Posted on November 27, 2013
I know many of you have been waiting for this, but finally Fire of the Covenant has been PUBLISHED on Kindle.
Click this link, Fire of the Convenant, to go to the Kindle book on Amazon
In case you didn’t know, this is the first book in the Dragon-Called Legend series.
If you enjoy the book I would really appreciate if you could go back to Amazon and leave a Review. A good review would be even more appreciative
An over-sized paperback will be available by mid-December. Fire of the Covenant will be available on Nook, iBook, and a few other platforms in January.
Book Two is already in the works and scheduled for release later in 2014. The working title is The Sword and The Staff.
If you have any questions about the Fire of the Covenant, please do not hesitate to leave a comment on the site or send me an e-mail.
I really hope you find the book exciting and the characters interesting. Check back on the website as I will provide more behind-the-scene insights into the book and the characters.
Posted on November 22, 2013
After a lot of thought (well at least the last week), I came to the conclusion that people are either Picards or Borgs.
“What are you talking about now?” My ever familiar – familiar, just popped in and of course the first thing she does is question my thoughts.
“I am talking about how people are different.” Explaining everything I say has become a daily ritual.
“Then why don’t you just say you think people are different.“
One, two, three, four– The patient side of my brain tells me only six more to go. Oh never mind another part says as patience is not a well developed part of my character. “Five,” I say out loud. “What I am trying to do is use an analogy to show the difference in people.”
“It sounded more like a metaphor to me.” Her blond hair drops over her shoulder as she tilts her head in a cross between a question and a statement.
“I guess… maybe it is a…” Why do I let her get me off-track like this. “I don’t know. Even my high school English teacher got them confused.”
“Whatever.” She shrugs, but in that way that could make you feel inferior. You know, a casual lifting of the shoulders, but the words that go with it are a bit condescending as if it isn’t that important, but she knows she is right regardless.
“As I was saying, people fit into two categories, Picards or Borgs.”
“If you say so.” She drops into her chair, one leg over the overstuffed arm, her head on the other arm as she stares up at the ceiling.
“I do.” Six, seven, eight, nine, ten I take a deep breath.
“So how are people Picards or Borgs?” She turns her head to look over at me as I sit at the desk.
“Let me ask you a question.”
She continues to stares at me, but doesn’t say anything.
“Okay, what is the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the Borg? You know the ones from Star Trek.”
“I knew which ones you meant.” Her upturned lip tells me that she is only slightly irritated. “I guess that they don’t know how to accessorize. Have you seen how awful their costumes are. Nothing put tubes, pipes, and wires… and everyone of them have this thing over one eye. Why not both eyes? At least that would like a pair of sunglasses.” She smirks as she waits for my reaction.
“Seriously.” I close my eyes and lean back in the chair and when I open them her smile has widened. “You know that is not what I meant. And besides, who cares what they look like.”
“Probably Mrs. Borg, though I guess the female Borgs look pretty much the same.” Her lips twist. “’In fact they all look and act alike”
“Exactly.” I finally smile though she came to what I wanted in a round about – I mean really long round about – way. “They are all the same. It is nearly impossible for a Borg to do something different than what is deemed right by the Collective. In other words, they all follow the same set of rules because working as one unit they can accomplish things that they could not do alone.”
“You almost make it sound attractive.” The smile fades and is replaced with a crunched up face, like she is trying to make a rabbit nose.
“Well to some people it is. In fact some people say that the writers of Star Trek were using it as a metaphor for socialism.”
“I told you it was a metaphor.” The smile is back.
“Whatever, that is not important.” My head shakes and I close my eyes just for a moment and take another deep breath. Talking to my Muse takes the place of my deep breathing exercises at yoga. “Other people see it as just a reference to the need for working together. I think most people fall into this category. Not that they are robotic like, but they are used to following the rules blindly or at least only giving it passing consideration. It is easier to leave the decisions to others. Takes away the responsibility.”
She nods, and then asks, “What about Picards. Wasn’t he absorbed into the Collective one time? Wasn’t he a Borg?”
“Ah, but Picard was different.”
She looks at me, her expression quizzical.
“Picard has a bunch of rules – right? Star Fleet has an entire laundry list of things he can and can not do.” I know my voice is rising a little, but I tend to get excited when I get on a subject that really interest me. “But he evaluates those rules in light of the situation and weighs the benefits against the risk of breaking the rule.” I love how he would justify his actions. “Then he would go ahead and do what he thought was right.”
“What about when he was a Borg?” She seemed to be trying to reconcile the Collective and the breaking of rules.
“But that is exactly how he defeated the Borg. He had to become one of them and use their own adherence to the rules to defeat them.” Sitting back I smiled. “He did the unthinkable, from a Borg’s perspective, he went outside the rules.”
“So you are saying that people are either mindless followers or they are willful renegades?” She has an acute sense of sarcasm that would make Bill Murray envious.
“No. Yes. I mean sometimes.” It did not have to be a complex discussion for me to get confused when I talked with Willow. “No one, well at least the majority of people are not just one or the other. I think people are a mixture of both, but I do think people tend to lean in one direction or the other.”
She had sat up while I talked; which was a true indication she was interested.
“So what are you?” Her stare was fixed as she leaned forward.
“In my heart I am a writer.” I did not hesitate. “A fantasy writer.”
“So…” She leaned a little closer.
I could feel my grin as I answered her with a laugh, “A Picard of course!”
As I mention above, I think everyone is a mix of both Picard and Borgs, with neither being all good or all bad. The world needs both so that the book 1984 doesn’t become a reality, and we also don’t end up in complete anarchy. Given a choice (only picking from these two), share which way you think you lean and why? Or maybe you are dead in the middle. Again why?
