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, messyΒ (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

Mystery Guest

I was late to the ISG meeting on Wednesday (this is pretty much unheard of), therefore – my first word. Enjoy!

late (my word), umbrella, worship,

In the pouring rain, a tiny figure made their way up the lane, cowering under an
umbrella that was almost twice their size. Gusts of winds kept trying to sweep
them off their feet, but they persisted, and finally arrived on the doorstep.
They knocked, and after a moment, the door opened. It was dark inside, and
though it was late and stormy, no one had bothered to light a lantern or a
candle. The figure slipped inside, and the door closed behind them. The person
spent a great deal of time shaking their umbrella dry before they set it in the
rack, and then took off the long, sopping coat and hanging that on the coat
“What took you so long?” a raspy voice demanded. “We’ve all been waiting here
for an hour.”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” the figure replied in a tetchy voice that was
much too big to issue from such a small body, “But it’s raining cats and dogs
“Well, you’d better pray to whatever god you worship that the others aren’t in a
foul mood. That doesn’t bode well for our schemes,” the raspy voice said,
unwilling to be mollified by the perfectly reasonable explanation.
“Everything will be fine,” the little figure said.
They were startled by a knock on the door.
“I thought I was the last one.”
“You are,” the raspy voice said, now sounding uncertain. “Should I open it?”
The small, wet figure was saved from answering, as the door was blown off its
hinges with a thunderous boom and a spluttering of flame.

❀ DragonBeck

The Key

An ISG writing exercise, brought to you by – me πŸ™‚

Fish, key, purge

“And then the huge fish leaped out of the water, teeth gleaming like silver
razors, and snatched the key from my hand, swallowing it, and taking to to the
depths,” the man on the floor finished his tale, a pitiful wail escaping his
lips as he cowered, his face pressed to the ground.
Rex lounged on the cushioned bench, and took his time selecting another grape
from the solid gold platter beside him. The servant hovered somewhere in the
vicinity, out of sight, but just as Rex had swallowed, the servant appeared,
swooping in to offer the little vial of the potion that would purge the stomach
should Rex be full yet wish to continue eating. Rex waved him away, and the man
retreated to the world of invisibility.
“A fish, you say? With teeth?” The man on the floor trembled, and somehow
managed to nod his head while keeping his forehead against the stone.
“Interesting,” Rex said, and ate another grape. “And how is it your hand is
still attached to your arm?”
The man quaked, but did not say anything. Rex considered for a moment, his mind
going over the possibilities. He needed that key, more than anything, and it was
all he could do to keep his calm. There were spies everywhere, their eyes and
ears leading directly to the White King, and it would not do to have him know
Rex’s growing desperation.
“Perhaps,” Rex said aloud. “You swallowed the key yourself, and blamed the
fish?” Only now did the man lift his face, though his eyes were squeezed shut,
his mouth trembling in unspoken pleas. Rex waved at a guard. “Open him up.”


❀ DragonBeck

And More Doors

Hello there. I have not been very attentive these last few weeks, but I have a good excuse and a longer post to make up for it. I have beenΒ veryΒ busy with the mundane functions of this world, and then I got sucked into a black hole of rearranging my furniture, and after than it was all kind of hazy. Nonetheless, I am here for you now, to serve and entertain, as is my duty and calling.

The last Ink Slingers Meeting seems like another lifetime ago. I vaguely recalling bringing cookies – chocolate chip white chocolate chip toffee walnut delectables – and according to one who doesn’t eat cookies, these were the most tempting goodies I have brought, to entice one to deviate to the dark side. They were delicious, if I do say so myself.

Erika made us tweet (all in the spirit of love, friendship, and shameless self promotion):

It was a smaller meeting, quiet, but no less fun or productive. I am going to be a beta reader (super excited about this) and I hope I prove worthy of the task.

