Friday, July 27, 2012

The Guardian

Who knows - it might be my next published book. What do you think? Would you like to see this one published soon?
The war with the bug-like Cerfcum was dragging on, but we were gaining ground. We were pushing them back - slowly, but only because we were able to turn their magic back on them. When a young queen was captures, scientists were able to take some of her magic resonance and insert it into human volunteers. Eventually, these volunteers learned the right words to make the magic work and they became kown as Guardians. Guardians of the weak. Guardians of the helpless. Guardians of humanity. Guardians of our very existence.

Reed Meyers was one such volunteer. Reed was determined to follow in his father's footsteps so he graduated from the Mercenary School at the top of his class. When he heard of a call for volunteers to become Guardians, he went to see. It was there that he learned of his father's career - and death - as more than just a mercenary, but a Guardian. He could do no less. The sacrifice he had to make in order to do his father proud was the memory of that - of his father, of his loss. The next best thing was to tell himself that. He poured it all out on a disk, and it became one of his most treasured possessions.

With steadfast determination, Reed worked hard to bring about the end of the Cerfcum. He was instrumental in bringing about the death of the Cerfcum Queen Mother, thus bringing down many of her youngest queen daughters and ending the war. But the death of the Queen Mother wasn't the end of the story - oh no. From the heart of the Queen Mother's hive, he brought away a human toddler. At least, he was human in all ways except his lime-green eyes. No, they hadn't seen the last of the Cerfcum. Adam was proof of that. You see, Adam wasn't as human as he appeared, but he tried very hard to be what he was made to be.

Friday, July 20, 2012

White Star - Book 2 of Making of a Mage-King

Here's a teaser for you. This little sample is very near the beginning of the book. I'm going through this book right now in preparation for sending it off the the editor. It will be ready for you to enjoy early next year, but until then...


That night Sean woke to the sound of Jenny crying. It might have been a dream, but it sounded so real. “Jenny, can you hear me,” he called softly in case she was sleeping.

He felt her startled surprise as soon as he spoke. “Sean, is that you?” she said. He could hear the tears in her voice.

“What’s the matter, Jenny? Why are you crying?”

“How did you know I was crying? I’m not crying.” Then she broke down again. “I’ll never see him again. I just know it. When I kissed him goodbye the other day, I knew it would be the last time I would see him.” 

“That’s nonsense, Jenny. You know I would never let anything happen to Larry.”

“I know that. And I know he won’t let anything happen to you either. I can say the words and I can believe them with the front of my brain, but in the dark, this cold hard dread wells up from the back of my brain and I’m afraid, Sean, I’m terrified.”

“Jenny, I’d let you come along, but this is going to be one long, brutal trip.”

“I did it before, when you took off on your wild ride. We all rode real hard trying to keep up with you. Mattie should come too; she was the one who was able to keep you in our sights.”

“Mattie’s there too, isn’t she,” he said, feeling the rug being pulled out from under him.

After a short hesitation, she said, “Yeah. So isn’t Armelle; she wants to come too.” Did he detect a little humor?

“No.” Sean sat up abruptly and Charles muttered in his sleep. He had taken to sneaking onto the foot of his cot. Fortunately, he hadn’t kicked him. “I need someone there with some authority.” He knew that Elias and Ferris would be running things, but the thought of putting his little Armelle through what he was considering letting Jenny and Mattie do, was just beyond him, but Jenny was giggling now.

“Armelle has absolutely no desire to put that much time in the saddle, besides – you’re going to be a father in nine months. She says that you better be back here by then.” 

Sean flopped back down. He was going to be a father. His Armelle was pregnant. He couldn’t think. His brides were all pregnant too, but this was just – different.

“Aren’t you even going to ask what it’s going to be?” 

“I don’t care,” he said, and meant it. His wife was having his baby; He was ecstatic. Then his euphoria was dampened by the echo of an old woman’s dying words, ‘Keep these two close to you. If you send them away from you…and there will be many reasons, good reasons to send them somewhere safe, somewhere you are not… But you must keep them close to you, for if you are separated, all will be lost. You will be lost. They will be lost. Everything will fail.’ “You’re not pregnant too, are you?” asked Sean, afraid that he already knew the answer.

“What? Do you really think I could keep something like that from you?” she said incredulously.

Yes, he did, but he wasn’t about to tell her that. For all he knew, Larry had been afraid to touch her since her miscarriage. Sean was reminded that there would be a reckoning when they reached Loire. He knew that Larry hadn’t forgotten either; he had seen him gazing off south a couple times when he thought no one was looking.

“All right, I’m going to regret this, but at least you know what you’re in for; pack up and have Mattie get the white stone from Elias; I suppose we should have some kind of healer along.” He broke the connection as he felt Jenny’s excitement. He was sorry for taking Armelle’s only friends, but he figured that he would call her often to make sure that his brides weren’t giving her any more hassles.

Sean’s night was shot, so he gave up and dressed as quietly as he could. Outside, he found Cordan stoking the watch fire; he was watch commander tonight. He waved to him and walked to the edge of camp to water a bush then he checked on the sentry posts. The cloud cover was thin enough for him to pick out the lights that were the moons, but they weren’t bright enough to cast any but the vaguest shadows.

Seth had the horses picketed all around and Cordan had a half dozen men riding casually among them and another dozen walking a foot patrol outside of that. The rest of the men were sleeping under small pup tents big enough for two bodies and little else.

Just as the sun was lighting the eastern horizon, he called Jenny again. By now, he was standing by Larry’s tent. Just as he completed the connection, he felt the turmoil.

“Jenny? What’s the matter? What’s happened?”

