reading

Needful Things meets Rumpelstiltskin

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

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

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

❤ DragonBeck

Advertisements

Just a Feeling

Hello all!

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

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

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

 

❤ DragonBeck

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.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck

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

Greetings beautiful people!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationship, shun, gun, practice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you really?” Rissa asked at last.

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

❤ DragonBeck

Round Robin Stories

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

Bite-Sized Reading

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

Sugar (my word), incongruous, plague,

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

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

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

If you’re looking for more free reading, check out Stories My Friends Started – super cool short stories started with a line from a friend. You can give us a story starter here!

❤ DragonBeck

Silent Stranger

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

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

___________________________________________________________________________________

More coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

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.”

______________________________________________________________________________

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 Wizard’s Eye

Hello world!

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

Shadow, white, sunset

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

“We should break camp now.”

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

“This way,” the wizard said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s not true,” Jaden said.

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

Jaden took a step back, and the figure smiled.

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

Jaden stared at him, pressing his lips together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

❤ DragonBeck

The Man With The Wolf

I have innumerable excuse as to why this is posted over a month later than it was written. I’m not going to list them here because I can already feel the eye-rolls being directed at me. Instead, I will just say that I hope you enjoy this collection of Ink Slingers Guild writing exercises that form a neat little continuation:

blow, infatuated, streak,

Ever since she could remember, she had been infatuated with the stars. She would
sit for hours just watching the skies, with the glittering diamonds streaking
and falling. And then one day they were just gone. All of them. She went out
every night and waited for their brilliance to return, but all she had for
company was the chill wind blowing through an empty sky. The others were scared,
and set alight huge pyres to appease the gods, but the stars did not return. She
was not scared, but she was sad to lose her sparkling friends. For a long time,
she wondered where they had gone, and continued her nightly ritual though it was
a cold and lonely time without the stars. After a while, she no longer went out
every night, and then not every week. Finally, she no longer noticed the flat
black sky that was left when the sun disappeared behind the horizon, and her
childhood wonder never entered her thoughts. That all changed when the man with
the silver eyes arrived in the town, at his side a massive wolf.
__________________________________________________________________________
candle, black, wax

She made her way down to the tavern. The streets were rapidly emptying as
everyone scurried to their homes. She adjusted the basket of bread on her
shoulder, and went through the wide doors. Warm golden light and the smell of
ale greeted her, and she relaxed. Walking up to the counter, it was several
moments before she realized someone was watching her. It was several more before
she found him, sitting in the darkest corner, his eyes glittering like gems. A
single candle flickered in front of him, the wax oozing down the sides. She was
disconcerted when she saw it writing and looping on itself to form the likeness
of a beautiful flowering vine. “Do you like my work?” a voice issued from the
shadows. She averted her eyes, and dropped into a shallow curtsy more as a
reaction rather than a gesture of any respect. “I’m sure I don’t know what you
mean, sir,” she murmured, and though she was no longer looking in his direction,
she could plainly see the wax dripping into a perfectly normal puddle in the
saucer. “I’m sure you don’t,” the voice agreed. She turned to continue to the
bar to drop off the bread for dinner, and found herself confronted with a
massive black wolf, its golden eyes level with hers and a pink tongue lolling
from its mouth.
_________________________________________________________________________
telescope, stickler, beard

She swallowed, and edged to the side. The wolf’s eyes followed her, and when she
had almost made it around the the chair, when the wolf backed around and cut her
off. “Can you call him away?” she called to the man behind her. A sharp whistle
made the wolf pad past her and back to its master. “Come sit with me.” She
sighed. “I really don’t have time for small talk.” “Then we won’t talk small.
Sit.” Something in his voice couldn’t be argued with and she sat. His beard was
thick and neat, his face worn. The wolf sat with its head in his lap. An open
satchel on the table showed an array of impressive tools, a knife, a telescope,
a crystal ball, and other things that she didn’t recognize. “I’m sorry for the
informality, I’m not a stickler for pomp and circumstance,” he said, and
chuckled. “I suppose I’ve been out in the Wilds for too long to be fit company
for civilized folks.” “Whatever made you go out there?” she asked. “The question
is what made me come back,” he replied, the jovial expression falling from his
face.
___________________________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck