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Guardians of the Path: Wasteland – UPDATE

Hi there wonderful people!

As you can probably already tell from the picture and title of this post………book 5 is not a bit late, it will be published precisely when it means to be.

In this case, a few more days.

And in the meantime, please enjoy this little sneak peek/preview/teaser of the Guardians of the Path: Wasteland, coming soon to a screen or page near you:

 

Cedar Jal sat with his back against the tree, his hands under his armpits to keep his fingers from freezing. The tiny flame Ria had conjured flickered bravely in the wind. It didn’t seem to realize it was outnumbered and doomed. Cedar empathized with it.
Jæyd sat next to Timo, their heads close in conversation. The Daleman now had a frown permanently imprinted on his face. The elf stood, placing her hand on Timo’s shoulder for a moment, then came to sit beside Cedar.
“Did you scare Timo with your reaction to this place?” Cedar asked.
“Why would you ask that?”
“His folk don’t like magyc, but invisible magyc that you can’t see was even worse. I can’t say that I disagree,” Cedar stated.
“I told him it would be alright,” Jæyd said. “How are you faring?”
“As well as can be expected,” Cedar said.
Jæyd laughed. “And with our new Ria? How are you faring with that?”
“It’s so odd,” Cedar said. “She was just a little girl a week ago, and now she’s a grown woman.” He looked down at his toes for a long time before he moved his eyes back to Jæyd. “She even looks like Her.”
“I know,” the elf said.
“So that means the Prophecy is coming to pass,” Cedar said.
“Possibly.”
“She doesn’t know anything,” Cedar said. “I don’t want to tell her, but someone should. She should know.”
“I believe she does, at least part of her,” Jæyd said. “When she-”
She stopped, grabbed Cedar’s arm and hauled him to his feet.
“What is it?” he asked, calling for his bow and only finding his guitar.
“Eyes.”
Cedar looked, and saw the pair of glowing points just outside the firelight. He tried to call his bow, but the guitar refused to change. Another pair of lights joined the first, then a third, and then they were surrounded. The snuffling breaths and cracking twigs multiplied the number of the creatures, but when Cedar counted the points, he only counted thirteen pairs. Not terrible odds. Though we don’t know what those eyes belong to.
That thought was not a comforting one, and he tried again to call his bow, but the guitar remained as it was. Demonfire.
Timo, Luca, and Ria joined them close to the fire, staring out at the blackness. A series of chattering yips came from behind them, and then answered from in front. The eyes came closer. A gust of wind drove the flames higher, and the eyes retreated.
“They do not like the fire,” Jæyd noted.
“We should make torches,” Timo said.
“Out of what?” Luca snapped.
At the edge of the light, lithe shapes on four legs darted between the shadows, eyes blinking. Suddenly they all went still, eyes wide and fixed. Not a sound was heard. Cedar steeled himself. The shape at the front crouched, light shining off bared teeth.
A far-off roar reverberated through the air, and all eyes snapped to the dark sky overhead. Cedar searched the blackness, and the stars blinking out and back to life, and he thought a shape moved overhead but it was hard to tell with the shifting stars. The roar repeated, closer this time, and the eyes scattered.
The Guardians waited, but they did not return. The roar did not sound a third time.
“We have a guardian angel,” Timo commented.
“An angel with teeth, who probably wants to eat us,” Luca said, and huddled closer to the fire.
“At least we are still alive,” Timo said.
“For now,” Luca muttered in return, refusing to be comforted. Or comforting, Jæyd thought.
“We should get some rest,” the elf said. “We have a long journey tomorrow.”
“I’ll take first watch,” Cedar stated, knowing he wouldn’t be able to sleep.
