I have a niece who is incredibly intelligent and skilled. She can do anything on a TV or movie set behind the scenes or even behind the camera. She has the right education and degree but unfortunately went to school up at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. It is a fine school in a fine city. However, if you are looking for movie making or television broadcasting, there is little in the way of work. That led her to Toronto in hopes of catching on in their robust film industry. Why am I telling you this? There are a lot of young authors out there who have felt like they were beating their heads against a wall in their attempts to become published. I went through the same thing having my first book published. It took a year and a half. My niece doesn’t give up because she knows she has talent and only needs a chance. That’s why I never gave up either. And if you’re one of those frustrated writers out there, take heart. Everyone gets turned down. Just keep refining your work and take any constructive feedback as a way to improve yourself. Mind you, don’t let one crack pot editor ruin your dreams. If you know deep in your heart that it is good, there is a publisher out there who will too. I still see indi-publishing as a last resort. Some people swear by it while others swear at it. All I can say is if you do it, do your homework first. It’s a lot of work. In the end, keep your chin up and if you can get an agent it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Let me start by proclaiming that I am not an animal hater. Now that I have said that, all voles must die! I didn’t misspell and mean moles. No, I mean voles. They are like mice without the long tail. We have a concrete porch off the back of our house. The voles dug under it and made a large hollow area which was making the concrete above crack from lack of support. The first problem was finding an exterminator. They would ask, “Do you have termites?” “No” “Do you have spiders?” “No” “How about an ant infestation?” “No. I have voles!” “Did you say moles?” “No voles.” “We don’t treat for those, sorry” I must have called 10 places until I found one that would treat for them. It was $150 per treatment. They needed a treatment every week until they were gone. The problem was they were never gone. Finally, the day came when the concrete repair man arrived. He pumped an expanding foam under the cement which filled the gap, raised the area and solidified into an inedible and virtually indestructible base. That was $1200. All this happened a couple of years ago. Now those nasty little creatures are back. They even took up residence in my gas barbeque. We didn’t know until we lit it up and burning voles started running everywhere. Now they’re digging under a different part of the slab. I fear we’re going to go through the whole exercise again. As I said at the start; all voles must die!
“Fine,” agreed Mandrean. “I shall consider it. Now let us move on to my agenda for the day.”
Fendri produced a scroll from his vest pocket and opened it meticulously. “Today you have your semi-annual meeting with the Supreme Commanders of the Imperial Forces. They will be assembling in court shortly.”
“Good,” Mandrean barked. “They had better produce sound reasons why their territories are in such disarray.”
“Remember to mind your temper this time,” Fendri noted. “You rule through them. It is their cooperation that makes the empire run effectively. Scolding them will build no allegiance. It could even lead to rebellion.”
“Why do you think I lose my temper?” Mandrean asked rhetorically. “Because they are incompetent. I will restrain nothing. If their progress is not satisfactory, they will be lucky to escape with a scolding. This is no side-street cart I am running. This is the most powerful empire in the world. To run it I need strong leaders. If they do not produce the results I desire, the Empire will move forward over their bones. I need results, not excuses.”
“They are closer to the people than you,” Fendri pointed out looking farther down the scroll.
“The people are timid like sheep. They only need a strong shepherd to be kept in line. They will follow their Emperor. I have no doubt.”
Fendri smiled as he looked up from the parchment. “Well there is some good news from Lord Necromancer.”
Mandrean showed immediate excitement and ran over to Fendri. “What news?”
Fendri read from the scroll. “Great Lord Mandrean, it is my great pleasure to inform you my agents have just apprehended Linvin Grithinshield and his entourage. I have taken possession of the key and will deliver it to you in court today so all may see your prize. To satisfy your curiosity I will have the Grithinshield party there to bear witness to you magnificent accomplishment. Long live the Emperor.”
Mandrean screamed with excitement. “At last he has come through with the key. I told you he would produce it for me. You always doubt Necromancer’s sincerity. Now you see he is loyal to his master. He has no choice.”
Fendri retained his composure during the jubilation. “I am truly thankful he has produced what you sought. That does not mean I trust him.”
Mandrean clutched his friend’s shoulder and shook him in a brotherly manner. “You worry like an old woman. Necromancer cannot harm me and is totally obedient. Sometimes I think I keep you around so you can do my worrying for me.”
“That may be, Manenvious, but I am also the only person who will always give you the straight truth.”
“From your point of view,” Mandrean corrected.
“That would be the only viewpoint I would have, Old Friend. Perhaps I do worry for no reason. If, however, I am right, you could be in danger. Necromancer is not a person to be taken lightly. The Supreme Commanders hold considerable power. You must keep your wits about you.”
“Soon none of that will matter,” Mandrean said in great anticipation. “After today, no one will dare challenge me.”
“Then I shall send for your wardrobe assistants to help you dress,” Fendri said as he resumed his rigid stance. “You must look your best today.”
