sci fi

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 for more information.

Nerd on!

❤ 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 –


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

Shout out to the Ink Slingers Guild

I want to take moment to tell a story about how I met some of the greatest people I have ever known.

I’ve been writing for about 12 years now. I sat down and wrote my first novel, longhand, on anything from to notebook paper, to flyers, to scraps of paper I found lying around and typed it into the computer on Saturdays, when I was fourteen years old (it was called The Three Mountains and the last time I looked at it, it needed some serious editing).

I have learned as a writer, you get these three questions.

1. What do you do? (or as a young person What would you like to do when you grow up?)

Writer: I write.

2. Oh, what do you write?

Writer: Fantasy (or genre of choice here).

3. Are you published?

Writer: …

I was mortally terrified of question #3, or more accurately, of the answer, which was an unfortunate “no”. In fact, I was so terrified that when I was  a younger writer, I would never tell people that I wrote.

I had the idea that I would like to go places with my writing, but I had no plan for that. Until I received a fateful text from my brother, telling me to talk to a woman he worked with. I recently went and found the first email I sent to her, on March 28, 2011 at 9:18 PM:

“Hi Lisa,
My name is Nicole.
I got your email address from my brother, (insert name), who works with you. He told me about this inksligersguild that he overheard you – or someone else at the office, I forget exactly which – talking about.
I checked out the website that he gave me, and it sounds awesome. I am a fiction writer myself and am very interested in finding out more about it!
If you could email me back with the details of what it is all about and what I would need to do to be a part of it, that would be really great.
Thanks very much,

Yes, I did refer to it as “this inkslingersguild”. Lisa still saw fit to invite me to attend a meeting, and so I went to my first ISG meeting on 13 April 2011. Thusly, I was introduced to, and  subsequently inducted into the Ink Slingers Guild.

The Ink Slingers Guild, as described on the website, “is a group of fiction writers that provide each other support, inspiration and the occasional kick in the arse.”

We are awesome.


(And we have matching shirts).

We get together every two weeks to go over our accomplishments (or conquests, if you want the real, insider lingo), check up on each other, and and get that kick in the arse, if required. Even if someone can’t come to the meeting for some reason or another, we make sure they get the words of the writing exercises, and there’s always Skype:


We support each other in our writerly endeavors, with feedback, beta-reading, proofreading, or providing emotional support when reading aloud in front of real, live people.

isg 2

(Like the time we went to read some Stories My Friends Started at Wordier Than Thou.)

Before the Ink Slingers, I had some talent, passion, and a secret dream. Now I have two novels published, multiple short stories in seven anthologies, and a group of awesome friends. I can honestly say joining the Ink Slingers Guild literally changed my life.

So here’s to Lisa,  Courtenay, Rhiannon, Alanna, Erika (and Dalia), Jen, and Desi:

I’d like to say you guys are magnificent, amazing, and wondrous, and I love you all!

❤ ❤ ❤ DragonBeck

Interdimensional Staplers

Greetings all!

So, a few little tidbits and teasers from the last Ink Slingers Guild meeting – first, I’m meeting with my editor on Saturday regarding (drum roll) Book III of Guardians of the Path, tentatively titled Omens. I thought that was a good and scary sounding title. Second, there were vague hints and threats of a second coming of Jimmy (as in The Death of Jimmy) or perhaps that would be the second demise of Jimmy. Also, work on this year’s ISG anthology continues, title to be determined. Maybe I’ll see if I can post a teaser or two from my submission here.

And here is the first of the exercises from the meeting: (I know the picture is a little boring, but no one does magic interdimensional staplers. I like that it looks old-fashioned, and that is going to have to be good enough.)


stapler, pot, keen,

She stirred the stew bubbling in the pot with a fierce frown. To say she hadn’t been too keen about his plan would be like saying the mountains winters were a little chilly. She looked down. The stew was thin, not much better than flavored water.
“That’s what we get for wandering around the wilderness looking for some clue to a treasure that doesn’t exist,” she grumbled to herself. “What did you say?” a voice behind her said.
She turned and gave him her best unimpressed look. “I said this stew is not going to be very tasty. We’ve got no rations left.”
“What if we put these in?”
The rabbits he held up looked like scrawny rats, but they were better than nothing. He held them out of her reach when she tried to take them.
“First you have to smile,” he said.
She frowned.
“Just a little one,” he wheedled.
Her lips twitched up at the corners. He beamed in response and presented her with his catch as if it were a fatted stag. He stood there, his hands behind his back, looking at her with a mischievous expression. She gazed back warily.
“What?” she finally said.
“Do you want to know what else I found out there?” he said, waving his hand in the general direction of the inhospitable wastes they were currently trekking through.
“Not really, but you’re going to tell me anyway.”
He pulled something from behind his back very slowly, and held it out in his palm. Despite herself, she was intrigued. It didn’t look like it came from this world. Don’t think like that, she scolded herself. This is just a bunch of nonsense.
“What is it?” she asked, trying to keep her voice flat and uninterested.
“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “It says something on the side, but I can’t make it out.”
She leaned closer to look. “Red and Black Stapler?” she read. “What does it do?”