He took up his position on the log, and watched as the other Guardians found places to lie down. Luca was asleep in an instant. Timo lay down, his hands clasped on his chest, his drums beside his head. Jæyd sat on the ground and used the end of the log as a pillow, her long auburn braid hanging over her shoulder.
The stillness of the night took over, and kept Cedar company as he kept watch. His golden eyes never left Ria, who slept curled up next to the smoking ashes, her head on her arm. Her hair was darker than when she was a child, her face still round but thinner.
Death’s words came back to haunt him. We are at a very special turning point in the confluence of the worlds. Events which are beyond you, and even beyond Me, are upon us. Death had also hinted at impending Chaos. Cedar thought it was very unfair that he was to be the one to prevent or cause it, and yet not know what action or choice would bring about either end.
“Death and His Mandate can go burn in demonfire,” Cedar muttered. “I’m sure He must know, but His lips are sealed.”
Cedar frowned, trying to see where he had gone wrong with the girl, aside from the still tender point that he had killed her using First Magyc. She was too young, at least she had been when she was twelve. The Maker of Marks had been ambiguous about what the girl was or was not, as had Death. How was Cedar to know she would return as Aethsiths?
She stirred in her sleep, and Cedar started forward, then settled back. He didn’t want to smother her. His frown deepened. He was happier than he could express that she was alive, well, and here under his watch, but her presence also stirred up unpleasant memories and feelings. She was more of a mystery now than before, and she didn’t know any more than they did.
He looked skyward, at the strange stars in patterns he didn’t know. Some people believed the stars could answer questions and prophesy. Cedar only knew the stories people wove into the points of light in the sky. He wondered if the people here had stories for the patterns like those in Demona, stories they told their children around hearth-fires.
She is going to die and there is nothing I can do about it.
A wetness stung his eyes, and he blinked. Emotions writhed in his stomach, balling into an unrecognizable mass of agony. He knew there was anger and fear and regret mixed in with the joy and hope. Each heightened the others, and left him wishing he could banish them all.
“Demonfire,” he whispered. “Demonfire demonfire demonfire!”
“Are you trying to bring them down upon us?” Jæyd asked, settling beside Cedar. “Or did you leave something behind in the Other World?”
“It’s not time for your watch,” Cedar said, startled then alarmed he had been so absorbed that he hadn’t noticed her move.
“I cannot sleep,” the elf said, and she leaned back, gazing at the sky. “It is so odd where the currents of the world take us.”
“Odd is one word for it, but not the one I would choose,” Cedar replied.
“Did you ever imagine as a child you would be caught up in such a story as ours?” Jæyd asked.
“Does anyone?” Cedar asked, and his eyes fixed once more on Ria. “Do you think she did?”
“Perhaps,” Jæyd said.
“Do you think I should have kept her with us?” Cedar asked, dreading the answer.
“I cannot say. She was an extraordinary girl, but perhaps it is the woman we need. If she had remained in Demona, she would be the same little girl,” Jæyd said. “And perhaps that would have been enough. Or perhaps she would have died. It was her choice and action to go back, remember? Who can say that was not the best thing to do? Perhaps it was what she needed to do to grow into the woman she needed to be.”
“Now that is odd,” Cedar muttered. “I still cannot wrap my mind around it. How could she have been twelve years old a few weeks ago, and now-” He gestured at the sleeping woman.
“The Worlds are not connected,” Jæyd said. “They float independent of one another through the Voide, like bubbles of golden light in a mist. At least according to the stories of my people.”
“That sounds so simple and innocent,” Cedar said. “Alas for us it didn’t remain so.”
“Good fortune, bad fortune, who is to say but Time?” Jæyd told him.

