I’m feeling old. Half the uses of my phone, I have no idea how to use. It’s even worse on my computer. ¾ of the features of the uses on it confound me. I borrowed a friend’s Volkswagen once and it started raining. I couldn’t find the control for the windshield wipers so I started pressing buttons. They finally came on during this hot June day. I had the air conditioning on full blast yet I was sweating to death. I drove around all day like that. When I returned the car, I left it running and told my friend there must be something wrong with the air conditioner because I was soaked. He sat in the driver’s seat and said, “You do know you have the heated car seats on, don’t you?” I felt like an idiot. It was not always like this. In grammar school, we used the latest Commodore Computers. We learned Basic language and programing. Now kids are taught the newest versions of windows in school. They do projects on PowerPoint, accounting on Excel and a host of new programs they can download but I won’t because I’m scared of getting a virus. Yes, I went from knowing technology to being outdated in a few years. My father went through the same thing. He designed hi-fi sets for Zenith. Then he became an advertiser followed by editor and technical writer. He would go into the nuclear reactors and talked to the scientists about how they worked. Then he would write it in a way lesser scientists could understand. Even he was left behind by technology. But fear not, those who identify with me, my children who make fun of me now will be left behind too one day by their own children. Then they will be the ones laughed at. Tale solace in that.
I did something wrong. I should have followed the rules but I was in a grove and just went with it. By the time I stopped I had a mess on my hands that took longer to fix than to create the mess in the first place. Yes, I am talking about writing. I was working on my 5th book yesterday and I had the creative juices flowing. Everything was written as fast as I could type. I felt glorious like I was writing my first story. Then I had to refer to a character and I couldn’t remember his name. So I went back through the manuscript, not seeing the scene with character in it. “I know I wrote it,” I said. “I’m sure I wrote it. Did I write it? Oh no, it’s not here. I didn’t write it!” Then I looked at my outline and there it was. The problem was I was so far off the story line I could not just add it as I had planned. I thought of all the times I had told writers to stick to their outline. It has served me well in the past. Then I go and totally ignore it for a section. I was left with two choices. Either I could erase what I had written since the point where I went off script and rewrite it with the proper section. (For the record, no author likes to delete their work. It’s like giving away your baby.) Or I could try to find a point to try to fit in the new section into the story. I chose the second option. Then I searched and searched line by line to find a place to enter my scene. After a little adjusting before and after the opening it was time for the scene to be written. It took me 3 hour to add the section but it taught me a lesson. I wrote a detailed outline for a reason. If I stick to it the story will come along fine. To my fans remember, always follow your outline.
Between the cells were thick stonewalls that prevented prisoners from seeing each other. They did not, however, deafen sound. The girl cried as she lay on the floor. It was a painful, sorrowful sound.
Linvin sat on the other side of the wall trying to think of something to say. His usual greetings seemed wrong at that moment. At last he managed, “Are you hurt?” The sobbing continued. “Miss,” he called out louder, “Are you injured?”
The crying reduced and was interrupted occasionally by a sniffle. “It’s nothing that won’t heal,” she said meekly. “But it doesn’t matter. I will never leave these walls alive.”
Linvin moved closer to the bars by the wall. “My name is Linvin. What is yours?”
There was silence for a few moments and then one soft, beautiful word was spoken in return. “Mirianna,” she replied.
“You seem a little out of place here,” Linvin said.
“Everyone in this tower is out of place,” she answered indignantly. “I suspect that was their purpose in building it. You don’t sound like the usual criminals they bring in here. There must be a different reason you have checked in to this establishment.”
“I have no idea why we are here.” Linvin answered.
“Sure you do,” Mirianna said. “Everyone knows why they’re here. Some people just don’t want to admit the answer.”
Linvin was caught off guard by her banter. He tried to refocus on her. “Well then, why are you here?” he asked.
Her tone immediately changed. “So that’s your game, is it? They bring me down here and think I will tell you everything just by asking? Nice try Spy. I am wise to you. You can tell that red-eyed sorcerer you work for I have no knowledge of my country’s defenses. You can also tell him if I did know anything, I would never tell him or any of his agents.”
Linvin was stunned by the accusation. “Mirianna, you are mistaken. I am no spy. My kin and I are prisoners just like you.”
Mirianna snapped back. “That is just what a spy would say.”
Linvin sighed. “If I were a spy then why would they put three other people in here with me? Would it not be wiser to have a single person here to whom you could confess?”
