Write Tip

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

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What I Learned From A Month of Social Media Abstinence

I was considering titling this post “Social Media: Gift or Curse?” but I thought that sounded a bit overly-dramatic, so I went with a statement of simple fact: What I learned from a month of staying off all my social media.

Social media.

Some people love it, some people don’t care.

Some people are gurus and linked in and synced up, and others wouldn’t know what to do with it if it danced naked in front of them.

Some people are on it every day, some people don’t use it as all.

And every gradient shade of grey between.

What is its purpose? Is it vital? Just because it exists, does it make it right? Should we live without it? Could we live without it? What impact does it have on our lives? I’d wager these are questions most people don’t ask.

I have mixed feelings on these matters. On a personal front, I believe the net effect of a growing volume of virtual reality is detrimental to reality reality (see “The Reality Bug”, Pendragon series, D.J. Machale.)

However, as an independent author, I would say social media is important. It’s a way (possibly amongst the best ways, and certainly the most far-reaching way) we can get word out of our amazing books, without having to beg and grovel to traditional publishers, who, I may remind you, have turned away the likes of J. K. Rowling 12 times and told her “not to quit her day job”, so they obviously don’t know everything.

I’m a pragmatist, and I prefer to take a middle-of-the-road view-point: I think like most things, social media has pros and cons.  Pro: last month, I connected with an author in Italy, via twitter (that particular line in my bio is accurate, which is not to say the other bits are inaccurate, but some people may find the information in my author bio hard to believe – but it’s all true, I swear). Con: one can waste a lot of time  on things that don’t really contribute to one’s life. In your twilight years, are you really going to look back and say “You know, I’m really glad I spent those hours looking at memes and satisfying my curiosity about those click-bait articles?”. This could just be me, but I don’t think so.

I do try to ration and schedule my social media time, and almost all of that allotted time is spent on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is mostly for personal things – I do have an author page, but it’s honestly more an extension of my twitter account. Reversely, Twitter is where I let my #writerslife out, with everything from #amwriting, to #writersproblems and #books. More recently, I’ve added to my social media presence by joining the Instagram community*, as authordragonbeck, and again this is a professional #indieauthor account (it took me a while to get the hang of the whole hashtag thing, but as you can see, I’ve become a master).

In the month of July, I participated in the #authorconfession and #MythCampNano games on Twitter. For this, I had to be on my Social Media every day, as the entire point of the thing is to connect and interact, and obviously to answer each day’s question. In order to balance that, I did an experiment and gave up social media – meaning Facebook and Twitter – for the month of August (for the sticklers who noticed that I posted blogs during this time, featuring the fruits of my Ink Slingers Guild writing exercise – yes, I wrote and posted blogs. However, wordpress allows one to post to Twitter, which in turn is linked to Facebook, without having to actually going onto either of those platforms, so I’m not counting that against myself).

This is a record of my findings of Social Media Abstinence:

No one died as a direct result. The world continued to turn. The sun did not go out (although there was an eclipse). The zombie apocalypse didn’t start (or if it did, I didn’t notice).

I experienced definite withdrawal symptoms. The first three days were the worst, with jittery cravings to “just quickly check”. The days after that were better. After a week, I no longer felt compelled to log into Facebook just to see if anything exciting had happened that I should know about. At the second week, it was a vague half-thought that passed as quickly as it came.

I relaxed. At some point in the middle of my experiment, I recalled I’d heard (some time ago) that if you were feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, just don’t watch the TV or read the newspaper for two weeks and see how you felt afterwards. As I don’t watch TV or read a newspaper, I didn’t think that applied to me. I have now reevaluated that consideration. Getting away from the drama is very calming. I highly recommend it.

On the 20th of August, just shy of three weeks into my experiment, Facebook texted me letting me know that a friend had shared a link, and letting me know that I could “see it here”. For the last 3 years, Facebook had never texted me to say anything, yet over the course of the next week, Facebook sent me messages each day, letting me know “so-and-so commented…” and “so-and-so updated…” and “so-and-so shared…” I guess Facebook missed me more than I missed it.

