. “Are you so enamored with him that you truly cannot believe he would shirk his duty? You don’t know him very well.”

“I know enough,” Jaden said, stepping back again.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere if I were you,” Redial continued, the redness in his eyes sparkling in a hypnotizing way. “You have no idea what’s out there.”

“What do you want with me?” Jaden asked.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Redial said. “If it makes you feel better, I want what Shevin wanted. To take you and,” he smiled slyly, “what you carry, to safety beyond the borders of the Woodlandand the reach of the Iron King.”

“And if I don’t want to go with you?” Jaden asked, drawing the knife a little further from its scabbard.

“You’ll find you won’t have much of a choice,” Redial replied.

 

 

❤ DragonBeck