More news soon!

❤ DragonBeck

It All Adds Up



A few days ago, I had a random train of thought, a random writerly train of thought, and as such I was inspired to share.

I, Nicole DragonBeck, have been a member of the Ink Slingers Guild for over 5 years now.

ISG meets every second Wednesday, as a rule, from 7:30 – 9:30 pm, and we generally have one month off a year (which means one skipped meeting) in December for Christmas and New Year’s.

In those five years, I have missed only one meeting (I was camping and didn’t have wi-fi).

The largest part of the meeting is taken up with our exercising – no, we don’t do crunches and push-ups: 3 members each choose a word and we have 5 minutes to write whatever we can, or please, incorporating those three words. Sometimes we do 4 words and 8 minutes. Some of us, and by some of us I mean me, may ignore the timer, but not by that much. When the timer goes off, we go around the table, in no particular order, and read out what we’ve written. We do 2 to 4 exercises in a meeting.

This is a great way to get those writer’s synapses jumping and the creative juices flowing. Note: there is NO critiquing. By anyone. At All. Ever. And there is NO self-invalidation allowed, either. The point is to practice writing, not to demean, degrade, or discount your writing, or the writing of another.

Some members write long-hand, some type in Word. I type my ISG exercises in a text document. I have all of them, since the very first time.

Recently, I dumped it all into Scrivener (the writing program I use and highly recommend) so I could get a word count.

Ready for it?


That might not sound like much, but let me put it into perspective for you.

The word count of a novel varies depending on who you ask, and what genre you write.

For example, Wikipedia says:

Novel: over 40,000 words
Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story: under 7,500 words

From another website, (

A novel is anything over 50,000 words
A novella is between 20,000 and 50,000 words
A short story has a word count of under 20,000 words

Writer’s Digest suggests (depending on the genre) 55,000 – 110,000.

55,000 words, per all the above, is a novel. That would only be the first draft, you understand, but a writer has to start somewhere, and that would be the first step.

Now, time for some maths (if you don’t like maths, don’t worry, I’ve done it for you): writing once every 2 weeks for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 55,000 words = 1 novel.

If that doesn’t sound incredibly gratifying to you, we can double it: writing 1 evening a week, for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 1 novel of 110,000 words (or 2 novels of 55,000 or 1 ½ novels of 85,000…you get the idea)

Double it again: writing 2 evenings a week, for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 2 novels of 110,000 words, or 4 novels of 55,000, etc…

And double it once more: writing 4 evenings a week, for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 4 novels of 110,000 words (or 8 novels of 55,000, or 6 novels of 85,000…).

That’s one novel written* per year. At about 2 hours a week.

Those are all very rough figures, and I’m sure someone could come up with a hundred reasons why it doesn’t work like that, but forget the maths. The point is, it all adds up. You don’t have to sit down for one weekend and pump out 250,000 words of the greatest American novel ever. Publishers wouldn’t even accept that, unless your name starts with Stephen and ends with King, or something like that. You don’t have to write your novel in a week or a month either, in 5-hour stretches every day, and 19 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

Just spend half an hour in an evening, or in the morning, or on a lunch break, or whenever, three or four days a week. In a year, there’s the first draft of your novel written*.

And I don’t believe there’s any restriction on writing more, if one wanted to 😉

Food for thought, for anyone who may care to write a book 🙂

Good writing!

❤ DragonBeck

*Note I qualify the statement with “written”. There’s a lot more, and I mean A LOT more to getting it ready to publish, and then getting it published, but those are other stories 🙂


Not a Man to Cross

The Ink Slingers Guild meeting is always a great place to learn new words. Or use really awesome words that one already knows.

1. (of a person) subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind.
2. of or containing the element mercury.