I noticed an interesting phenomenon: I only thought about checking Facebook or Twitter a) when I had completed one task, and hadn’t yet decided which task to do next (boredom) or when I had quite a few tasks that needed to be done, and I couldn’t decide which to do first (dispersal) or when I had picked my next task, but there was some reason I couldn’t begin that task for 5 or 10 minutes (waiting).

I read more.

I organized my bookshelf, and did my filing.

I played my guitar for the first time in over 3 years. I have no calluses left on my fingers, but I can still do a G-major chord.

I still had friends. I still saw them. We had tea. It was nice.

I got the second edition of my first novel done and the editing/proofing of my fourth novel done distraction free (i.e. no need to log in to let the world know “Finished a chapter so I’m going to get a cup of #coffee to reward myself #writerslife #editing #lovecoffee” and fifteen minutes later “Chapter six and I feel like my eyes are bleeding out of my head #writerslife #writersproblem #amediting #amwriting”) and this was soo much faster and more efficient. (Note to self: remember to repeat this when rewriting/editing/proofing any novel, please and thank you.)

Finally, after 31 days of my little experiment, came the big moment when I re-entered the matrix for the first time in a month. What was I going to find? Would anyone remember me? Would I remember anyone? Did I even know what my password was anymore? Was the answer to all life still 42? I still can’t answer that last one, but this is what greeted me:

And twitter:

Yes, I had missed things (like a boat-christening ceremony, which sounded like fun). And a couple other events. But not much – there were only 2 notifications per day. So would I do anything differently? I think not.

Conclusion: social media is revolutionary for independent authors (and other artists and artisans), but don’t let it take over your life. What’s in front of one is more important, and I don’t mean a phone screen. Take a break every once in a while. Take an extended break. Go outside. Talk to someone face to face. Play chess (on an actual board). Buy someone flowers. Learn how to greet someone in Klingon. Actually greet someone in Klingon and see what reaction you get. Or keep scrolling and liking and posting those selfies. This is not a sermon, this is just a statement of my thoughts based on my experience.

And I admit, as the fourth book in my fantasy series is about to be released, I am now going to dive back into social media with open arms, starting with all the amazing things that happened last month (coming soon to a blog post near you). And I am once again participating in #authorconfession!

So, what do you think? What are the pros of social media? What are the cons of social media? What tips do you have for minimizing distractions and getting more done?

❤ DragonBeck

*For those clever enough to catch that most of my Instagram pictures were actually uploaded during the end of July/beginning of August, which was partially during my social media black-out, there’s an explanation which doesn’t render my experiment invalid: I don’t have the Instagram app on my phone, and thusly I was unable to upload my (awesome) collection of writerly pictures. So, I emailed them to my sister, who logged on to my account on her phone, and uploaded them for me with the captions and hashtags which I had put together. It was my birthday present, and may have been bending the rules, but I don’t think it was outright cheating, as I wasn’t technically on social media 😉 I’ve been told my content is pretty cool, and you can check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/authordragonbeck

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

Well-prepared

Our second writing exercise from the last ISG meeting.  I had a bit of trouble with the word “bathroom” – it’s not really a word you find in fantasy stories very much (as far as I’ve seen, anyway). Write-tip: even if you don’t know where you’re going with a story, just keep going. As Shannon Hale said “…I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

quest (my word), bathroom, dazzle

There are a few things that one generally doesn’t take into consideration when
one is planning an arduous quest, and there are things that one does take into
consideration. Food, of course, in a necessity. As are horses. Weapons are a top
priority, arrows for goblins, swords for trolls and ogers. Any magical
implements that could protect from sorcerers and witches, while expensive and
hard to find, are more than worth the trouble to procure. Fire is important as
well, and a well stocked tinder box is always brought along.
Most questers would consider themselves well prepared with the above taken care
of. Burdock had certainly thought so, but now as he trudged beside the beautiful
princess of the Upperlands, he was painfully aware of the one thing that he had
not thought about at all. The bathroom. He was getting desperate to relieve
himself now, but they were still trying to escape the flat, barren lands with no
rock or tree to break the monotony of the terrain.
Each time Burdock thought his plight severe enough to muster up the courage to
ask for a momentary rest, and if she might look away, she would turn her
dazzling green eyes on him, and words failed. This was the fourth time this had
happened, and he was going to have to figure something out soon, or risk soiling
himself.