Moving forward, to last weekend:

…and rewrites are a go! The cover will of course feature a door (hence the title of this post) and I feel as though my life is a parade of magical doors as I search for the perfect one. If any of you have a particularly spectacular picture of a particularly spectacular door, and you wouldn’t mind letting me use it, go ahead and send it my way!

And finally, as a reward for reading all the way to the bottom, here’s the first writing exercise, with (you guessed it)…more doors!

Generate, stasis, tinkle,

The three figures grouped around the towering flames clasped hands tightly to
contain the ribbons of magical energy. Three worried faces were bathed in blue
and purple light, jaws clenched, eyes fierce. Each of them had the same thought:
if the spell did not generate enough power to open the gate, they would be stuck
forever in this world. Bastion felt sweat tickle down his face, and he clenched
the others hands tighter, fighting the urge to pull his hand away and wipe his
brow. He wanted to call out to his friends, but the roaring in his ears – or
perhaps it was his own head – made that pointless. He was just going to have to
trust that everyone was doing their part and everything was going as it should.
Suddenly, a quiet descended, a stasis in which all was frozen, everything still.
Bastion’s eyes widened despite the fiercely glowing fire, and with a creak and a
whoosh, the world imploded. A black star grew in the fire, wild gusts of wind
pushing them towards the darkness. From far away, the tinkle of bells called to
them, and pushing away his fear, Bastion leapt into the opening door.

❀ and hugs, DragonBeck

Necklace – 1st Writing Exercise

We had a very nice Ink Slingers Guild meeting the other day. A few attendees Skyped in, and we teased them with the amazing shortbread biscuits I baked (sorry Court! But you know I love you). There was also tea, and I was very happy with my mug, hence my tweet from the top-secret possibly-underground-bunker location of the meeting:


After we all got through with this next writing exercise, we all agreed it was a warmup (and the inspiration for my word in the second exercise). I felt like this could’ve gone somewhere exciting, I just didn’t have time to take it there.


necklace, lotion, folder,

The necklace gleamed on the bronze bust, blood-red rubies and dark sapphires
twined in gold. Morlan crept towards it, his footsteps echoing in the vast empty
hall. No one tried to stop him as he stepped up to the pedestal and lifted the
heavy piece of jewelry off its stand. It flowed into his hands, silky smooth
coils of metal like lotion, and he sighed. How long he had waited to hold it in
his hands once again.
It was heavier than he remembered, and he frowned when he realized that someone
had ornamented it with a large diamond studded clasp, and added a fourth strand
of gems. Morlan knelt to the ground, and pulled out the leather folder from his
pocket. Opening the worn wallet, he extracted the small blade and tweezers,
tools of his trade, and went to work on the necklace. The clasp came of easily,
and he tossed it aside, the worth of the diamonds and gold enough to feed a
family with a dozen children for year, but he didn’t care.
The additional strand was more stubborn, and Morlan stuck his tongue between
his teeth as he concentrated on removing it without damaging the rest of the

My idea was that the necklace was going to be magic, of course, but I guess we’ll never know what happened to Morlan and his precious necklace!

❀ DragonBeck

The Translator

The last ISG meeting was a load of fun, as usual. The table is getting too small – there was hardly enough room for my treats amongst the tea pot, the cups, and all the computers. But we managed somehow πŸ™‚

Many great things are on the horizon as this year draws to a close (it’s the middle of November already!! Yikes!) and a new one opens before us. Most of it involves copious quantities of writing, so my news may be scarce and scrawny. Bear with me, and it will be worth it, I promise.

Here are the writing exercise from the meeting. A continuance was in order, as you’ll see. Enjoy!


silky, petrify (my word), microwave,

Put under a red moon in the microwave door to the best silky. Beil looked down, and squinted at what he had just read. The others were staring at him with uncertain expressions.

“What was that?” Heidi asked, a polite frown on her face.

Haam was a more direct. “Are you sure you translated that correctly?” he demanded. “Give that to me.”

