As I wait for an editor to be assigned by my publisher for “Mandrean Revenge,” I turn my focus to my latest endeavor, “The Thief Master of Ravensburg.” It is a totally different book from the ones I have written so far with shades of grey separating the heroes from the villians. The storylines are complex and the protagonist is…different to be delicate. That’s what I love so much about him, though. He’s somewhat of an anti-hero. If you take Linvin Grithinshield from the other books and compare, this character is about as far away and still be called a “good guy” like Linvin as you can get. It is a fun story if you’re open to something new in the series. The secondary characters are all over the board as well. There are gnomes, elves, dwarves and humans. They represent a slew of different profiles. The antagonist is a greedy, selfish, vicious, plotting man who uses intimidation and cruelty to their greatest effect. He’s quite a foe. The book has excitement and mystery and outright brashness. I will get back to writing it now.
In the poorly lit cells of the prison, Anvar and the twins rested as Linvin sat against the wall opposite Miri and picked at the straw on the floor. For her part, Miri leaned against the far side of the same wall. She held her knees tightly to her chest and rested her head upon them.
“Do you know what I really miss seeing since I have been here?” she asked Linvin.
“There is only one thing?” Linvin answered with a laugh.
She chuckled before answering, “Alright Captain Sarcasm, you know what I mean. I miss seeing the sky. At home the sky just seemed to go forever. When there were clouds, they were always so high and distant. When the sun would set, brilliant hues of peach, yellow, red, silver and a host of other colors painted the sky like an ever-changing canvas. Every sunset was a spectacle to see. As much as I enjoyed watching them, I do not think I really appreciated their majesty until I no longer had the opportunity to view them.”
“I too have seen my share of gorgeous sunsets,” Linvin agreed. “One would think the sunrises would be as marvelous. Perhaps they were. For me, though, sunrise usually involved trepidation on my part. It often signaled the start of a march, or battle. More recently it meant the beginning of another day of a journey into the unknown.”
“That’s not a very positive way to see something so wonderful,” Miri noted.
“I suppose,” Linvin answered. “Many times it seems one’s perspective is colored by the end of the sword they see before them.”
Miri added to his thought, “Or perhaps it is colored by the fact that you see every day involving a sword?”
Linvin’s voice strengthened and he spoke with pride. “I did not choose the road I have traveled. Nor have I shirked the responsibilities given to me. Someone must hold the sword and fight so others can view sunsets. For a time I was ashamed of my past. Now I see it was simply part of my training for a greater purpose. I only hope I have the opportunity to finish my mandate.”
Miri felt guilty for her ignorant statement. She struggled to find the words to make the situation right once again. “I know we agreed not to divulge too much information in here,” she said. “Whatever your goal may be, I hope you attain it.”
Their discussion ended as the riotous noise of soldiers on the stairs interrupted. Three goblin guards came down the hallway and stopped at Miri’s cell. “On your feet, Your Highness. It is time for you to move.”
“Which level will I be going up to this time?” she asked as she pulled herself off the floor.
“Up?” asked one of the goblins. “Your time in the jails above is over. Lord Mandrean personally decreed you be handed over to Hugon for interrogation. You are going down to the Room of Horrors. If you do hold any information, you would be wise to divulge it quickly. The Sergeant has no patience and will use every means at his disposal to extract it from you.”
“I swear I don’t know any of the things you have asked about.” Miri argued as they removed her forcibly from her cell.
“Then you will die a slow, methodical, agonizing death,” the guard said. “Sometimes Hugon lets us watch when the torture really gets intense. I hope I am one of the lucky ones who gets to watch you die.”
“So here and now, Anvar, is this it? Is this what my future is meant to be? If it is, then why not let me stay with my parents? Why not let me learn from my father? Something is not right about all of this. The pieces do not fit together. With my father gone, I think there is one person who holds the answers I seek. That person is you, Anvar. To my knowledge, you have never lied to me. So I ask you again, is this the life my father wanted for me?”
Anvar puffed his pipe and said, “You are drunk, my dear nephew.”
“And you are avoiding my question!” stormed Linvin, who jumped from his chair and leaned over his uncle. “Answer me! Answer me! Is this what my father wanted?”
Anvar recalled the promise he made to Jelena. He rocked slowly while biting the end if his ~ pipe. Linvin sat down in the chair next to him and placed his head in his hands.
The rhythmic sound of Anvar’s rocking came to an abrupt halt. Anvar stroked his nephew’s hair and whispered a word in his ear, “No.”
Linvin’s head popped up and stared at his uncle. “Then what is this all about?”
