Just Toppam

Here’s a three-in-one post of my writing exercises from the last meeting. Technically we only did two exercises, but both Brandon and I did continuations, so we got a third set of words for an extra-special story. Here’s mine – enjoy!

Turkey, messy (my word), narrow,

He walked down the narrow alley, the dead turkey swinging at his side. They
would eat well tonight, better than they had all winter. The dead bird was
scrawny, and had not been plucked, so it would be a messy preparation, but still
his mouth watered at the thought of hot, roast meat. His stomach gave an
answering grumble. Shadows moving behind him pulled him from his lovely fantasy,
and he groped for the rusty knife in his belt. He turned to look, but the alley
was empty. After a moment spent searching the darkness, he convinced himself
that he had been imagining things. He shrugged and turned to continue home. He
ran into the tall man standing in front of him, swinging the silver topped cane
with a smile that bared pointed teeth.

marked, butterscotch, grime,

“Who are you?” Tim stammered, clutching the turkey to his breast as if it would
protect him.
The second man smiled wider. “My name is Toppam.” The man bowed and touched his
Tim started. No one had ever bowed to him.
“And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?” The man had a pleasant smell
reminiscent of butterscotch hanging around him, and his fine clothes seemed to
repel the grime of the dirty alley they were standing in.
“My name is Tim. Tim Calloway,” Tim nodded, and raised his hand to his forehead
though he had no hat to tip.
“Mr. Calloway, it is an honor to make your acquaintance,” Toppam said. “Would
you walk with me this evening?”
Tim didn’t think he had a choice, so he nodded and fell into step beside the
tall, sinister man.
“You are probably wondering why I came to seek you out,” Toppam continued in the
same dignified voice that hinted at a private joke.
Tim nodded. “Yes, Mr. Toppam, sir, the thought has crossed my mind.”
“No, it’s just Toppam,” the man corrected, flashing pointed teeth again. “And it
is a simple enough answer Mr. Calloway. You’re a marked man, sir, a man marked
for greatness, if you would only allow me to assist you in that endeavor.”
Zone, ghastly, tickle,

Tim swallowed. “I don’t know about that Mr. Toppam, sir,” he said, forgetting
that the man wished to be called simply Toppam. “I’ve never done anything great
in my life.”
The tall man threw his head back and laughed, then turned and patted Tim kindly
on the shoulder. “You are such curious little creatures,” Toppam murmured, more
to himself than to Tim. “Such potential, and yet so shortsighted and
narrow-minded at the same time.”
Tim gave a nervous cough, and distanced himself by two paces from the
frightening man. “Mr. Toppam, sir-”
“Just Toppam, if you please, Mr. Calloway,” Toppam smiled, this time his lips
pressed closed.
A tickle of unease rippled down Tim’s spine, and the fact that the man insisted
on calling him Mr. Calloway made him more uncomfortable still.
“Toppam, if it please you, sir,” Tim continued, pushing past the lump in his
throat. “If it’s all the same to you, I just want to go home to my family.
They’re hungry, sir, and waiting for me to bring them supper.”
“Unfortunately, it’s not the same to me, not at all.” Toppam gazed at the sky, a
ghastly expression on his face, one of age-old suffering, then he twirled his
cane once more, and the expression was gone. “That is a fine bird. Tell me, how
did you come by it?”
“Won it in a game of cards, fair and square, Toppam, sir,” Tim said, lifting his
Toppam chuckled. “If it makes you happy to think so.” Toppam snapped his
fingers, and the turkey vanished.
Tim let out an unmanly scream, and stumbled back against the wall, quaking as
Toppam stepped towards him, reaching into his jacket.
“Please don’t,” Tim pleaded.
Toppam grimaced. “I’m not going to hurt you.” He withdrew a small square of
paper. “Have you ever seen this woman?”
Tim squinted at the picture of a girl with blond curls and dark eyes for a long
time, just to be sure. “No, sir.”
A sigh escaped Toppam’s lips, and he looked relieved, the darkness leaving his
face and his eyes lighting. “There may be time yet,” Toppam said.