The much bigger man snatched the paper from Beil, who stood as if petrified. Beil watched Haam glare at the message, challenging it with his bright blue eyes to give up its secrets. One day, Beil told himself in a furious but silent voice, one day I’m going to prove that I’m of some use to this expedition.

He glanced around at the others in the group, and tried not to feel inferior and worthless. Heidi was a magnificent witch, whose spells could protect the whole group even if they were under goblin attack. Haam was the best warrior in the six realms, and was proficient in the sword, bow, and hammer, all of which he carried on his person. There was Dorn, the tracker, Yelda, the seer, and Jaim, the Guardian of the Talisman.

Then there was Beil, of no great talent and no apparent value. __________________________________________

dictator, roam, apple

Beil watched Haam continue to glare at the paper, feeling more and more irritated at the whole world as the big man just stood there without saying a word. Beil was more scared of Haam than he would be of any cruel dictator, but if this continued, they would be standing here for the next three days as the warrior refused to give in and refused to grant quarter.

“Um, Haam?” Beil stepped forward in timid steps. “I’ve had an idea…”

He stopped suddenly, starting at Haam. Beil expected the man’s eyes to be be roaming the paper, searching for clues in the writing, but they were fixed, glassy, and blank. A lump the size of an apple obstructed anything but a soft gurgle coming from Beil, but his terrified look and shaking finger alerted the others to the problem.

A scuffle ensued as Dorn and Jaim attempted to wrestle the paper from Haam’s frozen fingers, and Heidi cast spells of protection and exorcism, all to no avail. Somehow, in the middle of the ruckus, Beil managed to wriggle through and snatch the paper from the bigger man. At once the spell was broken, but it took a while for them to notice Haam was now fine, and that Beil was holding the paper.

“You shouldn’t be touching that,” Heidi warned. “And don’t look at it.”

“He’s fine,” Haam frowned. “And he was trying to read it for a very long time before.”

Despite the insult, Beil felt a sense of satisfaction. At last, some use.


I’ve still got a few more sneak peeks lined up for book III of the Guardians of the Path,Β Omens,Β  now avaialble for pre-sale on amazon, andΒ I’ll try to keep up the updates, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. No rest for the wicked, you know πŸ˜‰

Until then,

Rock on!

❀ DragonBeck

A Sort of Creepy Halloween Story

Hello world – I am rejoicing as the nice weather descends, at least in Florida, for a few short breaths πŸ™‚

The last ISG meeting was very productive – let me see, we have our fifth annual anthology out any day now (with a bonus Halloween story!), the third novel in the Guardians of the Path series due out late November, the 23rd if memory serves, and several other exciting things in the cards and up our sleeves.

And in honor of the upcoming holiday, more by accident than design, all my writing exercises fit together for another nice little sort of creepy Halloween story. So, without further ado, enjoy!


(and once again I’ve forgotten which word was mine. I think it was in the second exercise.)

pumpkin, mere, frisky,

The wind was rather frisky, and it tried to get into his coat as it danced
through the graveyard. Alan shivered, and put his hands deeper into his pocket.
“I don’t think he’s coming,” he muttered to Henry. “We can go home now.”
Henry shook his head, eyes never leaving the misty surface of the mere.
Moonlight made faces in the grey swirls, and twice Alan thought that the old man
was there, but then the fog shifted and the apparition was gone. Alan shifted,
and fought the urge to shiver. He looked over at Henry, who was standing there
with grim determination, arms clasped around the biggest pumpkin they could
Mr. Mcleary, who tended the graveyard, had promised them fifty dollars if they
brought him a pumpkin. In the daylight, that had sounded like a really good
idea, but at twilight on a cloudy night, more sinister thoughts began to plague
“Henry, let’s just forget it,” he said suddenly and quite urgently. “Let’s go
Henry was going to shake his head again, but then his eyes widened. Alan turned
to see Mr. Mcleary emerging from the gloom. In his hand was a long silver knife.
black, condescending, tingle