Mirianna was silent for a moment and then began to cry once again. “I don’t know what to believe anymore. They have tried so many tricks to make me betray my country. I am just so tired.”
Linvin sighed and thumped the back of his head against the wall. “How about this,” he proposed. “I am not a spy and have no use for any information about whatever country you are from. Since, however, I cannot say what can be heard by others in this place, perhaps we could talk without either of us revealing anything our jailors do not already know.”
After more time Mirianna agreed. “You start,” she told Linvin in a quiet voice from just the other side of the wall.
“Well,” said Linvin as he thought. “My uncle, cousins and I were traveling through the Unclaimed Territory and were caught trying to cross the Mystic River into the Mandrean Empire.”
“Why would you want to come here?” Mirianna asked. “Do you work for them?”
Linvin grew angry. “If I worked for them I would not be in this jail, would I? I thought you were not going to ask me such questions.”
“Do they have any idea why you are here?” Mirianna asked in a softer tone.
Linvin ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “I have no idea what they know or do not know. They have asked us no questions.”
Mirianna was surprised. “Do you mean they have not interrogated you at all?”
“That is correct,” Linvin stated. “We are clueless about their intentions. Why are you here?”
Mirianna put her head on her knees and let her hair cover her face. “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was ignorant and now what days I have left are at the mercy of these beasts and their masters.”
“Do you have food?” Linvin asked.
“They give me Goblin Biscuits from time to time.”
Linvin took a loaf of bread and stretched it through the closest gap in the bars. “Here,” he said, “Take this. We have plenty of food.”
She paused at the sight of the loaf. “Is this some sort of trick?”
“Yes,” Linvin said sarcastically but with a smile. “I am tricking you into eating bread. Call the guard!”
He changed his voice back to a more pleasing tone. “Look, my arm is growing tired. Either take the bread or leave it on the ground. I was only trying to help. Remember I do not want to know any secrets from you. That is unless you would like to tell us a secret way out of here.”
Mirianna laughed as she wiped her tears. Linvin grinned and added, “What, no snappy retort? How disappointing.”
He didn’t know how long he slept but a grunting sound awakened him. His sleepy eyes opened to see two wild boars below him, digging in the ground for food. There was what he presumed to be a male and a female. Using their sharp tusks they foraged, unaware of Linvin’s presence.
What luck! Linvin thought with excitement. One of the thick beasts could feed his party for some time. Linvin then realized there was bad news as well. While he had been asleep, he had dropped his bow and arrow. They lay not far below him on the ground. He did not dare get down to retrieve them. Once the element of surprise was lost, his chances of slaying one of the beasts were next to none.
Linvin lay forward on the branch and grabbed for his bow. It was still out of reach. Linvin did not want the opportunity to pass, so he took a risk. The bow was not that far out of his grip. He decided the best thing to do would be to lock his legs around the tree limb and hang down in order to retrieve his weapon.
Crossing one foot firmly over the other, he straddled the branch and turned upside down. There was one simple flaw in Linvin’s hastily conceived plan. When his head went down, all the arrows in the quiver on his shoulder fell out onto the ground. They made a loud noise as they crashed down.
The boars’ heads popped up from their digging and saw Linvin hanging upside down from the tree. The female turned and bolted for cover. The male reacted in a very territorial manner. He may have been protecting her or his area, but either way, he was enraged. Snorting violently, he charged the intruder.
Linvin was caught off guard. He had to act quickly. Grabbing the bow and an arrow from the ground, he tried to get a bead on the rushing boar. Linvin had never tried to shoot from such a position before but had no choice. Taking quick aim, he drew and loosed the arrow.
Due to the odd angle, the arrow took an arc toward the ground. Luckily, the boar was close enough that the arrow hit him in the shoulder on its downward curve. For a moment, the beast staggered. Then fury took hold of him once more. Screeching wildly, he moved in on Linvin. With a swipe of his head, he knocked Linvin to the ground. Not wasting any time, he tore his tusks into Linvin’s chest.
Linvin was being shoved around like a ball. His great mass was easily thrown by the stout foe. Every time Linvin tried to move out of the way, the boar seized hold of him again.
After literally being thrown several paces, Linvin’s hand came to rest on a loose rock slightly larger than a grapefruit. When the boar came at him, Linvin smashed the rock down on its head. Again, the beast staggered.