 

❤ DragonBeck

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Fate

This is an Ink Slingers Guild writing exercise, brought to you by me. Enjoy!

sabotage, flabbergasted, saturate, lime,

The woman came down from the dais, her sleeveless lime green dress flowing behind her like sea foam. Natan’s eyes followed her, never blinking to make sure he didn’t miss some trick or sleight of hand. Wonder saturated the gazes of all others, and made him nauseous. He was trying to discover a way to sabotage her plan, but she had sunk her fangs into the hearts of all the king’s subjects, they would no more deny her than they would deny their own need to breathe. Natan tried to see what she carried in her hands, but people shifted and pushed, trying to get closer to the witch woman they idolized. He pushed too, and was rewarded with a clear view of the woman. She was beautiful, with golden skin and dark eyes, but her smile was cruel. He was flabbergasted when he saw what she carried – a child, no more than a year or two old, sucking on its fist. It – for he couldn’t tell whether the child was male or female – had pale blond hair and eyes like sapphires, and shining on its forehead was the mark of seven stars, pale silver against the child’s skin. Shock rocked Natan back on his heels, and he tried to wrap his mind around the impossibility. That woman should be screaming in pain where her flesh met the child’s, yet her look was as serene and cold as ever, not a hint of pain or even mild discomfort as she carried the child out the wide door and into the sunlit square, where more of the adoring citizens awaited their fate with joyous oblivion.
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❤ DragonBeck

Sparkly Badgers Easter Egg Hunt

Happy Good Friday all!!

Ready for an epic Easter Egg Hunt which will take place over the interweb from today through to Easter Sunday? Fifteen wonderful and sparkly authors have hidden eggs on their websites and blogs – find all the eggs, collect all the letters and unscramble the anagram, and you get your choice of one of the ebooks above just for hunting! In addition, you’ll be entered in the drawing to win ALL the ebooks and ACTUAL chocolate eggs:

Clues are posted in the Facebook event should you need them – Good luck, and may the eggs ever be in your favor!

❤ DragonBeck

P.S. connect with the lovely authors – they would love to hear from you:

Claire Buss

Margena Holmes

Terry Poole

J Crawford Steel

 

The Hunters

My writing exercise from the last Ink Slingers meeting took a little bit of a darker turn. Enjoy!

Solitary (my word), caffeine, myther,

A solitary star glimmered in the sky for a moment, before the dark clouds
obscured it. Three figures sat, their voices a soft murmur, huddled close to the
fire, which struggled to hold its own against the wind, mythering through the
creaky boughs above. Jack hid in the shadows, shivering in the cold, aching to
join them in the warmth. The smell of hot spiced grease drifted over, with
undertones of caffeine, and made his stomach growl. He stood there for a minute
longer, but could not make himself go to the men and the promise of warmth and
shelter. He turned to go, his bare foot shifting in the leaves, and a twig
snapped. Immediately the men stopped talking, their invisible faces turned to
him, and Jack’s skin prickled. One stood, and with a swift motion, he lifted the
bow beside him and nocked an arrow. Something told Jack that if he moved, the
arrow would find its way to his heart before he could get away.
“You want to come out into the light where we can see you boy?” the archer said,
his voice slow and even. Jack stood frozen, unsure if it was more dangerous to
run, or to go the men around the fire.
_________________________________________________________________________
Cake, endless, plank

“You’re scaring him, Plank,” one of the other men spoke up. “Why don’t you put
away the sharp killing instrument and maybe he’ll come. Hey boy,” he called to
Jack. “Come on over. The fire’s warm, and we have bacon and corn cakes if you’re
hungry.”
Jack was so hungry he couldn’t think straight, and his vision was going blurry.
He would’t be able to eat though, because his teeth were clamped too tightly
together, though his shivering still rattled his jaw, protesting the endless
cold. The man with the bow lowered it slowly.
“Come out, boy. We aren’t going to hurt you.”
Jack may have decided to go to the fire, but before he could act on it, the
world swam into blackness. Little by little, a sharp, pricking sensation wormed
its way into his awareness, and he realized it was warmth returning to numb
fingers and toes. Someone had built the fire up, and it danced and leaped in the
stiff breeze. Three figures sat watching him, two with their hoods up, one with
his face bared. That face was weathered, with three white scars slicing down the
left side through the thick black beard on his cheek.
“You’re lucky, boy. You weren’t two minutes away from frost bite, but you can
thank whatever gods look over you that you get to keep all your extremities.”
Jack sighed. “No gods watch over me. You should send me away now, before the
things that hunt me come for you.”

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I hope to have some exciting news for you soon regarding the release date of Book #5 of the Guardians of the Path (and a cover reveal!!). In the meantime, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of First Magyc.