Alan didn’t notice himself move closer to Henry, or that he had removed his
hands from his pocket to grab Henry’s arm in a bone-crushing grip. The boys
stood there, frozen with fear, as Mr. Mcleary came towards them. He stopped, and
gestured with the knife. Alan moaned. The old man gave him a condescending
glare, and gestured with the knife again.
“Hand it over, then,” he called out, his voice low and raspy.
He had wild silver hair, and wore a long black jacket. Definitely serial killer
type Alan’s panicked mind gibbered at him. Mr. Mcleary grew impatient.
“Come on, come on, I don’t have all night,” he said.
Henry dropped the pumpkin, bent to retrieve it and walked towards the man with
hesitant steps. Alan was dragged along by his unwillingness to let go of Henry’s
“Are you crazy?” he muttered. Something sharp and acidic tingled in his nose.
Mr. Mcleary started and looked around.
“Hurry up boy!” he barked. “Unless you want them to get you!”
“What is he talking about?” Alan said.
“I think he might be talking about those,” Henry replied, nodding at the dark
disfigured shapes lurking behind the pale tombstones.

gnash, whip, vent,

“What are those?” Alan cried out.
“Something that has never left anyone alive to name them,” Mr. Mcleary said.
“Now if you will please hand me that pumpkin, I’ll just get to work on saving
all our lives.”
Henry’s steps were much faster and more eager. Alan’s fingers had gone slack,
and he stood there, his arm falling limply to his side, eyes fixed on the
gruesome things coming towards them with gnashing teeth and whipping tails.
Before his heart stopped dead in his chest, Alan turned and stumbled after
Henry, who had delivered the orange gourd to Mr. Mcleary.
The strange old man was kneeling on the ground, silver knife flashing in the
pale moonlight. He used his hand to scoop out the insides, and threw the goopey
mess over his shoulder without a look. More swift slashes with the knife, and
then he reached into his coat and drew something out. He fitted it into the
pumpkin, and drew back, grinning. A glowing jack-o’-lantern grinned back at him,
venting bright light out of its crude yet strangely cheery mouth.
“What is that for?” Henry asked, his voice much calmer than Alan felt.
“That is to scare them off,” Mr. Mcleary said, rising to his feet. He was right
– the figures had stopped their advancement, contained by the flickering light.
“But it won’t hold them for long.”


Happy Halloween month! Be nice to the ghosts and goblins!

❀ DragonBeck

Moondance Mischief

Greetings world, from the other side of cyberspace!

Last week’s Ink Slingers Guild meeting went off rather well. The strawberry biscuits I made were a hit, and there were no melting cream incidents this time.

I did a continuation on my exercises, and I was planning on going further with this if we did more, but alas, the clock ran out. I guess we’ll never know what happened with this moondance mischief!



Rid, repeat, tea, (I think one of these words was mine, but I don’t remember which one)

Jade took a sip of the tea, and gagged. It took great effort to swallow the
thick, bitter concoction, but Jade was too polite to spit it out. Looking down
into the mug, which was large enough to be a soup bowl, she wondered how she was
going to repeat that action enough times to empty the mug. Or at least drink
enough not to offend her hostess.
Jade glanced up at the elderly woman. Eccentric would have been a good word to
describe her, but Jade would never have said it out loud. She could not rid
herself of the thought that there was something not quite right about old Ms.
Jensen. The woman sat in the monstrous armchair, swathed in silk and lace
shawls. She even had one wrapped around her head, tied up with a string of
pearls. A giant jewel sat in the middle of her forehead and she stared out at
the world through a large pair of glasses.
“You have to drink the rest, my dear,” Ms. Jensen told Jade in a papery voice.
“Otherwise how am I supposed to see the leaves?”
Jade nodded, took a deep breath, and chugged the tea while trying not to taste
it. She set the cup down on the table, her tongue feeling leaden and raw in her
mouth, and looked hopefully at the old woman.
“Well? Can you tell me what will happen if I agree to the whole moondance
Honey, Threat, mischief