Posted on October 21, 2013
Below is a link to an article about my weekly Writers Group. When the newspaper does the article on me, you can bet I will post it here also.
Posted on September 26, 2013
Old friends can be a blessing. One such old friend, who I have known for over 22 years, Hikaru, a professor of American Film and Theater from Japan, recently visited and we had a grand time.
“So that is why you’ve been ignoring me.” An accusing voice sounded behind me.
I could see her reflection in the computer monitor. She looked a little haggard as if she had been camping in the woods for a week, without a tent.
“What happened to you?” I turned to look at her as she dropped into her leather chair. She was almost stretched out with her head against the back of the chair, about halfway down from the top. Her blonde hair was pulled back with a scrunchie, except for a few strands that hung in her face. She pushed out her lower lip and blew upward trying to get the hair off her face, with little success.
“Where do you think? You left me out in the woods while your friend was here.” She scooted up so she was more sitting than lying. She did not look happy. “You know I don’t do well out there.”
“Sorry.” I truly was. “I had no idea you would be out there. I am guessing by yourself?”
“Yes, by myself!”
“Why did you go there?” I had never thought much about where Willow went when I was busy for a few days and not writing.
“Where did you think I would go?” She was not settling down at all. “You just take off having all sorts of fun and who knows what, and… and what do you think I am doing?”
“I don’t know. What do you do?”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” She had worked herself up so much I could see the beginning of a tear; something totally foreign in my experience with her.
“Nothing?” I was shocked.
“Nothing. When you take off for days on end, your… your Muse is left with nothing to do.” She sniffled. “Who am I supposed to tell when an idea strikes me or when I suddenly realize how to fix a scene that has been bugging the both of us? It is like being in solitude. I feel like I am lost in a forest and not the ‘oh it’s so beautiful out here spending time with nature’, it is more like ‘OMG, I will wander out here forever and never meet another living [or fictitious] person’. It is scarey and it makes me feel unappreciated.”
I could see she was really holding back the tears, but she was straining.
“I am sorry. I really am.” I leaned forward so she could see she had my full attention, though I really wanted to get back to my blog post. “I promise I won’t let that happen again.”
“Are you sure?” She wiped her nose with her arm. Not the most lady-like thing she has ever done.
“Yes, I promise.” I sat back with a smile trying to lighten the mood a little. “If I ever need to be away from my writing for a few days I will make sure to think of you at some point in the day. Even if it is when I first go to bed or when I get up in the morning.”
A smile crept onto her face. “You’re not just telling me this?”
“Well… yes, I thought I was telling you.”
She grabbed a little pillow, stuffed in the side of the chair, and threw it at me. I guess my grin was a little much. But she had a wide smile herself.
“I can’t always be writing every day, but at least I can think of something that you can participate in at least once a day. Even if just for a few moments.” I didn’t want her to fill unappreciated, but being a guy I don’t always get the whole feeling thingy.
She nodded her head.
“The life of a Muse is a tough one. You just don’t understand.” She sniffed a couple of times and the arm came out again.
I handed her a Kleenex. “How about later we go into the woods and find the beauty together.”
“Thanks. That would be great.” Her smile widened as she took the Kleenex and stood to leave.
“Where are you going?” I thought she wanted to work.
“Oh, I’m busy right now. We can work later.” She started toward the door. But before she left she looked over her shoulder to say, in her normal cheeky tone, “The first line really sucks, you should change it to ‘Old friends can be a blessing.’ That would make a better beginning.”
I smiled again as I thought, ‘Yes old friends… and new ones’.
Any old [or new] friends in your life that make it brighter?
Posted on September 17, 2013
With publication less than a month away, I thought it would be good to reflect on the last eighteen months, starting when I wrote the first words of the, soon to be published, manuscript until now.
“Didn’t you say it was a lot of crap.” Ah, here she comes barging in again, and as usual I have no idea what she meant.
“I beg your pardon?” I spun my chair to watch her come through the door. So much for a little private time.
“You always told me that First Draft was crap.” Her smile reminded me of a cinnamon bun, all sweet but something I would regret afterwards.
“True.” She had me there. It had become my mantra during first draft and even through the revision that followed. “And I guess it was a big part of the last eighteen months. A lot of crap ended up on the monitor.” I had to smile as the memories came flooding back, though I also remembered that they weren’t all pleasant.
The leather chair and Willow went together like peanut butter and jelly, they just seemed to stick together. I guess I have seen her sitting there, more often than naught, one leg swung over the arm of the chair, her head lying against the soft and supple back. I turned as she walked across the room and I remained quiet until she dropped into the chair. As usual the leg up was thrown up on the overstuffed arm and she put her chin on her balled fist looking at me. “So, what are you reflecting on?”
“I was thinking how when I started taking Holly’s course almost two years ago and then started the manuscript a few months later, I had this idea that I would zip through it and be publishing by Christmas.” I remembered thinking these thoughts and chuckled at the naivete. “Six months to do the first draft. Another six months to revise it. Add another six to edit, run through beta readers, format, and work through all the details of publishing.” I sat back in my chair, rubbing the shadow on my chin. “Well at least I will be publishing by Christmas, unfortunately twelve months later.”
“It has definitely been a journey.” She held up a glass of red wine to toast.
I started to agree, then realized. Wait, where did she get wine? She can’t– then it came to me, she can do anything she wants. Lucky.
“Yes a journey.” I know where I got the wine that I held up for the toast. Box wine isn’t all that bad. “I have learned so much. Holly’s courses, the other writers in the forums that I talk with every day — yupper, every day, and my writer’s group. A lot of wonderful people that have turned me from a writer into an author.”