Anvar returned to his rocking and puffing. After a few moments he formulated his words and spoke, “Your mother was absolutely set against your leaving. What you have been experiencing tonight is the life your mother has envisioned for you since you were born.”
“And my father’s plan?”
“I can only hope his plan died with him. It was reckless and dangerous. With any luck at all, it would never bear fruit.”
“Tell me, Anvar, what was his plan?”
“It is not for me to say,” Anvar answered slowly. “It was not my plan.”
“So what am I supposed to do?” Linvin demanded.
Anvar looked up at the sky. Only a few clouds obscured the view. At that moment, one of the clouds had hidden the moon from sight. “Look at the sky, Linvin. Tell me, is the moon out tonight?”
Linvin leaned back and took in the sky. “Yes,” he answered simply.
“How do you know?” asked Anvar. “I do not see the moon anywhere.”
“It is right there,” pointed Linvin. “There are just some clouds blocking it from view.”
“But are you sure it is there?” asked Anvar. “Prove it to me. How can you prove that the moon ~ is there?”
“Well,” Linvin said, rubbing his chin, “We can just wait here until it comes out from behind that cloud. Then you will see it.”
“So even though the answer may be there all along, I will not be able to see it until the time is right?” Anvar asked.
“Well, of course,” Linvin stated. “Unless you believe it is there all the time, then your only choice is to wait for it to reveal itself.”
“So you are telling me that I must just believe the moon is there until it appears and proves it? You seem quite confident in the outcome. How do you know that the moon will appear again?”
“I do not know,” said Linvin. “I guess it just always comes out sooner or later.”
Anvar smiled and remarked, “And so will the answer to your question, my boy. The answer is out there. What you must do is wait for it to present itself, just like your moon. Until then, you must believe the answer will appear.”
Linvin looked at the sky and rocked his chair. “And what do I do until I get my answer?”
“I would suggest giving your mother’s ideas a chance. No one said you have to get married right away. Get involved with the business. It needs you right now. I see a lot of your father in you and I think you will take to it quite well. Try things your mother’s way and get to know the woman who will always love you more than any other. Otherwise, the day will come when you will wish you had known her better. Besides, there is more to do around here than wait for the moon to poke through some clouds.”
Linvin took his advice to heart. He was anxious to learn the family business and succeed his father. For the time being, he would be patient.
Well fans I have good news. Solstice Publishing, (the publisher of my first two books) has picked up the option on my third book, “Mandrean Revenge.” They will republish it in the Solstice family of books. I’ve spent the last two days looking through possible cover options. There were so many to choose from but I managed to narrow it down to a few for my publisher to choose from. It’s exciting to go through this book again. For those of you not familiar with the story, I will give you a teaser. At the end of “The Sapphire Crucible,” Linvin had killed Lord Mandrean; or so he thought! Mandrean survived the encounter and in his convalescence, stoked his fires of hatred for his half-elf enemy. Two years have gone by and he finally has a plan. He orders his evil Necromancer to kidnap Linvin’s best friend and uncle, Anvar. Then the ultimatum is laid out. Either Linvin surrenders to the Mandreans to be executed before the first frost or his uncle takes his place. Seeing little choice, Linvin sets off for the Mandrean Empire. Little does he know of the troubles he will encounter upon the way. That’s all for today my fans. Enticing, isn’t it? I can tell you there are some turns you won’t see coming. It’s a fun read. You’ll have access to it soon
Writing is my passion. Since I was a young child and wrote my first short story, I’ve known I wanted to be a writer. When you grow up you find it’s not so simple. You have agents, publishers, editors, graphic designers not to mention everyday life getting in the way of that passion. Then you have the job that pays the bills which sucks your energy. Suddenly that passion is very, very difficult to find time for. That’s what makes it so wonderful when you finally find time to write. You close the door to your office. Ignore the scratching sound of the dog trying to get in. Ignore the fighting kids in the living room. Ignore the cars going by outside and the Facebook updates on your phone. Just settle in with a glass of water and read where you left off. Then the magic happens. It’s like a wave of happiness washing over me. For that moment, time stands still and the world stops turning. I wish everyone could experience this sensation. Maybe they do in their own way in their own job. A doctor saving a patient may feel that sublime feeling. On a smaller scale, perhaps a barista makes a perfect Frappuccino for someone. Maybe an architect draws the perfect blueprint. The point is, it is possible to get a feeling like this in your job if you achieve something you love doing. Find that sweet spot in your work and you will be a happier person.