____________________________________________________________

On another note, I hope to have exciting news about the Guardians of the Path book 4 soon! It won’t be too much longer now!

❤ DragonBeck

Warmup to the Great Doom – 2nd Writing Exercise

On this last day of February (that’s 1/6 of the year gone already!) I give you the second ISG writing exercise.

I like this one for a number of reasons. First, I managed to get a dragon in there! Second, I managed to get “xenophobia” in as well – one of my favorite words. Third, the title amuses me 🙂

As a grammar note courtesy of Jen: as “warmup” is being used as a noun, it’s one word. When it’s used as an adjective, there’s a hyphen, and it becomes “warm-up”.

dragon-1578289_1280

Gargoyle, warmup (my word), doom,

“This is just a warmup to the great doom the overlord will unleash on the
world.”
Gredden tuned out the droning words and looked around at the gathered creatures.
They had come from all corners of the known world, unicorns and centaurs from
the south, gargoyles and goblins from the north, elves from the west, dwarves
and trolls from the east. Gredden was the only representative for men, and every
time he glanced at his fellow representatives he felt more and more inadequate
and useless.
“We must unify to protect ourselves,” the old centaur continued in his booming
baritone, the silver beard falling to his navel, his front hoof punctuating his
words. Grumbles greeted his last statement, as the proud races immediately threw
up figurative walls of distrust and xenophobia. It took a long time for the
centaur to restore order and a measure of quiet for him to continue speaking,
but as he opened his mouth, a shadow fell over the gathering.
Gredden looked up along with all assembled to behold the awesome and terrifying
sight of the gleaming scaled form of a red dragon coming in for a landing.
_____________________________________________________________

One final word – I should be getting book four of Guardians of the Path back from my editor any day now, so I’m really looking forward to that! I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going, when it will be released, and maybe have a sneak peek or two for you!

❤ DragonBeck

Omens teaser V – The Guardians Hall

The Guardians of the Path Omens, published by Witching Hour Publishing, IS TO BE RELEASED IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS! (I appologize for shouting, but it’s really very exciting for a writer to have a third novel out).

And here is the final bit for you to enjoy before the whole book comes out.

I have nothing to say about writing particularly, except possibly the most neglected write tip of all time: write. Write your heart out. Write at midnight. Write outside. Write listening to music (or not listening to musci) or drinking coffee (or not drinking coffee). Write what you’d like to read and have fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong, because trust me, writing is the easiest part of publishing a novel! Cheers 🙂

As they passed through the great doors, the chill of the rift made the hair on Jæyd’s arm stand on end, and the flute in her hand burned hotter, warming her flesh. Luca frowned and even Timo looked put out. The halls were silent and dusty.
“I have taken up residence in the East Wing,” Jæyd told them. “It is more intact than the rest.”
They nodded, glancing around at the tomblike interior, the air thick and pressing.
“How is the library?” Cedar asked suddenly.
Jæyd grimaced. “Only a little better than the Garden. Last I checked, the roof had caved in at the back, and the glass in the windows blew out. The elements have not been kind to the books. I am sorry.”
Cedar was disheartened by the news. The last project he had been working on before he was called away was the restoration of the grand library. Luca slapped him on the shoulder.
“I’m sorry too, but I am not as gullible as Chesco was, so I won’t be helping you haul those book about,” he told Cedar. “But I think the exercise will be good for you.”
He walked on ahead, ascending the stair with light steps, throwing open the double doors to the East Wing. The others crowded close behind him. Jæyd noted that he still smelled like peaches. The long passage was dim, the only light coming from tiny slits up close to the ceiling. Silver motes floated on paths of light.
“I think it would be more fitting to move to the Guardians’ Hall,” Cedar said, his face wistful and eager.
“That place is not so hospitable,” Jæyd warned. “And it holds bad memories.”
“Then let us air it out with good ones,” Timo’s deep voice chimed in from behind. “We should not delay in returning the Torch.”
“Very well,” Jæyd acquiesced, but for a reason unknown to her a heavy feeling settled in the pit of her stomach.
Her feet followed a path she did not recognize. The passages and stairways of the Crescent Temple had minds of their own sometimes. Jæyd never did remember coming this way, though she knew that she had been within the Guardians’ Hall many times. The way was unfamiliar but that did not matter. The Temple wanted her to find the way to the Guardians’ Hall, and so it took her there.
They crowded into the vast room through the narrow passage. When she stepped into the Guardians’ Hall and gazed at it stretching out in all directions, the breath caught in Jæyd’s throat. The walls and floor were blackened with Demon soot. Two sets of footprints were still in the dust on the floor from when Jæyd and Luca had come through here before going to meet Cedar in D’Ohera, lonely signs of life in a dead world. The columns were silent guardians in their own right.
“It’s so large,” S’Aris said, her head tilted back as she gazed at the ceiling. “In the writings at the Coven, it describes the Hall, but I’d never imagined it was so big.”
“Writings?” Jæyd inquired.
“Letters and such from V’Ronica,” the Witch explained. “And the journal she kept. The First Guardian sent it back with her effects, after she died.”
A moment of silence met her words as the Hall remembered the Witch V’Ronica and her deeds. Whispers of her voice flitted through the air, ghosts of her form danced among the shadows. Memories that were as tangible as the stone the Hall was built of passed through their minds, foreign and lonesome. The Guardians were accustomed to this, but the others were disquieted.
“Where did the Torch stand?” Berria asked, her voice strained.