“Don’t forget Carol.” Willow pointed toward the family room. “Without her support and her willingness to let you disappear for hours on end into your office, like a monk sequestered in a monastery, you would still be plugging away on the first draft.”
“Here, here.” I held up my glass again and downed it like a monk that had bbeen cloistered for twenty years.
I thought about all the things that had happened. When I first realized the story I was writing was not the story that I needed, or wanted, to write. The times when I had to rip out entire chapters and throw them away — it was like cutting off a limb. “Yes, it has been quite a journey.”
“The first of many journeys to come.” Willow held up her glass once again.
“Yes. Many more books to come and each one will be a journey of discovery.” I sipped on the wine and wondered what the next thirty years would bring. I didn’t have to see it to know the smile on my face had grown into a full-blown grin.
Do you have something you are looking forward to doing in the years to come? Tell me about it and what obstacles you anticipate in your journey.
Posted on September 15, 2013
To see the official unveiling of the book cover for Fire of the Covenant, please go to the Dragon-Called page with the Fire of the Covenant Book Cover Another special treat provided to only those who have subscribed to either my Blog or the the Dragon-Called website.
Posted on September 8, 2013
My editor and I finished going through my manuscript and I sent it off to my four Beta Readers a couple of days ago. I am so excited, as I imagined I would be, yet I find myself simultaneously petrified. What if it is so bad they can’t even get their way through it? What if they do read it completely through and find so many problems that I have to spend the next month making major edits to the document? After all, these are all fantasy writers so I can’t fake it with them.
Now that I have shared the things that keep me up at night, I don’t seriously think that it will be as bad as my nightmares make it. However, that does not make me any less anxious to see their feedback. The optimal situation will be that they only find a few issues (few being relative when considering a 700+ page book) and that their feedback will greatly improve my manuscript. With any luck my editor and I can incorporate their feedback with no more than a week effort. If that is truly the case, then you could potentially buy my first novel for your Kindle, Nook, or iBook by the beginning of October and in paperback by mid to late October.
For those that don’t know what a beta reader is, in my case it is four writers that I know and trust to read my manuscript and honestly tell me what they like and dislike about it. They will tell me if the story flows well or if there are places where they stumbled; if the world I created is believable; if the characters are interesting and if the characters act consistently (considering the events that they go through); and, most importantly, do they care about the characters and the things that happen to my characters. They will not correct typos – that is my editor’s job and hopefully he has done that well.
When we writers ask each other to read our work, the one question we have above all else is, did you care? Did you care about what happened to the characters? Did you care how the story ended? Were you interested and intrigued enough by each scene to see what happened next? This was what was on my mind when I reluctantly turned my manuscript over to these people.
“Why reluctantly?” The voice from behind me asked.
“Because it is my book, my baby, and I don’t want someone to tell me what was wrong with it.” I thought this would be obvious, but I explained anyways.
“But isn’t that the reason you sent it to them… so they could tell you what is wrong before you put it up on Amazon and elsewhere for purchase?” She dropped into her leather chair, off to my right. The weather had turned hot, even inside my office. She wore navy blue shorts and a sleeveless white top, her long blonde hair pulled back into a pony-tail and she fanned herself with a couple of pages out of my edited manuscript.
“Yes,” I said a little too harshly as I knew it was foolish on my part. After all I had sent the manuscript to them specifically so they could find issues before I offered the book to the reading public. “It is just hard to have someone tell you a particular paragraph, or maybe even an entire scene, didn’t work for them – especially if it is one that I thought was one of my best.” I don’t know if this will happen, but the dread remains.
“You don’t have to accept all their feedback you know.” She shook her head gently and from the slight frown I could tell she thought I was being ridiculous.
“I know. But I really want this to be the best book I can put out at the moment.”
“That’s strange.” She tilted her head and looked at me questioning.
“Why?” It was my turn to be curious.
“You said ‘at the moment’. I believe your exact words were ‘…the best book I can put out at the moment.’”
I had to smile. You would think a Muse as being all artsy and her thoughts somewhat scattered, at least some of the time, but Willow had zeroed in on the literal meaning of my words.
“That is what I meant. The best I can do right now.” I swiveled my chair so I wouldn’t have to keep my head turned. “I had a discussion with some other writers recently on this topic. It started when one of them said they were writing their book for a very small niche and that they didn’t expect to sell a lot of picks.”
“Why would they do that?” She wrinkled her nose.
“People write for a lot of reasons. Some to leave their thoughts and experiences for their descendants. Others have a passion for writing, just like a Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, yet have no desire to publish their works, rather sharing it just with their family and friends. There are those writers who are trying to make a social, political, or personal statement. And then those that have a passion for a particular area of study and so their writing is targeted at this small specific area, such as the writer who said they were writing for a very small niche. Then there are those who have no specific agenda other than to entertain, and want to be extremely prolific.” I sat back and steepled my fingers over my chest.
“Like you!” She smiled.
“Yes, like me. I want to spend the next fifteen to twenty-five years producing thirty or forty books. Will each of these books be the great American novel? No… well, I don’t think so. At least that is not my plan.”
Her smirk told me she knew this already. I mean really, she has seen everything I have written.
“I want to put out good books. But I don’t want to spend five years on each one.” I leaned forward, elbows on knees with my fingers still steepled under my chin. “I want to put out books people will enjoy and when they finish reading my books, they will be satisfied and feel like their time was well spent. This is not necessarily the same as writing a book that ends up on the NY Time Best Sellers List.” I leaned back. “I want to be an entertainer.”
She just nodded.
“And I realize that the more books I produce, the better I will get at writing them.”