It’s the 4th of July once again and time to celebrate the birth of our nation. It has its faults but I would rather live here than anywhere else. I grew up mostly in Canada and was lucky to do so. There are so many other countries not as great as Canada where I could have lived. Even with all the greatness of Canada, I always saw myself as an American living abroad. When college came around there was no doubt I was headed home to the USA. It’s not perfect but it is my home. To all the critics of America I put to you, if America is so bad then why do immigrants keep trying to get in here? I’m not calling anyone out but its America’s birthday and we’ve taken some lumps around the world in the last few years. It’s time to sing the praises of this wondrous land. It’s true you can be anything you want here. If you have the right idea, plan and execution, you can be successful. There are so many freedoms here but we can’t celebrate them without remembering the men and women who fought on behalf of those freedoms. From Bunker Hill to the moonscape fields of Afghanistan, Americans are defending those values for Americans everywhere. It is because of them that I can relax on my day off and grill out. Thank you for your service, all of you. Thank you, America, for giving me my opportunities. Happy 4th of July
Suddenly there was a crack from a whip causing Linvin to drop the knife and grab his hand in order to try to stop the bleeding from the fresh wound. In a moment, Hugon stood before their cage.
“Don’t try to grow brains in here, Boy. There is no escape from my dungeon. Even a stupid half-breed like you should be able to figure that out.”
Linvin clenched the bars with his bloody fist and stared Hugon in the eyes. “Your time is coming, Ogre. When I find my way out of here you will wish you had killed me.”
Linvin believed Hugon was ready to respond but apparently noticed something cold and piercing in Linvin’s eyes. The half-elf’s expression seemed to terrify him. Linvin could tell in Hugon’s cowardly heart he felt the sincerity of the prisoner’s words and despaired. In what Linvin viewed as a clear attempt to hide his weakness he punched Linvin in the face with all his strength. Linvin held onto the bars in order to retain his balance. It was a crushing blow. Other than a wince, however, Linvin retained the same expression.
Stepping back, Hugon readied his whip. “I’ll teach you not to look at me.”
Linvin calmly stepped away from the bars and sat in the middle of the cell with his legs crossed. Hugon cracked the whip but it only caught on the bars.
“Trouble?” Linvin asked sarcastically. “You know if you grew a brain out there you might have realized the bars were too narrow for the whip to penetrate. I guess the joke is on you.”
Hugon’s fury made his body shake. “You will die for this,” he said under his breath. “Magician or no Magician.”
Linvin stood and laughed at the giant. “You are incapable of killing me, you pathetic blob of dough. You and your entire breed are utterly worthless. Do shuffle back to your little desk like a good slave.”
The Jailor had heard enough. Hugon reached for his keys and sifted through them quickly to find the right one.
Meanwhile Bander and Rander caught on to Linvin’s ploy and moved to the two sides of the cage.
Hugon found the key and headed for the door. Just as he reached it the loud sound of armor was heard coming up the stairs. It was the guards returning with the slaves. Seeing them enter, Hugon put the keys away and said, “The day will come when that pint-sized sorcerer won’t need you any longer. Then I’ll peel the flesh from your broken bones so slowly that you’ll wish I would just end it, Boy.”
“Until that day,” Linvin responded. “Do try to show us a little more courtesy. I would hate for Necromancer to incinerate you before we meet again.”
The Great Goblin turned and headed down the stairs. The ploy had been successful, but only in making Hugon more determined to kill Linvin.
“Jelena was miserable and felt alone. After over three years of near constant travel, Dirk came home one day and her misery finally dawned on him. He decided right then that his family would want for nothing. With his profits from the company, he purchased the biggest house in the most elite neighborhood he could possibly afford. And although the fence was small, he made certain that the gate was huge.
Linvin just stared at the gate. “That’s how we came to have the gate and this house,” he added.
“Your father did not stop there. He knew that society may have accepted him, but was still quite cold about his marriage to an elf. Jelena would not even go to social events, because of the disdain the bluebloods showed for her. Dirk would not stand for the treatment of his wife. He resolved that society in this town would revolve around his family, not the other way around. If people wanted his friendship and thereby his business, they would not only need to accept his wife but embrace her as one of their own as well.
“After you were sent away, Grithinshield Manor became Grithinshield Mansion and anyone who wanted to do business in this town, or this country for that matter, was required to bow to your mother as a noble woman of the highest rank and pay her homage.
“So you see, my boy, your mother only wanted to be a housewife and mother, then her son was sent away. After that, her home became the center of society. Now Dirk is gone and her son has come home to despise the life which she has been left to lead. She is alone, but surrounded at the same time. This is her chance to make the pretentious snobs of Fraylic acknowledge her as they did when Dirk was here.”