Taking the initiative, Linvin used both hands and cracked it on the skull again and again. Blood poured from the wound as Linvin continued to pound with all his might. At last, the pig moved no more. Its skull was crushed.
Linvin pulled the dagger out of his boot and slit its throat to let the blood drain and prevent the meat from bruising. Then he fell back onto the ground and assessed the injuries he had taken. Aside from a deep laceration on his chest, his wounds were mostly cuts and bruises.
Regaining his feet, Linvin gathered his bow and arrows. He was glad no one was around to see how badly he had misjudged the situation. After transferring his old bandages from his ribs to his fresh wounds, Linvin set about bringing his prize back to camp.
It is another brilliant spring day here in Nebraska. The grass is growing, the birds are chirping, if I had a tree it would be budding (see old blogs.) But as a dutiful writer I am indoors at my computer. That’s really the point of today’s blog. You need to write regularly. The more often you write, the better quality the product will be you produce. With some people need to write every day. Others can go every other day. Still other people only need to write a couple times a week. The point is finding the happy spot for you and staying within it. If you’re an every other day person and you make it every other week, you have to spend time first figuring out where you left off and then trying to recall which way you want to take the story. What’s worse, you may have written to the end of your thought earlier. This is a big no-no. In the words of Ernest Hemmingway, “When you stop writing for the day always do so when you still have something to write. That way the next day you have a place to start.” It works. Otherwise, if you write to the end of a thought, you have to come up with a whole new starting point in your story and that’s never fun. You don’t have to write a lot when you do take to the keyboard. It could be as little as a couple of paragraphs if that’s all you have time for or that’s all you feel like writing this day. The point is you wrote something to keep those creating juices flowing. It is hard to walk away from a project and then return with the same ideas you had before. Creative ideas are the most fleeting which is why they need to be written down quickly. So identify the type of writer you are and set a schedule to write. You’ll find your work will be better in the end.
On Saturday I had the privilege to be interviewed by an international radio station. Here is that interview for your enjoyment.
On the second level were cells in good condition with straw on their floors. Though the stairs continued up they were staying where they were. The bewildered elves were carried past several cages and halted by one at the end of the hall. A large cell door was opened and the party was gently laid on the straw. Necromancer supervised the action. He ordered the shackles removed from all but Anvar. Then the door was closed and locked.
He stepped over to the bars and looked closely. “Yes,” he said, “You shall do rather nicely I should think. Guard. Bring the food I had prepared for them. Also bring the Imperial Physicians. Their strength must return.” The guard paused as if to ask a question and then saw Necromancer’s eyes begin to glow with greater ferocity.
“Right away Sir,” he said as he hurried down the stairs.
Linvin rolled over and looked at the strange man at the other side of the gate. There was something very cold and wrong about Necromancer and yet he saved their lives. Linvin collected himself and spoke. “Are you our friend?” he asked.
“No,” Necromancer answered without hesitation. “As insignificant as you are, you are a means to an end for me. Besides, I have no friends. To be someone’s friend you must see them as being equal to yourself...and no one in this world comes even close”
Linvin was confused by his host’s actions but tried not to give much away. “What do you want with my house-key?”
Necromancer laughed. “Come now, Grithinshield. You and I both know it is not your house-key. Even if it was, I doubt locking your door would have kept them out.”
“Kept who out?” asked Linvin.
“Do not play coy with me, Little Flea. You know about whom I speak and you know why I need this key.” Then he paused and thought as he looked at Linvin’s inquisitive expression. “Perhaps you don’t know why the key is important? Do you know what it opens?”
Linvin looked at Anvar. His uncle looked as lost as Linvin.
Necromancer placed his arms on his knees and asked chidingly, “Would you like me to tell you the answer?”
“Yes,” replied Linvin.
“I am sure you would,” Necromancer laughed. “Perhaps I overestimated you. No matter. With any luck I will not need you. All the same, get some rest. You may be in need of your strength before all is finished. We want to be prepared.” Necromancer turned to leave.
“Why are you doing this?” pleaded Linvin.
Necromancer did not break stride and continued to head for the stairs. “I grow tired of filling in the gaps in your knowledge. Try putting the pieces together. Maybe you will surprise me when I see you next. I doubt it but you might. After all, I never thought you would get this far.” He descended the stairs and left the elves alone.
“I can see that,” Linvin said while still staring at the pile. “Before we talk business, no one has given me any straight answers about father’s last trip. Please tell me what happened.”