I used the first definition, because I like it more. This is a continuation of the first exercise we did. Enjoy!


mercurial, current, drop,

Halley waited in the darkness. Panic waited on the fringes of her consciousness, waiting to drop in on her. Her life as a slave and human sacrifice for the fae king had not agreed with her, and she was fairly certain this current situation was going to end up in a like manner. The mercurial fae did not have much respect for their lessers, as they saw.
The hood was taken from her head and she looked up to see not an elf, but a man. A man wearing elf’s clothing. He bent down and offered her a drink. Halley pursed her lips and drew back, giving him a glare and a clear warning that she wanted none of his potion.
“It’s water,” he told her. “You must be thirsty after all that dancing.”
Halley glared at him a moment longer, then snatched the glass from him and downed it.
“Thank you,” she said. The common tongue felt rusty on her lips. It was not permitted in the forest or in hearing of the elves. And they had very sharp hearing, something Halley had learned early on.
“How long have you been here?” the man asked.
Halley had to count in her head. “Twelve years,” she said. “Since I was ten.”
The man stared down at her pensively. “You probably have not heard about what’s
happening outside of the forest.”
“What happens in the outer lands doesn’t concern me,” Halley said. “I only care about what happens to me here. Which is where you are, I might add.”
The man smiled. “Yes, we’ve made inroads.” He stretched out his hand. “My name is Calahorn.”
Halley froze. The stories that followed that name were not few, and mostly contradictory, but they all said he was not a man to be crossed. He was looking at her expectantly.
“Halley,” she said, and left out her own family name as he had. It was better than way for now.

And the third part coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

New Year’s Resolutions

I’m a few days late (I had to think about it for a bit) but here are my resolutions for 2016.

1. Take over the world.
2. Smile a lot.
3. Drink lots of coffee.
4. Publish a novel.
GOTP_FirstMagyc_eBook_Final_Sm ria's mark
5. Get my ISG anthology story in by the deadline.
6. Write some Stories My Friends Started.
7. Maybe publish two novels.
8. Find and tame a dragon.
9. Travel the world a-dragonback.
10. Make magic.
11. Write, every day.
12. Read, when I get the chance.
13. Be awesome, always.
14. Spread the awesomeness.
15. Treat myself once in a while.
16. See Star Wars.
17. Try some new recipes.
18. Make new friends.
19. Eat good food.
20. and chocolate!
21. Do my part to help make the world a better place, before or after taking it over is fine.

So, I’ll be working on the above over this next year, and I’ll keep you updated on progress (or lack thereof). I hope everyone had goals and dreams they’re working towards, and I wish them the best in seeming them come to fruition this year.

I’m sure I’ll see you down the road somewhere 🙂

Peace and Love!

❤ DragonBeck

Final ISG Meeting of 2015

(or in other words “Where did the year go?”)

Yes, it is true. Last Wednesday was the Final ISG Meeting of 2015.


We did our usual: drank tea and had a lot of fun. In amongst a few soppy moments, we looked over our progress of this last year towards total world domination, such as four of our members releasing novels [First Magyc by yours truly, Klauden’s Ring by JM Paquette, My Home on Whore Island by Dalia Lance, and The Guardians by Lisa Barry (no connection to my story 😉 )], and the release of  the fourth annual ISG anthology, Bent Horizons.


Then we plotted out the final steps to achieving said domination in the upcoming year. All very exciting plots and plans, which I will let you in on in good time 🙂

We also did our writing exercises. I give you a doppelgänger, an accidental murder, and a strange food called pizza, all with a splash of surprise and magic. Please savour these.

Duplicity, yank, toenails.

Miranda stirred the bright vermilion potion, watching the white monkey’s
toenails dissolve with a hiss. Then she added the heart of a pheasant, two
phoenix eggs, and a pinch of stardust. Glancing at her worn spell-book resting
on the table beside the cauldron, the young witch went through the spell of
duplicity one last time, mentally checking off each step.
She had started the brew under a blue moon, adding the quartz and dragon’s blood
to spring water taken from the First Garden. It had simmered for a fortnight,
then she had carefully added one drop of summer sun each day for ten days. When
it glowed golden, the final ingredients were added.
Miranda looked down at the lump of shadow and dropped it into the cast-iron pot.
It fell heavier than she had expected something as light as a shadow should,
splashing her hand with the bubbling liquid and she yanked her hand away,
frantically rubbing it against her robes to remove any trace of the potion.
The potion itself swirled into an inky soup, then burst out into a bright silver
glow. The witch scooped out a ladle-ful, blew on it to cool it down, took a deep
breath, then downed it all in one gulp. After her head cleared and she was sure
the dizziness wouldn’t cause her to fall into something and break it, she looked
Miranda found herself gazing into her own large green eyes, except the pupil was
milky-white and slitted, and when her double smiled, the teeth were sharp and
red as blood.
sink, wish, murder,