❤ DragonBeck


The Ribbon

There’s nothing like a little mystery to hook the reader and draw them in….

leaving, broad, ribbon,

The ribbon had been a present from her mother, given on the day of her first
leaving, so many years ago it was lost in the fog of the past that shifted and
evaporated in her decaying mind. “Grandmother?” a gentle voice asked, and her
eyes focused on the bright face in front of her, pretty, with blond curls and
bright greens eyes. Something stirred in the fog, but it was so hard to
“Grandmother, can you hear me?”
The girl was probably seventeen, just younger than she had been when she had
gone through the ceremony and the terrible ordeal that followed. Or was it an
ordeal that had been followed by a ceremony? The memories were getting more and
more mixed up now. She looked down, and focused again on the faded satin ribbon,
the gold thread shining weakly against the burgundy cloth.
This ribbon had kept her safe. That much she was certain of, and she was also
certain that the girl in front of her had to have it, for a reason she couldn’t
explain, just that she felt in the depths of her ancient bones. She held it out
to the girl in a trembling hand, and gave a sigh of satisfaction when she saw it
in her hand, somehow broader than she remembered against the girl’s slim wrist
and dainty fingers.
“Grandmother, what is this for?”
But Fate dictated that she would never answer that question, as her final breath
slipped from her lips and she sank into the whiteness.


❤ DragonBeck

Bug Crisis

Erika said this wouldn’t end well. What do you think?

busy (my word), crisis, bug,

Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, the bug showed up. It was a
hideous things with too many legs, mandibles that clicked with a hungry sort of
questioning repetition, and glossy wings that rustled against its back. It was
also the size of a cat. Kella had been busy trying to avert the crisis brewing
in her cauldron, but now she was on the table, her heart hammering in her chest
as she watched the monstrosity crawl through her kitchen, praying to the gods
that it couldn’t climb the furniture.
Out of the corner of her eye, the witch noticed the purple froth begin to flow
more energetically over the rim of her cauldron, pooling on the the kitchen
floor like luminescent fog in the wee hours of the morning. The flames
spluttered, but clung stubbornly to life, which made the purple mist pour out
faster and faster, and soon the floor disappeared under it. Kella could still
tell where the giant insect was, by the way the mist moved, and the pair of
antennae that hovered above the blanket of mist, but then even those were

❤ DragonBeck

Shadow Road – A Stories My Friends Started

I haven’t done one of these for a while, so I thought I should remedy that. This is the first SMFS that I ever wrote, and it’s still one of my favorites 🙂 For Shaina Clark. May you find reasons to smile abound.

Although he had spent every day of his childhood being pampered and spoiled to within an inch of his life, he was still one of the most melancholic individuals his associates had ever encountered.

No, Judianna thought, not pampered. Groomed. Yes, groomed from before he could walk. Though Mage Doneron had told her to study all faces present, Judianna could not help but watch golden-haired Prince Quiteas brood at one corner of the triangular table.

It had been a long time since she had seen him this close and he did not remember her face. Quiteas sat ramrod straight yet still seemed to slump in the angular chair with a veiled expression and pale eyes that missed nothing and gave away less. The prince was not dissimilar in physical appearance to the boy Judianna had known so many years ago, but other than that, he was a different person.

The armored bulk that was General Armareus occupied the second corner. The silver-robed stick figure of High Mage Doneron sat at the third. Judianna was a fourth of the Mage’s retinue. The General had a full dozen men with him, but only four were allowed at the table. Quiteas had one accompanying him, a slim figure bowed beneath a hooded robe. As such, his corner of the table looked somewhat desolate.

“Your majesty,” Doneron the Mage said, his voice smoothed by eons of chanting spells. “You cannot wait any longer. A decision must be made.”

“And I say you make it,” Quiteas said. Judianna didn’t believe it possible, but his mouth turned down even further. “It means nothing to me.”

The General cleared his throat. Had Quiteas been an underling, Judianna had no doubt the General’s meaty fist would have been around his throat by now. As it was, the General merely raised his hand in a conciliatory gesture.

“My prince,” he began. “The man who is chosen to take the place of the late Lord Sardaen must be someone trustworthy. The new Lord inherits all of the Harmand Way. I should not need to remind you that the Way is a very strategic point and the surrounding lands very productive.”

“I know my history,” Quiteas sighed a world weary sigh. “And I trust the both of you to choose wisely.”

“Traditionally, it has been the monarch who…” Mage Doneron began.

Quiteas silenced him by rising. The shadow by his side rose as well. Judianna kept her head down, though her eyes remained fixed on the prince. “Traditions come and go. You make your choice and I will speak the words if it will make you happy.”

“I don’t think your father would be happy to hear his son make a mime of the throne,” General Armareus.

“If my father has a problem with my ruling, I look forward to hearing from him in person.”

Prince Quiteas left the Council room frozen and fragile in the wake of his parting statement.

“It’s just as well you didn’t bring up his coronation again,” Armareus said with a glance at the empty chair.

Doneron poked at his face with long fingers as though to iron out the lines in his skin. “I wish the boy would just accept his father’s demise, come to terms with it and move on. He cannot be prince forever.”