She smiled. “So this is the best book you can put out at this point and time based upon your writing experience and skill level.” Her smile faded, replaced with a concerned look. “But it will be a really good book… won’t it? I mean you have a professional editor, experienced beta readers, and a circle of other writers that you have been reading and giving you feedback throughout the entire process of writing this novel.”
“That’s right.” I could feel my grin growing. “It’s going to be damn good!”
I’m curious. For those that have writing as one of your passions, what is your motivation? Why and who do you write for? If you are an avid reader, what do you get out of reading a book? Is it a form of escapism? Is it to further your knowledge of the world? Or is there something else you get out of a good book?
Posted on August 22, 2013
I have a lot of writers in my weekly writer’s group that help me with my writing and provide feedback on my manuscripts. They tell me what is good about what I write and, more importantly, tell me what is wrong. It is a special group that I have come to love over the last year.
But today I wanted to talk about just one of them. She inspires me, encourages me, and I love to read her work. Her name is Betty Simm. She recently turned 91 and is more spry than people I know thirty years her junior. She is witty, attentive, and is as sharp as a ginsu knife.
On the news tonight they did a story on “super agers”, people 80 and over who have the acuity of those 20 to 30 years younger. This accurately describes Betty.
She is just now to getting around to selling her ranch and still writes on a regular basis. In fact, I got her permission to post one of her writings. One of many. It is written below.
I love writing. First, distilling an idea, then placing words on a page – one in front of another – nouns, verbs, phrases pouring out of my mind in heebie-jeebie fashion. They describe, explain, encourage, yes, even persuade someone to feel as I do at a particular moment. They can snap the brain synapses of an apathetic friend, perhaps answer a frantic “Letter to the Editor” about a perceived grievous wrong. Fire-in-the-belly words shoot across pages like self-honest bullets, heating the lukewarm. What power!
Writing is creating, planting ideas, sharing facts. Writing is manipulating words, wrapping them around feelings to inspire a mood, instigate change, touch a soul. The first sentence of the most widely read book in history is: “In the beginning was the word… and it was good.” All those historic Biblical words written by inspired authors have toppled kingdoms, cracked hardened hearts, defeated evil, even personalized objective history.
Mankind wants to know what went before – the tragedy and comedy, wars and peace, human actions and reactions. Our ancestors remembered and memorized, struggled and endured, became keepers of our heritage. Then what creative courage it took to invent a printing press to share these words of history. How much we take writing, printing and reading for granted today. They are inherited privileges handed down through the ages from inspired “remember-ers” who wrapped verbal words of facts and feelings with opinions and passion and passed them on as our historical building blocks.
Writing is a stewardship of our heritage. We are the stewards. Our thoughts and feelings add power and distinction to ongoing history. Only if they are passed on. Life seems like a pendulum which moves back and forth in time. Powered by combined individual motivations, the pros and cons, yin and yang, liberal, conservative, atheists, religionists, et cetera, et cetera pull and push against each other to move the pendulum in their dedicated way. So take pen or computer in hand. Write your facts and feelings. Without your push and pull, life’s pendulum will lack your personal flavor or even stall evolution.
Remember! “In the beginning was the Word… and it was good.”
Posted on August 13, 2013
I enjoy golf. Am I good at it? No! Do I keep lugging my clubs out every week and try once again? Yupper! I think I heard someone ask Why?
Because I enjoy it and it seems like in every round there is that one shot, out of around a hundred, that is just beautiful. When I swing the club and hear the sound of the club striking the ball, the swish as it drives through the ball, taking out a perfect divot, then watching as the ball flies through the air, not an inch above the ground, and goes exactly where I meant it to go, not 75 yards to the right or left or buried in a sand trap so deep you can barely see it.
“Gee, that’s nice.” A sarcastic voice beat against me from the doorway.
“Hello Willow, glad to see you.” Not a chance.
She strode into the room, and you guessed it, dropped into her leather chair with one leg over the arm of the chair. I sure wish I could see the chair when she wasn’t in the room, it really looks comfortable, but that will never happen.
“Are you really that bad at golf?” She pulled back her blond hair with both hands, pushing the long strands back over her shoulders.
I kind of liked the way she wore it now, split down the middle. It reminded me of the 70′s.
“Unfortunately yes.” I was not proud of it, but anyone that has watched me play, would have to agree. “But I still enjoy the fellowship and as I mentioned, there is always that one shot that keeps me coming back.”
She twisted her lips and her brows narrowed, a common sign that she was thinking over what I said. “Seems foolish to me, but if you enjoy it, who am I to question you.”
“Thanks, I appreciate your support.” Not sure if my sarcasm came through, but at least I felt better.
She slid back, still sideways, in the lush leather chair [I really wish I could sit in the chair – it looks so comfy] and turned her face to look at me. “So you know my next question, right.”
“What does this have to do with writing?” I leaned back in my office chair, but it just wasn’t the same.
She nodded with a smirk.
I sat back up. She wiggled her shoulders sinking further into the cushion. I am sure on purpose.
“I have been writing a lot of words this last eighteen months.”
“Yes I know.” She held up a finger above her head, pointed at herself, and moved the finger back and forth. It reminded me of what Blake Shelton would do on the Voice.
“Yes, yes, I know you know.” She could be funny at times, but you had to like her sense of humor to appreciate it. “Did you know that the manuscript we are editing is over 167,000 words; which translates to over One Million characters? Each one I had to type, and in many cases, multiple times because of all the changes we came up with.”
“Wow, that’s a lot. I had not thought about it in those terms.” It wasn’t often I could tell her something she didn’t already know. “Are you saying trying to tell me you hit the ball a million times when you play.”
I had to laugh; which got another smile out of her. “It feels like that sometimes, but no, that is not what I am trying to say.”