Keep being awesome!!

❤ DragonBeck

A Look Back At My 2017 Resolutions

Hi people! So, as is only natural, at the end of 2016 I published a blog outlining my lofty hopes and dreams for 2017. You can read it here.

Let’s have a look at what those were, and how many of the got done, in part or in whole:

  1. Write. A lot. I did this. Not as much as I’d hoped (I wanted to get the first draft of my fifth novel done, but that didn’t happen). I rewrote book 1, and finished book 4, wrote some Stories My Friends Started, and some flash fiction writing exercises; and a few short short stories for anthologies. And a story to submit to Writers of the Future (it didn’t win but it was awesome).
  2. Read. Not quite as much as I write, but at least some. I did this!!! I read the Pendragon series (awesome) and Second Chances by Alanna J. Rubin (also awesome!).
  3. Keep Erika happy with my quota of Stories My Friends Started (if you’d like to help me with this particular resolution, go to Storiesmyfriendsstarted.com, and give us a sentence to start!) I sort of did this – Erika may disagree, but you can see what I did do here. “Jumping Back”, “Quiet”, “Liabilities of Language”, and “Inspiration” are a few of my favorites, as well as the rather impressive (if I do say so myself) four-part “Magic Mirror” story.
  4. Write/publish stories in the much-anticipated sequel to The Death of Jimmy – The Purge of Jimmy (coming soon). Yes – get your copy here for just $0.99!!
  5. Write/publish stories in Super Useless (coming sooner). And yes!! Get your copy of these delightful people with not so super superpowers here ($0.99)!
  6. Get my 2017 anthology in on time and within the specified word count. I did this too! “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. You can get your copy here, also $0.99!
  7. Publish Book IV of the Guardians of the Path series. Yes! Go me! You can get the first four books here!
  8. Write first draft of Book V of GOTP (and dare to hope it will be published at the end of the year). Yeah, not so much. Strike one *sad face*.
  9. Write a novella series (or two). Yeah, really not so much. Strike two *sheds a tear*
  10. Savor the coffee. Let the Force flow through me… I did this. Lots of delicious coffee, and I saw Star Wars: Rogue One, though I haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet, but soon.
  11. Spend lots of time with my family. I did this too. We Skyped a lot, because we’re spread out across the U.S. now.
  12. Spend lots of time with my amazing companions in the Ink Slingers Guild, drinking tea, laughing, and being awesome. I did this. It was awesome.
  13. Be awesome in general. I think I did this.
  14. Spread the awesomeness. I beta read a couple books for some friends of mine, baked people yummy things, did a lot of networking this year, made a super cool little calendar for the Ink Slingers Guild.
  15. Bake yummy things. So many yummy things: chocolate chip cookies, strawberry jam biscuits, gingerbread, mince pies, shortbread.
  16. Make some good memories. I went to California to see where I was born, I went to Megacon, I went to the movies to see Thor: Ragnarok with my mom for my birthday, I went to see WD HAN in concert.
  17. Do something that I haven’t done before. I went to Megacon – my very first Convention! It was awesome!
  18. Go somewhere new. I’m not sure if this totally counts, but here goes: I flew by myself for the first time to visit my sister in California. It wasn’t new so much – I was born there, but it was the first time I’d been back in 24 years, so it felt like some place new. My sister also kept complaining about how new everything was, and all the new buildings that were being put up, so I feel that lends credence to my assertion that this counts.
  19. Don’t spend too much time on the internet (very important). I totally did this. You can read about my internet-free adventure here.
  20. Find that dragon, and travel the world a-dragonback (from 2016). In progress.
  21. Take over the world (also from 2016). Also in progress.

And that’s the last one – not bad for a year!! I am very proud of myself for actually getting most of my stuff done! Now I’ll have to think up some awesome resolutions for 2018….