Jansen washed his hands, scrubbing hard and trying not to notice the reddish
water running out of the sink. If he had one wish, it would be to undo the
events of this night, so he could go back and do what had to be done and do it
right. It wasn’t supposed to end up like this.
A knock at the door made his heart start pounding again. He wasn’t ready to deal
with them yet. The knocking continued, echoing the sound of his heart as he
finished cleaning his hands, then started on his forearms, all the way to his
elbows. He took a towel and slowly dried himself, stalling for time. When the
knocking sounded as though it was really going to break the door in, he walked
over and opened it, putting on his most serene face.
Three of the ugliest faces in the kingdom stared back at him. The troll princes,
whose names Jansen could never remember, and he wouldn’t have been able to put
the names to the faces anyway, all tried to shove through the door at the same
time. Jansen sighed and sent a small prayer of thanks to whichever god had made
trolls so quarrelsome. They were so busy fighting among themselves that there
was still a chance that they wouldn’t notice what Jansen had done, thereby
saving him the trouble of adding them to the first murder of the night. Granted,
it had been an accident, but that wasn’t his way. Jansen looked up at the
largest troll, looming over the man in his own small welcome room, and blinked
“Yes?” he said.
“What happened to Dersstern?” the troll growled. “We didn’t see him at the war
Jansen retracted his thankful prayer. It looked like there was going to be some
more washing up to do later this evening.
Pizza, humble, surprise,

Jadae bit into the strange food the strange man had given to her in his strange
house in the strange land she had found herself in on this very strange day.
“What did you say this was?” she said, looking at him as she chewed slowly and
“Pizza!” he said with a happy grin. “Do you like it?”
Jadae considered. “It is hot,” she said at last. “What do you have to drink?” ”
“Oh, right!” the man said. “Try this!”
He handed her a glass of a strange liquid.
“What is this?”
“It is a surprise, but you’ll like it,” he hastened to assure her.
She took a very small sip. It bit her tongue, but was sweet, and tingled in her
nose. He burst out laughing at her expression.
“It’s Coke,” he explained.
“What is that?” she asked again.
“We don’t really know, but we just like to drink it,” he said. “Strange,” Jadae
muttered to herself.
She stood, the barely touched stuff he called food sitting on the plate. “I have
to return to my home now,” she said. “I can be delayed no further.”
“My humble abode isn’t that interesting to someone from a land of mystery and
magic?” he said, his face drooping. “No, it’s fine, I can understand that.”
Jadae shifted uncomfortably. She had no ideas of the customs or etiquette in
this land. All she knew was she had to get home.
“I offer great thanks,” she tried, putting on her most formal manner in hope
that he stop looking hurt. “But I really must go.”
She started for the door, placing her hand on the strange handle, but it shocked
her with a force that she did not expect at all. Magic. She turned to the man
who had found her, taken her in, and tried to help her. He was watching her with
a smile, but now a darkness in his eyes made him look sinister.
“You cannot leave now Jadae. You cannot leave now, or ever,” he said, his smile
widening, and the fairy creature shrank from the sound of her name on his lips.

I hope you heeded my words and savored those, because there will be no more writing exercises to share until 6 January 2016. If you did not heed my advice, feel free to go back and reread them.

In the intervening time, I will be writing, rewriting, and editing further books in the Guardians of the Path series, namely book two Ria’s Mark and book three (working title) Omens. Also, I will be devising a devious scheme to see The Force Awakens some time shortly after its release without getting trampled by mad Star Wars geeks and fans. I’m very excited about all of this!

I do promise to pop out every once in a while to say “Hi!” and perhaps add something else entertaining 🙂

Until then,

May the Force be with you!

❤ DragonBeck

What Happens When a Writer Goes Camping?

So, what happens when a writer goes camping?

Pretty much the same thing that happens whenever a writer does anything: coffee, story fodder, and tax write-offs.