“The point I was trying to get at is that I might swing the club a hundred times and maybe, if I am lucky, there is one stroke that I just love (someday, maybe more), that keeps me from giving up on golf and keep at it time after time.” I paused; which earned me the response I expected. She sat up and removed her foot from the arm of the chair, leaning forward with elbows on her knees. At least she wasn’t as comfortable as she had been. I smiled and thought score one point for me. But I couldn’t let her wait too long or I would definitely pay for it later. “Something like this happens to me in my writing.”
“How so?” Her interest was piqued and my smile broadened.
As I started to explain it to her my thoughts turned serious. “With all the jobs I have had from a government program manager to a chief scientist in the private sector to a college professor to ministry work with TEENS — writing is the hardest thing I have ever done.”
She only nodded having had a front row seat to the experience. At least the writing. We really didn’t know each other very well before that.
“And there have been many times I felt like just giving up; which is how I ended up with a drawer full of failed attempts from over the last forty years.”
“Why didn’t you. I mean, why now? Why not before?”
“One reason is you.” I said without the usual mocking tone in my voice she was accustomed to when I would compliment her.
The smug look on her face told me she knew I was serious.
I sighed deeply, it was hard to dig deep into how I feel about things sometimes. But I wanted to share this. With eyes closed I clasped my hands behind my head. “There are times, after writing thousands of words, where I feel like I want to dump the whole thing. I re-read what I just wrote and think this is really crap! Just like most of the swings I make in golf. But then I come across a sentence or a paragraph that is like that perfect stroke where the words are just… just perfect. You gave me the words to say exactly what I wanted to say and in a way that expresses exactly what I was trying to convey. It may take a hundred or more sentences, but then I come across that one… and it is all I need. These are the sentences that if I changed the entire scene, I would keep this sentence.”
I opened my eyes and saw that she had leaned closer as I was talking.
“That is pretty kool.” The smugness was gone and she just smiled, I like to think happy for me.
My energy level was rising. “Yes, it is. I have only written the first four chapters of my newest manuscript, the Young Adult novel about a young dragon trainer, and as I was re-reading it I came across the following paragraph. Well a little more than a paragraph, but I thought it was one of those, I got to keep this.”
He took two steps toward the manor, scanning from the grand double doors to the windows on either side. He sucked in and exhaled deeply as he looked down at the half-sword in his hand. His master had drilled him in between training dragons, and while Rylan felt confident in his own abilities, he did not like his chances against a full Ten or more of trained soldiers. He took another step forward looking at the window farthest to the right when a loud rushing noise beat against him as the air parted and the Green’s horned-head passed above him. The sudden eruption of stone, splintered wood, and broken glass surrounded the dragon’s head, causing Rylan to turn his head and throw up his hands. He turned back to the manor as the Green pulled back, leaving a pile of rubble around a large gap in the wall
Well that works,” Rylan said as he stared at the man-sized hole in the wall.
Yeah, kool… really kool.” She just nodded, her eyes glowing.
So, how about you folks. Is there anything that you do that is really hard or difficult, but then there is that one thing that just pulls you in, that one thing that points at the heart of your passion. Let us know what it is. I would love to hear what is your perfect stroke… your great sentence.
Posted on July 26, 2013
A special treat for some of you. If you are not subscribed to the Blog and News on The Dragon-Called series website then you would have missed the latest blog post where I put up a draft map of Taran, the island country where Fire of the Covenant (first book in the series) takes place. Check it out and see where all the excitement is going to happen (starting in October).
Here is the link to the map http://dragoncalled.com/map-of-taran-draft/
And while you are there go ahead and subscribe to the website, if you have not already done so. Your e-mail address will not be shared and only e-mail messages from The Dragon-Called website will be sent to you (and these are few).
Posted on July 20, 2013
I had eyelid surgery recently. The doctor said I had droopy eyes and it was affecting my peripheral vision. The day of the surgery I had to put ice packs tied over my eyes for about 5 minutes or so every 30 to 60 minutes. Needless to say this was quite annoying. Over the next twelve hours I had to constantly stop whatever I was doing and intentionally block out all sight. I could hear, but not see.
A slightly sexy, yet annoying voice [not sure how she does that] commented, “That must have been restful.” Willow strolled in as I was sitting down at the computer. She had on a green dress today instead of her standard jeans.
“Where are you going so dressed up?” She rarely dolled up like this. “And no it was not restful.”
“No where. I just wanted to feel good and getting dressed up does that for me.” She almost flopped down into her leather chair, but at the last moment she pulled at the edges of her dress and sat gently with hands in her lap. “Why wasn’t it restful?”
She did look nice all dressed up, but this is where I question if she is really my Muse or not. A pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and going barefoot suits me just fine. Though my wife tells me I clean up pretty well. “It wasn’t restful because every time I put on the ice pack I had to just sit there.”
She frowned and her eyebrows narrowed. “I don’t understand. Why not take the time to just relax.”
“Because I couldn’t.” I wasn’t sure how to explain it to her. “Every time I had to sit, the world dark around me, with the sounds of the world surrounding me, it made me anxious.”
“Maybe that was not the right word.” I knew the correct word. “It frightened me.”
She sat back her arms crossed, the frown still present. “That makes no sense.”
I stumbled for what to say. “It would have been different if I just decided to close my eyes because I was tired or something like that, but when I was forced to close my eyes it felt… it felt as if I was closing out the world. I kept thinking, what if this was permanent. What if I closed my eyes and the fading light was the last I ever saw.”