______________________________________________________

Look for Omens and more awesome books published by Witching Hour Publishing, available now and available soon (as in, tomorrow!).

❤ ❤ Dragonbeck

Omens teaser IV – Jailbreak

The Guardians of the Path Omens, published by Witching Hour Publishing, is to be released on 23 November 2016.

As that’s only 4 days away…here’s the fourth little teaser.

Write-tip: a little humor in the diaolgue gives it an authentic feel. People tease and joke all the time, sometimes even in serious situations or other times when they shouldn’t, to relieve tension or to make out like they’re not scared when they are, but if you’re not writing a comedy, don’t over do it!

The Prisons of Balmar were smaller and cleaner than those of D’Ohera, but no less crowded. The Guardians were put into a general cell, a large, square space with a dirt floor. Their fellow inmates were in every condition, in fresh pressed tunics to grubby rags. Most of them were Old Races. Cedar’s heart went out to them as he wandered back and forth, kicking fruitlessly at the ground. After hours, he finally stopped. An hour later, he started pacing again.
“How long do you suppose we’re to wait?” Berria asked.
“You’ve never been in prison, have you?” Luca said, leaning against the bars, his arms crossed.
“Actually, I have,” Berria replied. “Thrice.”
“Well…” Luca began, and couldn’t think of a comeback. “Okay.”
“The answer to your question is as long as the Justice prefers,” Timo said. “Unfortunately we are at his mercy.”
“There are laws against indefinite detainment,” Jæyd said. “The Justice cannot rewrite the laws.”
“Of course he can,” Luca chirped. “What are we going to do about it?”
“What are we going to do about it?” Cedar said, spinning to face them, a fierce gleam in his eyes. “We can’t just wait here to rot.”
“They took our instruments and we’ve all tried to force the lock,” Luca said. “I even tried my lock pick, which should have worked. I think it’s something new the Scholars have rigged up.”
“Why do you have a lock pick?” S’Aris asked, her blue eyes wide with surprise.
“Everyone needs a lock pick,” Luca replied with a wink. “Unfortunately it’s not doing anything for me right now.”
“Guardians?”
Cedar, Luca, Jæyd and Timo flew to the bars. A goblin stood on the other side, a patch over one eye, half-breeches and leather vest stained orange. His white hair was pulled into a ponytail which hung in front of his pointed ear. A gold hoop glinted in the other.
“Who are you?” Jæyd asked.
The goblin bowed an overly elaborate bow. “Elan, at your service.”
“Odd name for a goblin,” Luca remarked.
“I can leave if you’d prefer to wait for someone with a more acceptable name,” Elan said and held up a shiny key. “Or I could let you out.”
“Let us out!” Cedar said immediately and a chorus of agreement came from behind him.
The goblin teased them for just a moment before obliging, holding the door open until all the prisoners had come out then locked it securely behind them. He noticed Luca staring at him with envious eyes. Elan chuckled and tucked the key into his vest.
“When you can get a Thaumaturgist and a Scholar to sit at the same table, they can make some wonderful magyc,” he said.
“Where can I get one of those?” Luca asked.
“What would a Guardian need with a Master Key?” Elan said.
“He might need it if he was stuck in a cell he couldn’t get out of,” Luca replied.
Elan grinned. “Perhaps we could talk later. But now, there is someone who wants to see you. Come with me.”