❤ DragonBeck

Dragon Miscalculation

Here’s the last of my writing exercises from the last meeting. A fun little piece (which deserves a fun little picture) from a triumvirate of odd words:

popcorn, fox, hustle,

The queen sat on the makeshift throne, the silver cape lined in fox fur thrown
over the stump. Her face was rigid, and her eyes were cool as she gazed out at
the motley assortment of woodland folk in front of her.
“What is the meaning of this?” she demanded, her voice as regal as her
expression.
The gathered creatures shuffled and looked at the others on either side of them,
hoping someone would step up and take charge. No one did. “I do not have all
day,” the queen said, her voice hardening further.
“Tell me what is the meaning of this?” She threw her arm out and pointed at the
mounds of fluffy white material that covered the fields for as far as the eye
could see.
A small fairy with blue wings stepped forward, bowed hastily, and then again, as
if this would buy him time.
“Well, your majesty, you see, it went like this,” he began, and then coughed
nervously.
“They stole it from us first!” an angry voice shouted from the back, and a
chorus of agreement sounded out.
It disappeared immediately when the queen raised her hand. “You’ll have to start
at the beginning.”
“Those humans stole our magic jewels,” the blue fairy said in a bolder tone, now
empowered by his fellows. “We just wanted to get them back. So we came up with
this idea, for a hustle, you might call it.”
“That doesn’t explain why the farmers crop is now popcorn,” the queen said.
“We needed a distraction,” the little fairy told her, and glanced at the red
dragon at the other end of the group. “Ember flew overhead and set the field on
fire. We thought it was just going to burn, we didn’t think it would do that.”

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A little tidbit: the Ink Slingers are going to be at Tampa Bay Megacon this coming weekend Saturday 30th of September through Sunday 1st October. It would be awesome to see you, come pay us a visit in Artists’ Alley!

More soon,

❤ DragonBeck

Back to Faerie

Hello all! This is the first writing exercise from the last Ink Slingers Guild meeting.

There’s something very appealing about juxtaposing everyday objects (like bathtubs) with something you don’t see every day (like faeries).

Fingers, faerie, bathtub,

“What is that?” Tipsy wrinkled his nose as he peered into the small washroom.
The smell assaulted him like a hammer swung by a troll, and his bright blue eyes
began to smart and water. “Lindy, are you in there?”
“Don’t touch anything!” a flustered screech greeted him, and then Lindy’s small
frame came rushing through the colored smoke, clearing enough of a path so that
he could see the bathtub, which was filled with a red liquid that looked
horribly like watery blood.
“What is that?” Tipsy repeated.
Lindy glanced over her shoulder, and shrugged. “Strawberry juice.”
“Oh. Why is it in there?”
“Because that’s what the spell book said,” Lindy announced, and marched past
him, peeling off her long leather gloves. Her fingers were raw and burned.
Large, white blisters covered her right palm.
“You shouldn’t be touching that,” Tipsy said, following her and waving his
hands, though she couldn’t see her distress. “You don’t know the first thing
about spellwork.”
At this, she rounded on him, and he realized he should have chosen his words
more carefully. He quailed under her hot glare.
“I may not know anything about spellwork, but at least I’m trying! While you’re
off trying to become human, I’m here trying to get us back to faerie, where we
belong!” Somewhere during her tirade, tears had leaked out of the corner of her
eyes, and as Tipsy was trying to come up with something that would make the
tears disappear, the bathtub gave an ominous gurgle.
________________________________________________________

So tell me, what are you reading? What are you writing? Any recommendations?

❤ DragonBeck

Mystery Man – A Stories My Friends Started

For anyone who’s not familiar with Stories My Friends Started, the concept is simple: a person gives us a single sentence, and one of the Ink Slingers writes a story beginning with that sentence.  A mystery person gave me this starter, but I really liked what came of it 🙂

Searching the corners of her mind, she could not shake the feeling that she knew this mysterious stranger.

Or perhaps Clara’s mind was playing tricks on her, trying to come up with a way to entertain her so she made it through this agony of boredom with some of her sanity intact.