Willow’s frown deepened. “Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t know why, but it was coming to me. “I know it wasn’t really anything, but my writer’s mind took flight and I wondered, sitting there in the dark, what if I couldn’t read a book, or even worse, write. And let’s not forget TV and movies.”
“There are always audio books and software like dragon that let you talk and the computer transcribes what you say.” She leaned forward with elbows on knees and her head resting in her hands. The sarcasm was missing; which I greatly appreciated it since it was so rare.
I sat back this time with a sigh. “I know. But I like to listen to music while I read and you know the way I think when I write. Can you imagine me talking to the computer. I would need someone 24 hours a day to just try and correct what the computer captured of my blather.”
“Yeah, you definitely are not a linear thinker.” She curled her lips. “Are you truly worried about losing your sight?”
“Actually no.” I tried to force a smile. “I really don’t worry about physical things like that. I have pretty much a simplistic view of these type of things. It is what it is. If something happens, it happens, and you just move on.”
“Then what is the problem?” Interesting that she could go from frowning, to concerned, to joking, to irritated in a matter of moments.
“I have waited over forty years to become a writer and the dream, the thing I have wanted most of my life, could disappear in an instant. Like the ice pack going on my eyes and never coming off. The dream could be gone.” The sighs became deeper.
She shook her head with a scowl. “You would be the first person to lose a dream.”
“That’s silly.” Now she was just saying stuff.
“That’s right.” Her smirk had returned. “That’s silly.”
I hated it when she helped me to see things. Well not really, but it was hard to swallow at times. “I know it is silly to think that way.”
“It is because your dream would not come to an end.” She laid back in the chair, throwing the dress up over her legs as an afterthought. “If you truly want to write, to publish novels, you will find a way to do it regardless of the obstacles. You stories are not about what you can see or hear. It is about what you can imagine. What you bring from YOU into the story. ”
I quit sighing and thought about what she had said. It was true. If it was important enough to me, I would find a way to make it happen. I could feel a smile rising. Then I thought. Bring on the ice packs.
I know I am not alone, but have any of you had something you really wanted, but had to overcome pretty big obstacles to achieve it? Please share. It could make me, and others, feel better.
Posted on July 19, 2013
Just an update. I have completed Revision of the manuscript for The Dragon-Called: Fire of the Covenant and sent it to my Editor. Now starts the process of back-and-forth as we come up with something that can go out to Beta Readers (figure maybe six weeks).
Posted on July 15, 2013
What would the movie Psycho have been if the shower scene was accompanied by a Disney song. Or if you were watching a romantic movie and the theme from Jaws was played. At the same time, can you imagine the movie Jaws without the music. And when you hear that scary music playing you scream at the character on the screen “Don’t open the door!”. And of course they do.
Music is an integral part of our viewing pleasure. Even in the days of Silent Film, there was a piano player in the front of the theater playing appropriate music for the movie. I don’t think anyone will argue that music plays a critical element in what we see on the big and little screens.
But I don’t think a lot of people consider that music can be a critical part of your reading pleasure as well.
But before I get into that I wanted to talk about what made me think of this post. It had to do with the recent passing of Cory Monteith, who played Finn on the show Glee. I was at the gym working out this morning and listening to the playlist on my phone. Then a song came on that Cory and his onscreen girlfriend Lea Michele, Rachel sang. And yes, I have some Glee songs on my playlist. Below is a YouTube of the song.
It reminded me that Lea and Cory were not only onscreen romantic interest, but they were boyfriend and girlfriend in real life. As I listened to the song it brought tears to my eyes, though since I was in the gym I was able to cover it up pretending I was just wiping off sweat. When you think about what happened and then listen to the words, it really pulls at the heart. And makes me wonder how much Lea must be grieving. And many of the others on the show. Cory was reported to be the glue that held everything and everyone together. The ultimate good guy.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of the Lea and Cory singing the song on Glee. Highly recommended if you need a good cry. It is only about two minutes long. The actual song is about 4 ½ minutes and it is well worth listening to the whole thing. Here is another version, not video of them singing, but a good one nonetheless (the full song) Cory & Lea 4 1/2 minute video
“Okay you got me to cry, now what?” With a sniffle my Muse, Willow, just popped into the room.
“No. I needed that.” She wipes away a tear, then plops down into her overstuffed leather chair.
“Well I just wanted to share something that really struck me today. Sometimes a little thing can really hit you.”
She only nodded in reply.
“Well I was talking about how music influences how we feel about movies and TV. The Glee song No Air is good example of what I was trying to say.” I knew I was taking a while to get to the point of the article, but sometimes the round-about way is the quickest way to make a point.
“Can you get to the point!” The softness was gone, but I could still hear the strain in her voice.
She really is a softee at heart. Though you would never know it to talk to her.
“Well writing, and especially reading, can be greatly affected by the music you may be listening to at the time.”
She tilted her head with one eye partially closed. “How so?”
“Say you are reading a romance novel. You are going along really getting into the characters and the story. Then someone plays a Sex Pistols punk song. At times it might be great to listen to, but it really doesn’t go with what you are reading. But if you were listening to a collection of romantic songs, or at least soft music, that would probably enhance your reading experience.”
“Do you truly think that?” She opens both eyes and I can see her question is serious.
“Yes I do. If I am reading a good fantasy adventure there are a lot of songs that get me further into the book. Something like Celtic Women, Ena, soundtrack from Lord of the Rings, or a dozen other songs. Even a few from Nickelback and some other bands.”
“Nickelback. Seriously?” She wasn’t buying it.
I nodded and gave her my best, yes I am telling the truth smile. “Yupper. Everyone’s taste is different and different songs impact them differently (that’s a mouthful ). What might make me enjoy a mystery novel may be different than what you would enjoy, but the point is that there are those songs that make whatever we’re reading feel more real, more intense, more enjoyable.