“See to it at once,” Mandrean ordered. As Fendri turned to leave Mandrean added, “Remember to send the orders for the boy.”
Mandrean saw that Fendri stopped halfway down the stairs and turned to look at his master. Mandrean looked indignant. Fendri sighed and answered, “As you command, My Lord.” With that, he left the room and went to summon the house staff.
“Usually goblins use what they can find. The Marsh Goblins preferred sickle-swords, which doubled as tools to navigate the swamps. In battle, they struck with slashing motions. Even so, they still scavenged for weapons.”
“These goblins, however, have well-crafted short, straight blades, all of the same type. They are not so dissimilar from the ones my infantry in Valia carried. The weapon is best used to stab or slash an opponent.”
Bander had listened carefully but was having trouble connecting the pieces. “So that means these goblins make better armor and weapons?” he asked in the hope that he had understood. Anvar dashed his hopes quickly.
“No, my nephew,” his uncle said. “I see what Linvin is saying. Those goblins were Cangons. They do not possess the manual dexterity needed to make that armor, nor do they possess the smelting ability or materials to make such a blade.”
“Perhaps they looted the items on some sort of raid?” Rander suggested.
Linvin rubbed his chin and paced. “Plausible, but unlikely,” he said. “They would have had to take them from other goblins with the same body types. Even if your theory were correct, Rander, how would the slain goblins have come into possession of these items?”
“Is it possible that they purchased the armaments?” Linvin suggested.
Anvar made a swift counterpoint. “No. The Cangons are by far the poorest of the Goblin Nations. They are overpopulated and cannot even afford to feed themselves. How would they ever afford weapons like these?”
When no more suggestions were forthcoming, Rander asked another question that took the discussion in another direction. “What were they doing here anyway?”
“Well,” Linvin answered. “From the looks of their water skins, I would say they were short on supplies.”
“You misunderstand,” Rander explained, “we are still quite far from the Goblin Nations. There is a nearly impassable mountain range and the Mandrean Empire between them and the Territory. What were they doing so far south in the first place?”
An eerie silence fell upon the group as they pondered the question. Then Bander spoke, “I wish one was still alive to question. I wouldn’t mind giving back some of what I got!”
“Whatever their reason for being here,” Linvin decided, “they were not in the territory by chance. Someone outfitted them and sent them here.”
“Who equipped them and to what end?” Rander questioned.
“That, cousin, is an answer they took with them to the afterlife, but I have a feeling that whoever sent them here is eventually going to notice that they are missing and not be pleased.”
It all begins with a seed in the ground. That symbolizes the initial idea for a story. When the seed grows into a sapling that is the advance of the story in your mind with the fragile branches being characters you want to use. As the trunk thickens and the branches extend becoming stronger the story takes on complex issues and the characters develop. As the tree grows to maturity the story does as well. It advances and finally is full grown. The branches have reached their extent and the characters are fully developed. Leaves are the parts that connect the two. There you have it. A brand-new story. Making it in your mind is the easy part. Writing it as a book is what’s difficult. Just like I have great respect for farmers, I also have great respect for other writers. Whether you’re reading the greatest book in the world or the worst, someone labored long and hard to create that book and that alone is worth admiration. So next time you read a book, or watch a TV show or movie, think of all the work that went into bringing that to you.
As many of you know I use an outline or script if you will to write my books. But sometimes, infrequently, I come up with an idea and go off script. It happens when I have an idea that is so good that it simply must be part of the story. The problem is like having a long piece of licorice. If you want to insert another piece how do you it and still have a solid piece of licorice? That’s what it’s like as a writer adding to a story that has already been laid out. You scour the story and look for a place to insert the piece. In my particular case, the addition is a person. That means introducing her and writing her in at various parts of the story. That’s a lot of splicing licorice. This gives ammunition to the people who say not to write an outline at all. I respect them and their opinions. For me, however, every time I try that, I always leave out an important detail. Then I have to go back and fit it in. I don’t know how others write on the fly. It is a gift I simply don’t possess. I currently have a great idea. Now I’m standing at the long rope licorice with a razor blade asking if I really want to chop up perfect piece or let it be. It’s a tormenting decision.
Mandrean sipped his wine and looked out the window. Without looking at Fendri, he spoke to the man. “We are alone now. Speak your mind.”
Fendri resumed cleaning the mess on the floor. “I have no opinion fit to give, My Master.”
Mandrean walked over and held out his hand. Helping Fendri to his feet he said, “I believe that about as much as I believe the rubbish Betrimpia was spewing.”
Fendri let out a slight laugh and set down the tray. Then he sat on an accent chair and nibbled at some bacon from breakfast. “I have known you my entire life. We were childhood friends. Our fathers were friends. We were schooled together. In the army I served as your Weapon’s Bearer and guarded your back on many campaigns. Now I run your personal affairs and your household with the utmost discretion.”