__________________________________________________________

Look for Omens and other great books by Witching Hour Publishing available now and coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

Omen teaser III – The Necrolatry

(Necrolatry: worship of the dead, Late Greek nekrolatreia, from Greek nekr-necr- + -latreia -latry; or the case of Guardians of the Path: the church devoted to Death and His work.)

The Guardians of the Path Omens, published by Witching Hour Publishing, is to be released on 23 November 2016.

Here’s the third excerpt from the third book of the series (Tesla would be happy).

Dividing a story into chapters can be a tricky part of writing. Is the chapter just part of a scene, a teaser so to speak? Does a full sequence with a beginning, a middle, and an end take place?

A guide-line I like to use for ending a chapter is don’t leave off at a stopping point. When the character falls asleep, or sits down to wait, or ends a conversation where they learn something they need to is not a good place to end, because it invites the reader to put down the book. They have some measure of satisfaction, and you want to leave them wanting more (i.e., a “page turner”) with a cliff-hanger. Some ways to do this could be having the protagonist round a corner and come face to face with something, have someone find something and then it does something unexpected, or what happens at the end of this excerpt, which is incidentally the end of a chapter of Omens:

Strong hands grabbed Ria’s arms and hauled her to her feet. A moment later the four of them were running across the courtyard and through the black doors that opened from within, spreading like arms to welcome them with an emotionless embrace. A thick carpet underfoot swallowed their footsteps, leaving them in silence as they hurried from the door.
Cold air raised the hair on Ria’s skin when the door swung shut with a click behind them. Inside, the air was crystal clear and made her eyes sting. Despite the lack of visible lighting, Ria could see with perfect clarity. A smell slithered into Ria with every breath, the smell of emptiness and silence which filled her head with space and an odd ringing.
Windows of black glass towered over them on either side, folding into each other, the facets of a liquid diamond. High above them Ria assumed there must be a ceiling of some sort though it was lost in the darkness. A Mark – a circle, one half black, the other half white – was seared onto every visible surface, carved into the end of the wooden pews, welded in the filigree over the windows.
“What’s that?” Ria asked.
“That is Death’s Mark,” Juff said, averting her eyes from the symbol on the wall.
Ria stared at it. The Guardian Luca Lorisson had explained to her briefly about the Prophecy of Aethsiths and Her Mark. This Mark was not a true Mark, she decided after a moment of thoughtful examination. A true Mark was written by its owner with the intent to write it, and that could be felt as easily as the Mark could be seen; Ria felt nothing from the Mark, no tingle of magyc, no undercurrent of golden music. It was a lie.
“Why do they put it everywhere?” she wondered aloud, her eyes sliding from the drapes framing the windows to the low benches cloaked in the shadows that clung to the walls, to the black columns at the side of the massive room.
“I don’t know,” Juff said, and gave her a frown. “Don’t speak so loudly.”
The door behind them opened, sending light chasing after the shadows. The nymphs froze, incandescent eyes wide.
“Here!” Juff said and gave them a shove towards a long black table draped with folds of shimmery cloth that appeared before them as though it had just been set down by a giant hand. A wreath of metal barbs as big as a swimming pool fashioned into Death’s Mark hung on the wall behind it.
They scurried behind the table. Ria peeked around and saw the blood-red uniforms outlined in sunlight. The Streetwardens hesitated outside, shifting and looking back and forth. Two black-robed figures appeared from within the Necrolatry, gliding towards the Streetwardens, who backed away. When the doors closed the figures disappeared into the darkness as if they had not even been there.
Ria’s breath caught in her throat when they reappeared in front of their hiding spot. Shaved heads and skin so pale it glowed made the figures seem insubstantial, like projections of light. Juff looked at Ria with wide eyes and the nymphs huddled together for support. Ria scooted over and peered around the folds of cloth.
The black figures conferred softly with their backs to Ria, gesturing at the door and the table. Ria ducked back as the nearest figure turned to look at the table. Moments of tense silence marched by to the erratic beating of Ria’s heart. Her senses would have her believe that the figures had gone away, that there was no one there, but Ria knew better.
A coldness pressed on her, squeezing tighter and tighter as she imagined the black robed figures stepping closer on silent feet. Ria turned her head very slightly to the left, saw Juff wide-eyed with fear, the two nymphs clutching each other and seeming to shrink in size as Ria watched.
None of them could do anything, they were trapped behind the altar. They would be discovered and the stark fear in Juff’s eyes was not giving any comforting ideas as to their fate. Ria had to do something before they were all discovered.
She could think of only one thing to do.