She still didn’t look convinced.
So I thought it would be a good idea to get other opinions. “Tell you what. We will ask some of our Readers what they think.”
Okay, let Willow and I know if you agree, disagree, and your own thoughts on the subject. We look forward to hearing from you.
Posted on July 3, 2013
A quick update on what is happening with the book and then I will turn this Post over to the interview that had been started with my Muse, Willow, in April. She really has some rather interesting news that she wants to share.
An update on my progress: I have been steadily revising Book One of my Medieval-themed Fantasy series and working on little else, including this Post. I apologize for that. At the moment I have just finished six hard months of revision. I have just started my editing, and once I complete my part of it I will send it off to my editor so they can start their editing of the manuscript. Once he goes through it, line by line, he and I will go over his recommendations and then the manuscript will go out to Beta Readers. When I receive their feedback, I will again go over it with the editor. Then we will just need to format it for Kindle and Smashwords (Barnes & Noble, Apple eBook, and others), along with the paperback version. With luck, and a lot of hard work, I am still looking at the end of September or sometime in October 2013 to have the book up on Kindle and Smashwords, with 6″ x 9″ paperback version shortly thereafter.
So that is where things stand. Oh, I forgot, I had to lock down the book and series titles before I publish. The final decision for the series is The Dragon-Called and Book One is entitled Fire of the Covenant. These are locked now. Just so you know when you go to buy it.
That is where the manuscript stands today. Now to get back to the Blog site interview with Willow…
It Is What It Is: Thanks Willow, it is nice of you to join us and share some of your thoughts once again.
Willow: Glad to be here. Well, sort of. Peter told me I had to come as he was too busy revising.
IIWII: Alright. We are happy to have you regardless. Now down to a few questions. I have heard that revision is very left brain; which, if I remember correctly, Peter’s Internal Editor, who he calls Lou Grant, would be doing most of the work.
[I must have hit a sore spot because Willow became extremely aggravated. Her smile faded and her eyes narrowed as she bored a hole through my forehead.]
W: You are correct that revision requires a lot of organization and logic. [She settled back down to my great relief.] However it still requires a lot of the creative right side of the brain as well. Lou can decide that a scene needs to be moved, but I am the one that has to figure out where it works best and also have to write the new words to make it fit properly.
IIWII: I see. But doesn’t Lou control most of the activities in revision.
W: Listen. [I had to scoot back in my chair as she leaned forward pointing a finger at me like a Saturday Night Special.] He does have his place but can he write something like this…
Casandra started to speak, but a bright light made both of them throw up their arms to protect their eyes. Torches along the Gallery provided enough light for walking, but this was as if night had suddenly become day. It faded almost as quick as it had come, but through blinking eyes Willoe could still see that the darkness in the courtyard had given up some of its cover. Centered in the small courtyard was a shining ball twice the size of a man. The brightness continued to fade and Willoe was finally able to lower her arm and look directly at the light.
Before her stood a…
IIWII: Stood what?
W: Sorry you will have to read the book to find out. [Her smile had returned as she laid back in what Peter had told me was her chair. A really nice leather chair with large arms that she now threw one leg over. Her smile turned into a grin as she saw my frustration.]
IIWII: You can tell me, I won’t tell anyone else.
W: Sure. What else do you need to know?
IIWII: [It looked like she was going to make me read the book.] I hate to bring it up, but what do you think of Lou Grant’s, you know the Internal Editor’s, skills?
W: You know I can’t say too much. After all I have to live with him. But between you and me, they are not all that great. One thing Lou and I have in common, as you can imagine, is a lack of patience. And patience is pretty important for editing. Don’t get me wrong, he is doing pretty good, but I am really glad that Peter hired an Editor to work with him. Someone who actually knows something about commas, because neither Peter, Lou, nor I have any idea where they go.
IIWII: An Editor. I had not heard of this. Is it someone Peter already knew.
W: Not really. He doesn’t know anyone else in South Africa.
W: South Africa. He goes by EJ for short. He is with the Silver Jay Media. Peter thought he might need an editor. Actually I told him I wasn’t going to keep writing all sorts of fantastic words just so he could screw up the grammar. So he checked around with a few people. An author friend of Peter’s in Germany, Katharina Gerlach, who has helped Peter extensively to improve his writing skills, had recommended EJ. Katharina has published over a dozen books (check out http://www.katharinagerlach.com/) and has used several different editors during that time. She had EJ edit her last novel and really thought his work superb. So Peter contacted him and… well, they hit it off and EJ turned out to be just what Peter, and I actually, needed. The two of them have already started working through the first few chapters and have a plan to go through the rest of them as soon as Peter finishes revision.
IIWII: Well that is certainly great news. It sounds like your team is making a lot of progress towards getting the book finished. What about artwork. Is Peter doing his own book cover?
W: Are you kidding! [We had to stop for several moments to give her time to quit laughing and regain her composure.] Peter does have artistic skills, but illustration is not one of them.
ITWII: Then what does he intend to do? Can you give me another headline?
Willow: Well, he did look around quite a bit and found himself an artist. A professional one. He found her through Twitter. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee. [Her lips twisted in thought and I could see she had some concerns.]
ITWII: Is there anything wrong with the artist?
W: No, absolutely not. She has created over 500 book covers. And she does wonderful work. Here is a link to her video Portfolio youtu.be/h1WUalIRYfI and her website willowraven.weebly.com so you can see some samples of the many different illustration projects she has completed. She is going to do the book cover for this first book and also create a logo for the entire series.
ITWII: Then what seems to be the problem?
W: Look at her name, Willowraven.