“I never said I despised anything,” Linvin defended.
“Your mother is no fool, Linvin. She is downstairs bewildered, lost and feeling quite alone at a moment when there should be jubilation in this house.”
Linvin hung his head until it contacted the sill of the window.
“How do you feel now?” asked Anvar as he drew on his pipe.
“Keep going,” Anvar urged.
“Like an ungrateful son.”
“You’re almost there,” urged Anvar.
“Like I should shut my mouth, go give her a hug and go along with her plan.”
“I think you’ve finally got the picture. Just make sure you do it in time to bathe before the tailors arrive.”
Linvin headed for the door and stopped a moment. “Those bath attendants mother mentioned, they wouldn’t happen to be female, would they?”
“Go!” ordered Anvar as he pointed to the door, “And have the good sense not to ask your mother that question. Remember, she still sees you as her twelve-year-old son. The carousel of possible brides she created for tonight was hard enough for her to handle.”
“You used to be more fun,” Linvin said as he exited the door.
Anvar once again drew on his pipe and then quietly murmured, “Times used to be much simpler.”
Do you remember art class in grammar school? Whenever a holiday would come up like Mother’s Day you’d make a special gift I was particularly proud of a bracelet made from a wide masking tape cardboard dispenser. Starting with that basic roll, I glued red velvet right down the center of it. I even measured and made marks all along the way just to make sure I stayed in the middle. Not satisfied with coloring I put glue along the edges and then poured silver glitter over it. For the final touch, I glued small plastic flower buds to the velvet. I was proud. On Mother’s Day I gave it to her and (being my mother) she loved it. She wore it all day but then the flowers started to fall off and the glitter started to get everywhere. So she put it in her jewelry box where it stayed until it was found again in the same spot after her death while going through her things. The point of all this is that building characters is a very similar process. First you have a basic character. There’s nothing special about them and have no noticeable attributes. Then you choose a sex for them. Let’s say female. Now she needs a name. The name has to fit the person you want her to be. This can take hours. Now think of your story and how she fits into it. Write down on a piece of paper the characteristics you want this woman to have. Then look at your story board and find places you can display those traits. If she’s a minor character you’re done. It’s just like the bracelet. It was perfect when it was first put together. If you want to keep the woman around, however, you will have to make some subtle changes to keep the reader interested. It is the same as how the bracelet changed the more it was used. When Mom wanted the changes to stop, she took it out of service. For example, if the woman is really mean all the time, then have her do something nice once or twice. Think of the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” and how Amanda is so vicious throughout the movie and then gives Andy a recommendation on a job at the end. This is character development. People want to see main characters evolve. They don’t have to completely change but something has to in order to keep your audience on their toes. It’s fun to make subtle changes. As a writer, it can get boring writing the same character the same way all of the time. Have fun with it.
I tell you my youngest daughter (16) is going to grow up to be a litigator. She has wanted her own dog for the last 5 years. We already have a Dachshund but the little thing is bound to my wife and shows little love to anyone else. My daughter wants a dog to love HER. It has been at the top of every Christmas list and Birthday Present list for 5 years. We keep saying no because we already have a dog that was left with us by our son. I wasn’t too happy about that. I like dogs. I just want to choose one when I want. Finally, by Father’s Day my daughter had found a 7-month-old German Shepherd at the Animal Rescue. She had gotten everyone else in the family on board with this dog except me. So here I am getting home from work on my big day and this bomb is dropped on me. In truth, I’m not a huge German Shepherd fan. I like more Golden Retrievers and Beagles. I was shown the picture of the shepherd and told all the stories including the promises that my daughter would take care of it. My daughter argued like she was trying to win a case and in the end, she did. I couldn’t object any longer. It even occurred to me that this would be good for her. So, I gave it my blessing. All that was left was for the two dogs to meet the next day which seemed like a formality. I went to work and came home expecting to see a cute 60 pound German Shepard waiting for me. The dog wasn’t there. When I asked what happened she said our Dachshund wouldn’t turn and let the Shepherd sniff its butt. That showed aggressive behavior and therefore we were disqualified from adopting it. If I were a dog I wouldn’t let some strange dog sniff my butt either. As for aggressive behavior, he weighs 10 pounds! What’s he going to do to a big dog like that? Apparently, there was no point in arguing. The decision had been made by the Humane Society and we couldn’t adopt. What’s the point of all this? Sometimes you have to let your pride take a hit in order to get what you want. Even if that means someone sniffing your butt.
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...