“He is a stubborn boy,” the Armareus said, his armor creaking as he stood. “Give him time.”

“It has been a full seven years,” Doneron said, exasperation leaking from every syllable. “I do not know how to make him understand that when one travels the Shadow Road, they do not return and not even a Mage can make it so.”

“He will not give up on the King,” Armareus said, his men falling into place behind him. “It may be us who will be made to understand that we will be calling him ‘prince’ until he follows his father’s steps on the Shadow Road.”

Mage Doneron grunted in reply and it was long moments before he rose. Judianna rose with him and took up the rear of his procession, folding her hands serenely across her chest. Her lilac robe trailed long behind her, as did the robes of those in front of her. In this way, they were always evenly spaced as they walked. They traipsed along, their footsteps lost in majestic halls where only Mage Doneron seemed at ease among the towering columns and gilded glass windows.

As they strode from patterned tiles to snow white marble marked only by the shadow of statues, a messenger hurried up to Doneron and the entire procession halted. Hurried words were exchanged and the Mage nodded. The messenger disappeared and Doneron beckoned Judianna forward. He pulled a dark bottle from his robes and handed it to her.

“I had meant to give this to Prince Quiteas, but it slipped my mind. Please deliver it forthwith.”

Judianna nodded and took the bottle. Despite having learned the castle passages from schematics until she could walk them blindfolded, she had never actually trespassed within the prince’s personal wing. A nervous flutter made her stomach clench. She stood without the huge pair of black doors and knocked.

A moment later the left door opened and the robed figure that had shadowed the prince stood on the other side. The hood had fallen back to reveal a pale face, soft brown hair and pointed ears. Forest green eyes flecked with gold appraised Judianna and a slim hand came out to silently request the bottle.

Judianna gave the elf the bottle, bowed her head and turned away as the door closed. She had barely started down the hall when the door was thrown open and the prince’s voice yelled at her, gloomy even in wrath.

“Mage, what is the meaning of…oh, I beg your pardon. I thought you were Doneron.”

“He sent me in his stead,” Judianna said, bowing her head. “Is something amiss?”

“Yes!” Quiteas said, waving the bottle. “This is not what I asked for.”

“I’m sorry,” Judianna said, reaching for the bottle. “I will return it…”

“No,” Quiteas sighed. “No, that will not do.”

Judianna stood silent, puzzled by his vacillations. The prince deigned to explain himself, for what reason Judianna couldn’t say.

“I have had increasing trouble sleeping of late, and I asked the Mage for a draught to ease my nerves. This…this is milk and honey. I used to drink it as a boy,” Quiteas said. “I wager it is his way of rebuking me. Tell me, do you think he is right to tell me to accept that my father is forever gone down the Shadow Road?”

The question threw Judianna further off guard and she stammered. “I…I think the High Mage is very wise and has your wellbeing at heart, your Majesty.”

“That is not an answer,” the prince leaned against the wall, sad eyes studying her. “I saw you in the Council room, attending Doneron. You were almost as watchful as he. You seem familiar. I think perhaps I might have known you, a long time ago.”

Judianna contemplated how to answer the unasked question. She chose the forthright response. “As children we played in the halls whenever you could get away from hawking or divination, your least favorite lessons.”

“Judianna!” Recognition dawned in the prince’s eyes, and his frown lifted a little though he did not smile. “I thought you had left the palace some time past.”

“It was judged I had some magical potential. Doneron took me to apprentice,” Judianna said. “I have been here, but keeping to corners and shadows.”

“Doneron is teaching you to see and not be seen. I remember those lessons.”

“I find it quite useful. Observing is the easiest way to learn things,” Judianna said with a smile. “Words and eyes may lie, but actions cannot be other than what they are.”

“Indeed,” Quiteas said. “Doneron’s pupil to the heart. Come. Join me and tell me of what has transpired since we last spoke.”

He held open the door to his suite. Judianna drifted inside. Her eyes immediately went to the figure standing at the window. The elf had discarded the cloak and wore deep green satin trousers and tunic. Quiteas nodded in his direction.

“This is Masatri. He was bound to my father by some ancient, forgotten pact and he, like everyone else, assumes that he is now bound to me. No matter how I try to dissuade him, he insists on following me everywhere.”

The elf bowed, bronze highlights gleaming in his hair. “Men are strange creatures with short lives and shorter memories, but this pact is not something to take lightly despite His majesty’s obvious discomfit.”

“Don’t mind him. He is very sociable though he doesn’t say much. Come, sit.”