“As with all things, Linvin, I can only tell you what I know. Dirk made all the deals with all our suppliers, and the whole business was too complicated for me. For that reason, I never really paid much attention to his dealings. Then, right about the time he sent you away, I noticed a change in him. He had the same passion for the business that had made it successful, but he began to have meetings with parties who were…well…of questionable character. The meetings were always private and often involved him taking a trip. It seemed like he was looking for something specific. I really thought little of it at the time, but now it gives me reason to wonder about the nature of the meetings and the trips.”
“One day, he emerged from one of those unusual meetings almost giddy. He acted as though he had just received a birthday present. I will never forget what he said to me. He shook me by the shoulder and said, ‘My good friend, this is it! I must go to Ravensburg with all due haste on a trading mission, and when it is all over, then my son can come home!’ He gathered some supplies and left. That was the last time I saw my old friend.”
“Father was headed to Ravensburg? Mother mentioned that in her letter. He must have traveled through the Unclaimed Territory,” Linvin said with horror.
“He did not seem to want to waste time, and that is easily the fastest route,” Gradon stated.
“But since the war, has that area not become unsafe?” asked Linvin.
“It has indeed,” Gradon answered. “It is overrun with bandits and exiles. That is the reason the trade routes all moved south to travel through Sartan.”
Linvin sipped his tea. “So he went with a trading caravan, I suppose?”
“Surprisingly, he went alone,” sighed Gradon.
“That is absurd!” Linvin swore while putting down his cup. “What was he thinking? Even in the best parts of the world, traders move in caravans to ward off thieves. How could he go alone into such an area? He was smarter than that.”
“It would seem,” Gradon surmised, “that he did not want anyone to know what he was doing. Forgive me for saying this, Linvin, I hate to even think it, but given the nature of the people he was dealing with, it is not implausible that his intentions were not…honorable.”
Linvin’s eyes widened and his nostrils flared as he leaned forward. “Are you implying that my father was involved in some unsavory, illegal activity?”
“Certainly I don’t believe that,” retreated Gradon. “However, many in town have whispered such things in the darkest of places, and those words have spread throughout the city.I would rather that you heard it from me first, rather than coming upon it from someone else.”
Linvin tried to contain his fury. “Is this why the societal crowd shunned my mother before last night?”
“Such people are fickle, Linvin, and are really of no consequence to you and yours.”
“No?” Linvin demanded.
Gradon sipped his tea with a quivering hand. The cup chattered as he placed it on the saucer.
“That may indeed be one of the reasons. Being an elf alone in this town does not help matters either.”
Linvin thought of the gala the night before and imagined what the guests might have been thinking. He simmered quietly.
“Know this, Linvin. No one who would ever have called Dirk Grithinshield a ‘friend’ would believe such baseless accusations.”
The wind is whistling through the tiny gaps in the windows with the sound of a conductor’s whistle on a train. The pitter patter of rain outside is causing the sump pump to run every few minutes. On the road out front cars drive the speed limit through the waterlogged street and send a shower of water pluming out each side. So goes a rainy day in Nebraska. My mother took delight in rain storms and I suppose my enjoyment of them comes from her. When I was a child we would snuggle up under blankets in front of a log fire of cedar. She made hot tea and biscuits. We would watch the lightning and then count how many seconds until the thunder came so we knew how many miles away it was. It was fun. Years later we lived right on Lake Erie. To be precise, we lived about 20 feet away from the break wall. When storms came up the lake became fierce. We were out on a covered, screened porch and watched the waves come in. When it was a big wave we braced as the entire house shook from the water hitting the break wall. Once in a while the waves were so strong, the water would penetrate the screen and get us wet. We saw logs, deck equipment and small boats pass us by. So when I see a day like today, I think about those days and smile. A storm is only a storm if you’re told it is.
Publishing is a cutthroat business. That lesson was brought home to me when the publisher of my last two books informed me they were going out of business on the 31st of this month. They said they could not compete with the rising costs of the business and competing in the marketplace. It tells you how much competition there is even in publishing. Right now a lot of the smaller companies are closing their doors and the big ones are scaling back. As for me, I’m not worried. I will find another publisher to pick up those books. That’s what I have an agent for. I will come out of this alright. It will just take time. So if you were waiting to buy one of the last two books, you will have to wait a while longer. Check back for updates.
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...