Her father, Lord of Westin, was an important figure in the court, and as such, his family was obligated to attend such functions as this ball. With lavish decoration and scrumptious food, it could have been Clara Westin was simply a jaded, over-privileged young woman who had never known anything but her ostentatious life.

But if one could look past the disdainful eyes into the thoughts behind them, one might see a keen sense of balance of right and wrong, and an astute shrewdness that belied the smooth skin and rosy cheeks of youth.

Clara tried to figure out what it was about the man without staring outright at him. It took some study, but she finally decided it was something in the pleasing yet serious lines of his face, and the way his eyes watched the whole room, somehow seeing more than what was simply there. I do know this man, perhaps from somewhere long ago, but I know him.

It was disconcerting, knowing and not knowing at once. It bothered her, which irritated her. She was the daughter of a Lord, and she was above standing here being tormented by it.

As Clara made her way across the crowded foyer of the wealthy patronage of some artist who had their latest masterpiece on show, the man turned and disappeared. Clara walked through the rooms of the ostentatious home, trying to find him, but he was well and truly gone.

He may have been gone, but his face would not leave her mind. It turned up in her dreams. She thought she saw him in other men, but when she looked again, it had changed to less appealing countenances. She doodled his face on pieces of parchment and in the fog on the mirror after a hot bath.

And then he reappeared in the most unexpected way. Clara was browsing through the library and found a tome so old the pages were made of brown cotton instead of parchment, and the binding was frayed. Intrigued by the ancient runes of the title, which she could not quite make out, but thought they looked familiar, Clara pulled it out and went to sit by the window. The pages were heavy and resisted her wish that they turn. In thick ink made in the days when days things were made to last for ages, family names, details, and portraits filled the pages.

Clara was lost in the history of the realms of Westin and Hortford and Bellmast and Slatemore on the Sea, her eyes moving over the events written in the dry wordage of bookish historians and the precisely depicted faces in the pictures, until she had gone back through a ten of thousands of years and reached the Time of Flame and Frost, the earliest of the known histories, and then he was there.

She blinked and forgot how to breathe. Peering closer, she looked twice and then again, to ascertain she was seeing what she thought she was seeing. The same intense eyes, the same chiseled face, looked back at her from the ancient page. It was him.

Clara read the facts of this picture, still holding her breath, and somehow not noticing that the ancient semantics and inflection that made the language almost unrecognizable in the present did not hinder her in the least. His family name was Ir’Morgon. They owned estates up in the flatlands beneath the Hedran Mountains before they were carved up into the lands of Hortford and Bellmast. After assimilating all the dry information which told Clara precisely nothing, she turned her eyes back to what must be a family portrait.

An older man with a beard and the same eyes as the mystery man and a woman with grey curls and crows feet at her eyes sat in the middle. Two younger women with features like the older woman stood to the left, and each had a man beside them, hands clasped between them, obviously husbands.

On the right was the mystery man. Clara spent many long moments memorizing every line before she noticed there was one more in the picture.

Standing slightly behind the man, with her chin on his shoulder and her arms around him was a woman with wide eyes and dimple in her chin from her mysterious smile.

Clara stared at the woman who had her face and let out the breath she was holding.

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I hope you enjoyed that – if you’d like more, head over to Stories My Friends Started, and leave us a sentence!!

❤ DragonBeck

To Die Horribly by Rhiannon Matlock

Stories My Friends Started

From Nicole Beck… Thanks for always being inspiring.

She caught a whiff of bleach and she couldn’t help it – she started looking for any blood that may have been overlooked……

She’d been over this scene a dozen times. Had been back even more times. There was something off, something she knew she was missing.

She didn’t believe in that psychic power or sixth sense bullshit, but she did trust instinct. She racked her mind. Had they already released the house? That would be the only legit reason for the bleach. A cleaner scrubbing the place down and making it usable for the vulture real estate agent jokers who just wouldn’t stop pestering the police to restore the rights to the property back to them.

The thing was, she wasn’t a cop. There was no way she would know for sure when or even if the department had let it…

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