“You happened,” she said harshly. “I thought you weren’t going to get us. What took you so long?”

“Nothing, I was just giving you time to pack a bag. Are you ready?”

“Of course we’re ready. We’ve been ready for hours.” 

“It hasn’t been ‘hours’, not very many anyway.”

“Oh, just hurry up.” 

As soon as they appeared Sean put his finger to his lips and whispered, “This is Larry’s tent. I didn’t want to startle him.”

Jenny snickered quietly behind her fingers and peeked inside then she crawled the rest of the way out of sight while Sean glowered at Hélène who had come with them.

Sean led Mattie and Hélène back to the watch fire at the center of camp. Cordan watched their approach without recognizing them until they were quite close. When he identified Mattie, he did a stunned double take then said, “What are you doing here?”

“I brought them. They had an irrefutable argument for coming,” said Sean.

Cordan looked at Mattie for a moment longer then his eyes bore holes in Sean. “You sure make it hard for a man to have a family.”

Sean turned on Mattie; his frown was in high relief in the light of the campfire. “Are you pregnant too?” he asked.

She smiled sheepishly and nodded.

“Mattie…” Sean started, but she interrupted him. “My lord, riding a horse won’t hurt the baby; it’s not due for a long time. Besides, if I start to have problems, you can always send me back.”

“I’m going to send you back right now. We aren’t on a ‘ride’. What we will be doing can only be called a pounding.”

She stepped up to him and touched his lips with her fingertips. “I’ll be fine. I won’t slow you down.”

Sean looked at Cordan. “Your decision, man,” he said, and waited for the signal for him to send her back.

He just shrugged and shook his head then he pulled her to him and gave her the kind of hug that said he missed her a lot.

Sean stepped away and almost ran into Hélène. “What are you doing here? Who’s taking care of things back at the palace?” he asked. He was more than a little peeved that she was here. Though she didn’t quite fall into his definition of ‘old’, she was no spring chicken.

“Mattie said you thought you should have a healer along.”

“I intended that to be Mattie’s reason for being here, not yours,” said Sean.

“And if you get hurt again?”

“You said yourself that you weren’t strong enough to put me down, so what’s the point? I need you at the palace to help those people get well and go home.”

“Those people are in the hands of some of the finest healers in the land and I’m the only one I know who stands a chance of ‘putting you down’ as you say it.”

“I won’t wait for you; if you can’t keep up, I’ll leave you behind and you better stay out of my way; if you’re going to be the healer here, that’s what you’ll do, nothing else.”

She shrugged then pointed to his forehead. “Where’s your crown?”

“It’s the middle of the night. Everyone’s asleep.”

“Not everyone,” she said.

“Oh give it a rest. Next you’ll be checking to see if I wear it in my bed.”

It was fortunate that the sun was rising because their shouting match was rousing the rest of the camp just in time for a quick breakfast before they hit the trail again.

Sean strode past the fire on his way to his own tent giving Cordan a meaningful look as he passed. The slightest cramp, the smallest problem, and Mattie would go back to the palace. He didn’t have time for old women or pregnant girls. Even if one of the men fell ill, they would be left behind at the closest village or farmhouse, or sent back to the palace.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the Thirteenth

Have you ever played with superstition in your stories? Whether Friday the 13th or some other superstition like walking under a ladder or crossing paths with a black cat, having a character who makes decisions based on some selection of superstitions can be rather entertaining. Have you seen the TV show Monk? That's not superstition, but the same sort of quirks must be remembered and always incorporated.

So where did the superstition about Friday the 13th come from? According to Wikipedia, it's relatively recent, but some cultures already considered Friday an unlucky day. Also 13 has it's own unlucky issues. Whereas 12 is considered the number of completeness - 12 months in a year - 12 hours on a clock - 12 gods of Olympus - 12 tribes of Israel - 12 Apostles of Jesus - 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam - 12 signs of the Zodiac - to list a few. By comparison, 13 is considered irregular - transgressing the completeness of 12.

There is even one superstition used in the Harry Potter books - I forget which book specifically and I may be off on the details, but there was a point where Harry, Dumbledore and others were sitting around a table (on Halloween even, I think - not sure though) Someone joined them making 13 around the table and everyone got all quiet and stared around. The superstition derives from the Last Supper and a Norse myth, that having 13 people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners. The Harry Potter books is the first time I had heard that particular superstition, but the mention in Wikipedia reminded me of it.

It's important to note that Friday may not be the unlucky day in your corner of the world, or in the corner of the world you're writing about, just as 13 might not be the big bad number. It's important to do your research on such things.

So tell me, have you ever included a superstition in any of your stories? Have you read any? Tell me all about it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Toxic Character

Have you ever met someone who is just plain toxic. They huddle with one or more people in their environment and whisper and speculate about events that are what they are, the decisions made by the boss or some other authority. Ultimately, they succeed in working everyone up into being angry and dissatisfied, and pretty soon everyone in the group is feeding each others dissatisfaction.

Now here's the fun part - have you ever included such a person in one of your stories? I haven't. I never thought of it before, to be honest. Then again, I generally don't write using the right kind of environment for such a character. Such a person needs a group of people to work or socialize with. They also need an authority who dictates their basic day.

Such a character needs to be dissatisfied, but not so much so that he or she is willing to quit or move on. They don't want to quite. They don't want to move on, not really. They want to be unhappy and they want company. From there, they need something to complain about. Not enough pay. Too long hours. Not enough authority or responsibility. They could do the job better. Whatever the excuse.

Such a character might do some serious stirring in your story. Give it a thought and tell me what you think. I don't believe I've ever read a story where such a character was included, not even as a background character. Have you?