W: Don’t you see a trend here. His Muse is called Willow, the protagonist of the series is called Willoe, and now the artist is Willowraven.
ITWII: Oh, I see.
W: Peter just says it is fate.
ITWII: What do you say?
W: I don’t think it is fate. I think Peter just likes the name Willow.
ITWII: I see your point. Well it seems he has put together a really good team in spite of his affection for one particular name.
W: Yes and also pretty global. South Africa, Tennessee, California.
ITWII: I would have to agree.
W: Look, I would like to talk longer, but I really need to go. This is a critical time in the process and I don’t want to leave Peter and Lou too long by themselves. [She winked with the comment.] Can we pick up this conversation at another time?
It Is What It Is: I understand. Maybe we can get together next month. Peter says he will have the book out for the first round of edits with the editor by then.
Willow: Okay great. Talk to you then. Oh did I mention Peter is on Twitter now @PeterCruikshank. You might want to follow him to get more frequent updates.
Posted on June 23, 2013
Today was a special day for those who have… let’s just say, past their peak. Or at least that’s what some people might call them.
Today, Sunday, 23 June 2013, was the final round of the Travelers Championship Golf Tournament in Connecticut. But first let me go back about 3-1/2 months. I was in Florida to celebrate my brother’s 70th birthday. He was playing in the Kenny G Pro Am as part of the Honda Classic Tournament. My brother was teamed up with a Ken Duke, a professional golfer that I had never heard of. But when we walked around the course with Ken, his caddy, my brother, and a couple of other amateurs, we got to know Ken and his caddy Chris Carpenter. They were the sweetest guys. Ken was raised in Arkansas and now living in Florida. Both men came with that down-home humor you find sometimes from good-old boys. Both Ken and his caddy made us feel welcomed and entertained us the whole time. Yes, my brother wasn’t partnered with Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, but we had a great time and none of us would have traded Ken for any other pro. To top it off, their team came in 5th out of 50+ teams.
A little “tsk-tsk” came from behind me and I turned to see my Muse, Willow, shaking her head with an upturned lip.
“Very endearing.” Willow applauded as she walked up to me. “It must be fun to reminisce, but is boring the Readers a new facet of our Blog?”
“It is not boring.”
“Says you.” She flopped into her overstuffed leather chair, a fixture now in my room.
I needed a deep breath to continue. “I was just giving some background for the rest of the story.”
Snorting is not very lady-like, but then Willow isn’t– I guess I should watch what I say as she may be reading this.
“The Readers needed to know the background so they would understand the rest of the post.”
She rolled her eyes, but then looked at me waiting.
“As I was saying, we really got to know Ken Duke, so my wife and I started following him during each tournament. I was surprised when I checked the PGA Tour website this morning and saw that Ken was tied for 6th place going into the final day. Not that I didn’t think he was a good golfer, but he normally ends up in the middle of pack, though he has finished in the top ten this season.”
I guess I got Willow’s attention because she sat up and stared at me, asking for more.
“We sat and watched him as he moved up the Leader board until he was in first place. We cheered like crazy when he finished the 18th hole and the only other golfer that could catch him had a very difficult chip from off the green. And when the golfer chipped the ball in to make a birdie and tie Ken, our hearts sank.”
Willow sucked in her breath as if she couldn’t believe it. Just like we couldn’t.
“They started the playoff on the 18th hole, but they tied. So they had to play 18 again. And–”
“And what?” She sat forward.
“’Ken won.” I said sitting back with a grin.
“Yeah!” She cheered.
“But that wasn’t the best part.” I wanted to really reel her in now.
I could see that I better finish before she strangled me.
“Ken joined the PGA Tour in 1994, nineteen years ago.” I stared at her and leaned forward so she couldn’t miss what I was going to say. “ In a sport dominated by young stallions who, in some cases, aren’t even old enough to drink, Ken won his first tournament at forty four years of age. This is quite an accomplishment considering a player Ken’s age or older, hasn’t won a tournament since 1995, eighteen years ago.”
Willow laughed and fell back into her chair. “That is fantastical.”
“Yes it is.” I nodded happy that she felt the same way I had. “This is what brings me to the title of this post.”
“I thought you just explained that?” She had a confused look.
“That was just the setup for what I wanted to say.” I laughed, then I couldn’t help and become serious as I thought of how this all impacted me. “I have wanted to write novels for over 40 years, but never made this dream come true. Last year at age 59 I started my current novel. A lot of people would say, ‘You are too old’, but lots of people had faith in me. I saw a story on TV this morning about a 76 year old grandmother who started writing novels six years ago. What she called “Erotic Romance”, though others might call it something else. She has written 150 books in the last six years. Another story I saw last week was about an 80 year old woman who was marrying a 91 year old man she had known sixty years ago. But what I picked up on was that she had decided to start writing 15 years ago, when she was 65, and already had a dozen books to her credit.”
“That’s impressive.” Willow nodded her head in appreciation.
“It is. And having turned 60 this year, to those people who would say I am too old to start a writing career, I would ask them to read the 76 year grandmother who writes porno books. Well maybe not. But there are lots of examples of people who made it big later in life. The greatest example of an artist becoming successful late in life is Grandma Moses who started painting in her 70s and kept being productive until she turned 100.” I had to breathe deeply again to overcome my own feelings. “As I said there are lots of examples of artists, both writers and painters, who have been successful late in life– and I plan to be one of them.”
I am doing everything I can to get the word out about my writing, and for those of you interested, I am now on Twitter, putting out (and not every 5 minutes) updates on my progress and a snippet or two from the book. Check me out @PeterCruikshank
Also check out the Sample of the book. The first Three chapters can be found at Fire of the Covenant