“How did you like your tea, my dear?” Ms. Jensen inquired, trailing a withered
finger around the rim of her cup.
Jade wanted to lie, but a sixth sense told her that would not be a good thing to
do. She groped for words, trying to find the most favorable way to put this.
“It could have used a little honey,” she finally said.
Ms. Jensen nodded, her eyes fixed on the tea leaves. She spent long silent
moments gazing at it, her face leaning closer and closer, until Jade was afraid
she was going to fall off the chair.
“Ms. Jensen?” she said, reaching a hand out to catch her if the woman had indeed
drifted off to sleep.
Jade stood, and gently touched the woman on the shoulder. Ms. Jensen’s head
rolled to the side, her mouth hanging open, only the whites of her eyes showing.
Jade shrieked, her heart threatening to leap out of her chest as she stumbled
back, tripped over the coffee table, and fell to the floor. She sat frozen in
terror as Ms. Jensen righted herself, sitting ramrod straight in the cushy red
armchair, white eyes glowing.
“Only the Chosen can dance the moondance and survive, for only the chosen can
live double lives.” She paused, her eyes cleared, and she peered about the room
as if wondering where she was.
“What are you doing on the floor, my dear?” she asked Jade. Jade told her what
happened, and repeated what the old woman had said, then asked “What does it
Ms. Jensen sank back into the sanctuary of her chair. “Mischief is coming,
methinks,” she said, her voice somehow more ominous than before.


❀ DragonBeck

The Cypher

And the final exercise for the fortnight. Alanna’s story and my story went hand in glove for this one – and while we were sitting next to each other, I swear I wasn’t peeking! πŸ™‚

When she posts hers, I’ll update this with a link so you can find out what happened on the other side….



cockroach, cat, thesaurus

the cockroach scurried across the room, and the cat, who had been napping peacefully at the edge of the desk took a spectacular flying leap into the air, sending all his papers into the air after it. Tom jumped up, hair wild and eyes bloodshot from too much strong coffee and not enough sleep. Crawling around on his knees, he gathered the scattered papers, trying to remember what order they were supposed to be in. There was the one-hundred-and-forty-ninth page of the thesaurus, but did it come before the handwritten recipe for his grandmothers blueberry cornbread or after the newspaper clipping detailing the last bank robbery of the famous outlaw Jim Bones? Tom looked between the pieces of paper, struggling to remember the instruction of the cypher. His hands started to shake and his vision was blurring, from lack of rest or tears, he couldn’t be sure, but he was becoming increasing certain of one thing: if he didn’t figure it out before the next new moon, Daisy would be trapped in that other-realm forever.


❀ DragonBeck

Behind the Mask

I wanted to take the whole cliff-hanger, dun-dun-DUN thing to a whole other level, so in a shocking, unprecedented event, I actually stopped AT THE BUZZER, and did not even bother to finish the sentence.


drinking, cheese (my word), cruel

It could be considered cruel, this horrible human farce. He looked down at the glass of some bright, sparkly and entirely repulsive liquid he was pretending to be drinking, and tried not to gag. People stood and walked and danced, inebriated or not, and ate weird food like cheese crepes with olive relish, all the while laughing and talking inanely. He took in a deep breath, meaning to heave a sigh, then realized how that would look should any one see him. Standing there with his chest all puffed out, face slowly turning red as he tried to come up with a plan to release the breath in the most socially acceptable manner possible, he saw her. She was across the room, and wore one of the ridiculous masks like the others. Except she didn’t look like the others – something about the way she looked out from behind the elaborate feathered accessory on her face struck a chord in his chest and his heart fluttered. He relaxed, and breathed out, debating about whether propriety would allow him to approach her. All these customs about etiquette and interaction baffled him. Just when he thought it might be worth risking it…


❀ DragonBeck