Quiteas gestured toward the sitting-place under a spread of windows. Outside the sky was grey and a stiff wind pulled at the trees, sending showers of leaves swirling about like dervishes. The three sat on cushioned lounges. Masatri brought iced lemon water, candied fruit and spicy biscuits. Quiteas ate with dainty, solemn bites. The elf filled a plate and ate with gusto. Judianna nibbled on a biscuit and spoke between bites.

“I learned history, language, simple sorcery and enchantment. Now, I’m learning the finer points of diplomacy and intrigue in preparation for accompanying Doneron to the courts of Glorina, Holvard, Athmar, Yoland and Itread to learn their dispositions and intentions to this kingdom.”

“No doubt you will do wonderfully and come back to lecture me on international politics as Doneron does.” Quiteas could have been making a joke but his dolorous expression did not change.

“No, I think he enjoys that too much to delegate that task,” Judianna said.

“Truer words were never spoken,” Quiteas said, rubbing his chin and gazing at nothing with his pale eyes.

It would be easier to judge what a painting was thinking than what thoughts lay behind the prince’s triste expression. Judianna thought that he might be handsome if he smiled and let the light touch his eyes. “Why do I never see you smile anymore, Prince Quiteas?”

“Perhaps you are not looking hard enough.”

“I do not think that is the reason, for your entire court would be as unobservant as I.” Judianna paused. “And yet, I recall you were quite gay as a boy.”

“Children have the freedom to be carefree,” Quiteas said. “Then they must grow up and become accustomed to reality.”

“Your kingdom prospers, your people want for little, your General grows fat for lack of war and your Mage has nothing to do but brew sleeping potions and fret about court invitations from foreign royalty yet this reality calls for such a dour outlook? What, I wonder, will your outlook be in times of strife, famine or war?”

“It is knowledge that strife, famine and war could come upon us at any moment that restrains my lightheartedness. It is not an easy thing to forget that even when the sun is shining, a hundred storms may be brewing beyond the horizon.”

“Yes, I do not think I would smile if I was always worrying about storms beyond the horizon,” Judianna said. “That, or I would learn to love the rain.”

“You already love the rain. Thunder and lightning as well, if I recall correctly.”

“You do,” Judianna said.

As she spoke a slow peal of far-off thunder reverberated. Quiteas looked up, then stood and threw open the windows. Wind whipped the curtains into dancing ghosts of lace and the smell of rain flooded the room. Judianna stood and walked to stand next to him.

“The gods heard us,” she said, her voice soft as she watched lightning flash across the clouds.

“I doubt the gods pay attention to anything I say,” Quiteas said, the light making planes and hollows of his face.

“Would your father wish you to be this miserable because of him?” Judianna asked softly.

“He came back,” Quiteas said, pointing at Masatri. “The elf left with my father, and came back without him. When I ask him if my father is dead, he gives the same answer.”

“He walks the Shadow Road,” Masatri whispered behind Judianna, making her jump.

“He pretends bondage to me, but obeys very little of what I say. He would not leave my father but for death or command. He will not say my father is dead. He cannot lie, so he was told to say that. If my father were truly dead, his allegiance would shift to me and I could make him tell me what happened. But I only hear about the Shadow Road. Until I hear differently, I await my father’s return.”

Judianna knew a little regarding the forest folk and could not fault the prince’s logic, but still, to be unhappy until such a time came…“You must cheer up, Quiteas. Surely there must be something you can smile about.”

“One day, when there is a good reason to smile, I shall do so.”

“And what would be a good reason to smile?” Judianna probed.

Quiteas turned away from her but for once she could see his thoughts plain as day. My father returning.

“You should not pick so lofty a reason to smile,” Judianna said. “Reasons abound all around, and if they are not apparent to you, then you can always make one up. You are the prince, after all.”

Quiteas looked at her for a long time. “You have not changed at all.”

Judianna shrugged. “I suppose I did not become accustomed to reality.”

“No I suppose not.” Quiteas paused. “I have kept you long enough. Doneron will be looking for your return. You must come and visit me more often. I will ask Doneron to send you.” Judianna thought she may have imagined it, but very slowly one corner of his mouth turned up. “That will vex him, I think.”

“He does not enjoy being vexed,” Judianna said, thinking of the Mage’s wish that the prince take up his father’s crown and Quiteas’ refusal.

“No, but he can be quite entertaining.”

Judianna smiled and bowed, making her exit.


Judianna paused in the doorway.

“And please tell him: I choose Tamburn to be the next Lord Sardaen. Tamburn is a good man. He traveled with my father when he was younger and has kept the Donner Way faithfully.”

“I will tell the Mage. I’m sure he will be pleased to hear your Majesty’s decision.”

Judianna left still imagining the ghost of a smile on Prince Quiteas’ lips.