“These things I know, Old Friend,” Mandrean concurred. “What point are you making?”
Fendri threw the bacon aside and walked briskly to the emperor. “My point is I know you better than anyone. Yet even I cannot understand why you allow that woman to continue to waste the air other people could be breathing. She is a devious, manipulative shrew.”
“She was my first concubine,” Mandrean said firmly.
“She brings nothing but distress to your house. You have never been a sentimental person so your argument carries no weight. Why do you not have her killed? You are the Emperor. No one would give the murder a moment’s pause. Eliminate her before she eliminates you.”
Mandrean laughed. “You give her too much credit.”
“You don’t give her enough,” snapped Fendri. “Look at her rein of intimidation in the lower halls. The other girls are terrified of her. They see her treacherous nature. I see it. Why is it that you do not?”
“She has been with me nearly twenty years,” Mandrean stated. “I cannot throw that away so easily. She has an attachment to me.”
Fendri’s agitation increased. “I have just witnessed that attachment. Do you know what I saw? What just played out here was a puppet master with her favorite marionette putting on a show. The so-called ‘attachment’ you felt were the strings she pulled to bend you to her will.”
Mandrean’s short temper rose at an alarming rate as he heard Fendri’s description. “Your joke is not funny.”
“Then it is a good thing I was not joking,” Fendri stated firmly. “You have always trusted me and I have never given you cause to doubt my sincerity. Believe me when I say she is playing you like an instrument. Look at what she does objectively and you will see she gets what she wants from you. I tell you no good will come of this. She has a plan. Once it is put into effect, it will not end well for you. Kill her now, while you still can.”
Mandrean’s anger was tempered by the genuine display of concern from his closest friend. He set down his goblet and paced with his hands behind his back. The conversation with Betrimpia played through his mind. “I know you believe all those things to be true,” he began. “I am no one’s puppet. Look at all the things she asked for and did not receive. She holds no control over me.”
“She did achieve a concession from you, Manenvious. You are allowing her son to join your Imperial Guard. We both know he is your son. Does it not concern you he will be charged with protecting you?”
It was at that moment of uncertainty that Linvin and his cavalry attacked from the rear along the entire line. The goblins were so preoccupied with the happenings in front of them that they paid no heed to the cavalry in the rear forming a line along the length of their formation. Bewildered goblins never saw the strikes coming that cut them down. The phalanx was so tightly packed that Linvin’s troops could not miss.
Linvin struck like thunder with his long sword. He slashed to his right and then his left, dropping goblins with each stroke. As quickly as he could swing his sword, he would kill another.
Linvin was not alone in his success. His cavalry cut deep swaths into the rear goblin ranks. The cavalry maintained their line and did not get too far ahead of each other in order to avoid being surrounded.
The discipline observed among the goblins seemed to bleed away in the chaos. Indecision took center stage. Due to the close formation, they could not turn to fight without dropping their pikes, but without their pikes, they would be at a great disadvantage to the horsemen. It led to carnage on an unprecedented scale, courtesy of Linvin’s cavalry.
Indecision gave way to panic as the majority of what was once a phalanx dropped their spears and drew their melee weapons. Rather than continue to be attacked from behind, they chose to turn and fight as best they could.
The change in tactics could not have come at a better time at the shield-wall. The front line had collapsed and Sculla’s men were on the verge of being routed. With most of the pikes discarded, there was at last a moment to hasten fresh troops to the line and reform the wall. Personally taking the lead, Sculla ordered an advance. They marched with their wall intact to the front of the goblin line and engaged.
The cavalry was meeting with more fierce resistance with the change of weapons. Their progress slowed and they began to take losses.
Linvin was striking more swords then armor as his enemy rallied. At least one goblin had kept his spear. He struck Linvin’s horse with a killing blow. The steed stood on its hind legs and then fell to its side.
Linvin was thrown to the ground with his sword and shield flying from his hands. His helmet fell forward, covering his eyes. With a swipe of his forearm he knocked the helmet off.
A goblin stood above Linvin with his sword in hand. He was ready to strike. Linvin propped his arm in front of him and braced for the blow. Nothing happened. Linvin looked again and saw a blade erupt from the goblin’s chest before he fell to the ground. Left standing behind the body was an astonished Fardar.
Linvin could not believe it. They exchanged a brief nod. Linvin regained his feet quickly, holding a sickle-sword and hand ax. He immediately struck right past Fardar’s head with the sword. It caught a goblin in the face that was about to kill Linvin’s savior. There was no time to thank one another. The two stood back-to-back and continued the fight.
Linvin slashed at the hamstring of one as he buried the ax deep in another. Drawing back quickly, he stabbed and chopped at two more. The flailing of his arms made him a difficult target to approach. It also made him lose sight of Fardar.
The moments passed like days. For every goblin that fell, another filled his place. There appeared to be no reprieve from the endless enemy surge.
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.
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...