In all seriousness, camping was a lot of fun. My family and I went out into the wilds for a week. It was cold enough to have ice in the buckets on some mornings (I live in Florida – ice is a novelty, okay?). At night, there were so many stars. We identified Cassiopeia (the constellation) and saw shooting stars (I made the obligatory wish). It did rain for almost an entire day, which was preceded by the spookiest wind I have ever heard (definite story fodder). We ate good food, sat around a fire, and enjoyed nature. I got a nice opportunity to read.

I read books 4 and 5 of D. J. Machale’s Pendragon series, which I am loving (thank you Rhi!), and a large number of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide books (Court, I am all filled in on why I need my towel, and now fully appreciate my present). I finally got to read Brian Rathbone’s The Fifth Magic: Book One of the Artifacts of Power Trilogy, which was very cool – it had dragons! The only thing was it’s the seventh book in the Godsland series, so now I must go and read from number 1: Call of the Herald. My list of books to read grows ever longer.  That’s okay. They have dragons 🙂

I also….wait for it…wrote a little.

Most of what I wrote was a synopsis of the full ten book Guardians of the Path series, in this journal:

IMG_20151121_121128      IMG_20151121_122034

…which makes this journal the single most valuable and important object currently in my possession.

Except for that one other super-magical and secret thing that I am not at liberty to reveal, and my head, of course 😉

Also, during the time spent being one with nature and forgetting that civilization existed (other than the small, virtually unimportant fact that civilization provided the tent, sleeping bags, and ice chest that we used), I started playing with the idea of doing blogs here and there on “five things people forget to mention about ______”.  I’d make it a record of all the things I learn, which seem to be conspicuously absent from the books I read. For example, “Five Things People Forget to Mention about Fire” would include such things as the fact that wet wood creates a lot of smoke that one will cough, splutter and choke on, or if it is a very cold night, a fire will warm you, but only on one side; if you’re facing the fire, your face and hands may be warm, but your backside will be freezing. I think it will be fun and educational, and I did come up with a few topics but promptly forgot them. I’m sure they’ll come back to me.

Then, after spending seven delightful cold and bug-free days in the mountains, we drove back home, arriving at an unmentionable hour in the morning. Upon moving from the vehicle to the Florida atmosphere between said vehicle and my house, a mere 2.4 seconds passed before I was sweating and had a mosquito bite on my ankle. That would be the best way Florida knows to welcome me home, the only way rather, and most likely the first log entry of any alien being unsuspecting enough to land on this bit of Earth. (On behalf on the population of Florida, I offer apologies, but apparently we have really nice beaches, so you should go see them to make up for the rest.)

Tomorrow I will get with my editor on Ria’s Mark (book II of Guardians of the Path) for the first round of edits and rewrites. At some point in the not too distant future, I may even have a picture of the book cover for you to feast your eyes on.

Until next time,

don’t forget to bring your towel,

❤ DragonBeck

Sunday – The Party

As promised, here is part II of the action-packed weekend of literary adventure and awesomeness!


On Sunday, at 11:30 a.m., the members of the Ink Slingers Guild gathered together in the secret, underground lair and home of the Gargoyle Den Mother to celebrate the release of our fourth (fourth!!!) annual anthology, entitled Bent Horizons (available on and another year of being weird and wonderful!

bent Horizons

This year ISG reached the milestone of 10 books published to date: 6 anthologies, 4 of which are available in both paperback and e-book, and 2 only in e-book, and four novels from members of the Ink Slingers Guild (Lisa Barry’s The Guardians, JM Paquette’s Klauden’s RingNicole DragonBeck’s First Magyc, and Dalia Lance’s My Home on Whore Island).


It was a wonderful afternoon of food, friends and fun (not necessarily in that order). However, it was not all play and no work, as the first order of business was signing a mountain of books…


…and of course the words were chosen for 2016’s anthology. I was quite impressed with the selection this year, truly words worthy of a writing group, and I am looking forward to getting them all into my story 😉

The first and second words were chosen by a margin of almost double, but the whole Guild and guests waited with bated breath as a four-way tie for word #3 was decided by a tense tiebreaker. The three chosen words were apothecary (mine!), succulent, and satin. 


Though I was completely exhausted at the end of the day, ready to do no more than collapse on the sofa for a good movie, I had a lovely time, and I have to say, this is a fantastic group of amazing people and talented writers, and I am so glad I found them. We have so much fun together, and I could not imagine life without said group. I am looking forward to another year, and many more, of slinging ink in their company.

I will keep you updated on upcoming releases and other exciting news from the Ink Slingers Guild, Witching Hour Publishing and yours truly!

Peace and love,

❤ DragonBeck