If you’d like to start a story (and help a writer out at the same time), please go to storiesmyfriendsstarted.com and leave a sentence for us!

❤ DragonBeck

Meet The Authors

Hello everyone – happy Friday!

The Ink Slingers Guild are officially at Tampa Bay Megacon this weekend – we have a table in Artist Alley, and lots of fantastic books for you!!!

Let’s take a moment to get acquainted, shall we?

Lisa Barry:

“Writing and reading every minute she can, Lisa counts on her cats to keep her keyboard warm and on the countless gargoyles who stand guard throughout her house to ensure the safety of all those who enter with good intent. The gargoyles, even more importantly, listen carefully when Lisa reads to them aloud.

On a person note…besides having a deep admiration of gargoyles (who says they’re not real?), I love to read and write.  I collect gargoyles, I love music and can be heard driving up before I am seen, I’m a very picky eater (just ask my friends -eyes rolling-), I enjoy fishing and will catch them, clean them, cook them but won’t eat them or anything else out of the ocean.  I also believe in many fairy tale creatures, just haven’t knowingly met any yet.”

And she has a really cool tattoo.

  and coming soon…

Dalia Lance:

Dalia says “I have had a very interesting upbringing starting with growing up in Hollywood, CA. Never shy, I learned that if you are not willing to try something new you may let life simply pass you by. I love meeting people from all walks of life and these experiences inspire me on a daily basis. As a true friend once pointed out “You are never a complete waste, you can always be used as a bad example”. So what’s the worst that can happen?”


J. M. Pacquete:

JM Paquette writes cheesy vampire romance novels filled with action, adventure, intrigue, and sometimes slightly steamy sex scenes. She enjoys alliteration and puns of all kinds.


Alanna J. Rubin:

Miss Rubin says “I’m originally from Massachusetts. As a northerner, I never missed an opportunity to pick apples, carve pumpkins, or visit Salem to see the witches and haunted happenings. Now that I’m in Florida, not a day goes by when I don’t miss the changing colors of leaves, but I would never go back to having to shovel snow. As a fan of science fiction, paranormal, and romance…I find that individually they are fun,  however, I love them more when they’re mashed together. Often, when I am not writing my next adventure you’ll find me torn between watching a Jane Austen adaptation or hopping on the Tardis for an adventure in time and space.”


And yours truly, Nicole Dragonbeck:

I was born on the first day of a year-long eclipse of the sun, the thirteenth child of the Prince of Elves and an enchantress. As a small child I fell into a poisoned well and was horribly transformed by the toxic sludge seething in the deep darkness. I was fished out by a band of gypsies, who promised to feed and clothe me if I cooked and cleaned for them. They taught me to ride bareback and read palms, but I royally pissed off the leader by setting his wagon on fire and he cursed me with a great imagination and an equally great inability to tell the truth…and the rest is history.


I hope to see you at Megacon this weekend and get the chance to meet you in person!

❤ DragonBeck (and friends)




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
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
“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.”


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

Announcement: Ink Slingers Guild At Tampa Bay Megacon

Hello all!


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

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


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

Held at:

333 S. Franklin Street
Tampa, FL 33602

Ticket information can be found here.

Visit megacontampabay.com for more information.

Nerd on!

❤ DragonBeck

The Wizard’s Library

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

hate, dissension (my word), leather,

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

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

❤ DragonBeck

Guardians of the Path: Book IV The Other World – Available Now

I am very happy to announce that Guardians of the Path Book IV The Other World is now available for purchase!

Haunted by Riddles and Dreams

Here: In Demona, the Guardians go to the Dale, a place of old magyc locked away in the past, hoping to find the Man of Tongues, a sorcerer of myth who they believe may have the power to send them across worlds. They get more than they bargain for, learn more than they ask for, and in the end, they must make a terrible choice: Aethsiths, or Ria?

There: In the Other World, Maria Westerfield’s past comes back to haunt her when one of her friends is murdered and a mysterious symbol she never thought she’d see again appears written in his blood. The Girl Who Came Back must figure out what to do before everyone she loves is destroyed by the things she thought only existed in dreams.

Everywhere: All those who wield magyc are drawn together to battle Demons, Wardens, and their own dark secrets to keep the Placer of Pieces and his Men in White from extinguishing the light of life called the Path. Assassins, Witches, princesses, Makers of Marks and even Death Himself all attempt to divert the fate of this world, but everything hangs on the choice of one girl in…

…The Other World.

I cordially invite you to step through the door and continue the adventure in the other world! And I’d appreciate it greatly if you’d take a few moments to please leave me a review and let me know what you think!

❤ ❤ ❤ DragonBeck



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