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Doesn’t that make you want to find out what she does? 😉

Look for Omens and other great books published by Witching Hour Publishing coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

Omens teaser II – Destiny

The Guardians of the Path Omens, published by Witching Hour Publishing, is to be released on 23 November 2016.

When you write a story, any story, whether it’s a short story, a novelette, or a ten-part series, ask yourself “Why would some one read this story?”

And why would they?

If you’re writing non-fiction, what the reader gets out of it is easy to see. They learn something (hopefully): the tactics used to win such-and-such battle in such-and-such a war, how to bake cookies that are chewy on the inside yet crisp on the outside, the technique for juggling flaming swords, etc.

If you’re writing a work of fiction or fantasy, the reader also wants to get something out of it. They are not going to invest the time in reading if they don’t feel there’s a prize at the end. You have to pull them through the story, from the past, through the present, to the future, with the promise of this prize, this satisfaction, this resolution.

This is the second excerpt from Omens. Here we have something of the past happening in the present, and hinting at the future, embodied in the form of destiny.

Three things lay before the Desert Man, innocent at first glance, but something much more on closer inspection. They drew his eyes and fixed his attention with a subtle yet unmistakable power. One was a pen of yellowed bone, point sharp enough to break skin and stained a rusty brown. Devoid of embellishment to the point of plainness, the bone yet had personality. A tiny sliver of white gem graced the pen just below the nib.
The second was a handle-less cup of a hard wood Dymitri had never seen before. It too was plain, but the light danced off the wood in strange ways, tricking the eyes into seeing shapes that wasn’t really there. Or were they? It was ice cold to the touch. Set into the wood was a dark blue gem.
The third was a beautiful feather of dark green, blue and purple. It was warm as the cup was cold, and soft as silk.
“That is an Emerald Phoenix feather. They are quite common, though often mistaken for peacocks,” Teled said. “It is used in healing potions.”
The fact that he did not offer an explanation for the other two did not escape Dymitri. He knew Teled was waiting for him to ask what they were. He also knew if he did that, it would change his entire life in a way that would be difficult to qualify with words. Destiny whispered to him, asking him to dance though he could not hear the music.

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Look for Omens and other great books from Witching Hour Publishing coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

Unleashing the Words

For the record: I don’t believe in writer’s block.

I do believe sometimes it takes more effort to get the words on paper (or screen), but this six sided, three-dimensional bogey man that plagues writers from under the bed or in the plumbing or wherever it hides? No, I don’t believe in that.

But most people would argue that whatever you call the manifestation known as “writer’s block”, or whether you believe in it or not,  is irrelevant. It exists, and it’s a real problem.

When I feel a little stuck or stultified (a brilliant word meaning: cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine), I draw.

More specifically: I draw maps. Without a clear picture in my noggin of where the story is taking place, the words get flat and shallow. More importantly, they become sluggish, and this is not good.

Currently, I’m working on the first draft of book five of the Guardians of the Path series, taking off to a new region of my world, and I was having trouble getting the words to flow as opposed to merely trickle. So I sat down and worked out a simple schematic of where the story was taking place. This may not be “simple” for some, but quite a bit of time was spent browsing the interweb, looking at pictures (also a good method of invoking the gods of inspiration) of European cathedrals and prestigious English college campuses, buildings which were reduced to squares on my diagram.

I give you: the Coven of White and Black –

img_20161001_135744

This probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone at this precise moment, but take my word for it, it’s awesome!! And yes, Laboratorium is now a word.

And away we go!

Just a little something for you to try if you get particularity desperate 🙂

Good writing!

❤ DragonBeck